Saturday, January 25, 2014

Adjusting Your Plot Style to Match Your Life

There is a great debate in the fiction writing world—do you plot or do you pants? The question is deceiving.  It is an assumption that when you are a plotter you are always a plotter and when you pants (writing from the seat of your pants) you are always a pantser and have to learn to develop a written plot to appease an agent or publisher. I once was a pantser. Pantsing gives the writer the same thrill as the reader has as they both experience the story for the first time without necessarily knowing what is going to happen next. While this gives a certain exhilaration to the writer, this has several stumbling blocks—stumbling blocks that has tripped me to fall on my face. Between a heavy time demanding bill paying job and taking care of an elderly parent, I would not be able to work on a piece for months—up to ten months at a time. By then, the story which needed to be chased fresh had long escaped from my grasp and another story would be added to the “dead pile.”

There is a saying in the U.S. Military, “Adapt, overcome, and achieve.” I had to take this saying to my writing heart. Over several years, as it became apparent that the demands on my time would not change and would more than likely only get worse, I had to learn to adapt and change. I had to learn to plot. This may sound like an easy thing to do. To borrow from Nike, “Just to do it!” The trick was to develop a plotting and writing method that still kept the taste of pantsing. The trick was to develop this plotting and writing method to develop the elements in order to make a much larger and hopefully better piece. Some writers who have watched this develop likened it to the four color printing method used to make full color pictures. After several attempts and tweaks, it works for me.

This story is shared to illustrate to any writer—from the beginning writer to the writer who is frustrated or finds that he or she must adapt their writing to fit their art and their life as it changes—that there is not any one way to prepare to write a story.  Nothing has to stop your creativity or to abandon your art. There is always a way, a path between all the advice out there to return you to your life calling.

Thank you for reading and please visit and You find me on Facebook at You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.


  1. I enjoyed your blog. I'm a pantser, but I've often thought I'd like to write a mystery or crime story. That would require plotting, where every little detail counted in some way. I see where you had to persevere to achieve your new style. I don't think I'm quite there yet. Keep up the good work.