What kind of writer are you? A Pantser or a Planner?

Their are two kinds of authors in this world. Pantsers and Planners.

For the uninitiated, a pantser is a writer who doesn't work with a set plan, somebody who flies by the seat of their pants. A classic example of this kind of writer is Stephen King.

The opposite is a planner or outliner. Sometimes , these writers go into excruciating detail over the plots of their books, spending months or years working their outlines before they start writing. Jeffrey Deaver takes eight months to outline his books and only two months to write them. Jo Nesbo writes 100 page outlines that he then fleshes out to create the book itself.

Of course, these are the two extremes and there are variations that lie between the two.

I would describe myself as a pantser. I have a beginning, usually an image in my head. I will also have an end scene or location, plus a couple of scenes that I use as way points in the novel.  But that's about it.

Who's the killer? I don't know when I start.

Why did he commit the murder? I haven't a clue.

How will he get caught? Your guess is as good as mine.

By the time I've reached the end of the book, I will have worked all this out and so, hopefully, will my reader.

If you are a pantser, like me, then you are going to spend a lot of time editing your books. In my case, about the same amount of time as I spend writing the first draft. There's going to be an awful lot of time spent working out and back rationalising the plot. Plus planting the clues exactly where you want them.

It all takes time. But I wouldn't have it any other way because I hope I achieve a freshness and a surprise in the writing that is often missing from heavily planned books.

After all, if I don't know who the murderer is when I'm writing, how can the reader?

So next time you read a book, ask yourself, is the writer a planner or a pantser?

The funny thing is, you can usually tell.