I’m not a Plotter or a Pantser; I’m a Framer.


I like to think of myself as somewhere in between plotter and pantser. Whatever that might be.

When I think of a plotter, I think outline. And when I think of an outline, I think every step planned out, leaving no room for creativity.

When I think of pantser, I think of someone sitting down to type/write, letting their creativity flow to create a fabulous story. Sure, and I’ve done this but only when writing a short.

Its fun not knowing where the story may take you, but there are consequences.

My problem with pantsing is that I tend to roam off course. Hard to maintain a heading when I don’t know what direction I’m supposed to go. Sure its fun and can be rewarding, but sometimes the story never ends–think run-on sentence. When writing a short story, the roaming isn’t a large word count. The percentage is still high, but doing several revisions and rewrites will clean it up. But when doing something bigger, there will be huge blocks of wasted time.

First rule of revision, in my mind anyway, is to surgically remove unnecessary scenes. These scenes can, and usually do, contain large word counts that were not moving the story forward, or have gone off on an unrelated tangent. I’m too lazy to repeatedly kill off my darlings, so I found another solution.

All frameworks are specific to the writer; and to do one properly, the I had to think about the story in very general terms.

I start with the shape of the story I want to tell. I have a feeling, small inkling, about the each character of the players, and what they want. I know most of the plot points, but am not sure how to get here. I know the twist in advance, and also keep a list of a few other possibilities–just in case. I know the ending, but only to a degree. When I do my framing, I land up with fist’s full of questions I need to consider as I write. Those questions spur me on.

And I know one other thing. I know the story behind the story.

After all my thinking is done, I’m ready to begin, and I let the panster loose. Sometimes she blows my mind, because the ideas flow so smoothly. Unfortunately, flow is not a constant yet which proves I still have tons to learn about the craft. That’s okay with me. So far, using a framework is the closest I’ve come to feeling like a professional author. I love the results.


30 responses to “I’m not a Plotter or a Pantser; I’m a Framer.

  1. Great post here today. THIS is what I want to do for my fantasy novellas for NaNo this year. Usually, I outline & make notes like a mad woman. I’m determined to try something new. You’ve got it!!

    I am officially now a Framer. 🙂

  2. I’m an organic writer — I don’t outline. If I even try to anticipate a direction by knowing a plot point, I wreck the story. What happens is that I write to the plot point and shut the creativity out entirely. For me, it’s one scene at a time.

    • Ah, that is what I wished for, but alas I couldn’t do it. Lucky you 🙂

      • A lot of it was getting all the various how-tos out of my head. Most people really don’t know what they’re talking about and what appears and looks very reasonable can be very destructive. I quite literally had to throw out every piece of writing advice out there and trust the process. I know how to write, but all the advice screams, “No, you don’t! You’re doing it wrong! Here’s the correct way!” And it’s not.

        • Interesting. I’ve always read writing manuals, took what I needed and found many wonderful tips to improve my craft.

          I’ve never felt they were telling me I was using the wrong approach.

      • Most of the advice comes from people who haven’t written much fiction and declare themselves an expert and then proceed to explain how to do things “correctly.” Always look at the source and see how much they’ve published. One or two books isn’t a lot.

  3. Everyone works so differently and we all need to do what works for us. It sounds as though you have found your optimal way of working.

  4. I like to be organized but when writing in school I never liked doing an outline. They bothered me mostly because I changed things in my story way too often to really keep an accurate outline. I imagine if I ever did actually write something, I would be the same way.

  5. My process is very similar to yours with one exception. I know my protagonist as well as myself before I write, and I mean right down to her favorite scent of candle. Nice to know I’m not alone.

  6. Great post. I’m glad you found a system that helps you. I think that is very important, like you said, to keep you on track.

  7. If I ever decided to write, I would need to plot it all out with charts, pictures and lots of index cards..LOL

  8. I usually call myself a plotter, because I outline everything, even conversations, but as I write I do tend to add in things as I go. So there’s a little bit of a pantser in me. 😉 It’s great that you found a method that works for you! 🙂

  9. Good middle ground, Anna. I think you’re on to something.

  10. Now you’ve nailed it. I like knowing where the story ends, but I don’t plot everything. That leaves room for creativity. Working without any sort of pre-written data means I have to constantly go back to get minor details. That slows me down, so I have a happy medium I’ve struck too.

  11. Ooh, I like this. I think I’m much the same way.

    Sarah Allen
    (Writing Blog)

  12. how interesting! I’m not a plotter either, and I did have to do a lot of cleaning after the first draft of my first book but now, 4 books later, I’ve gotten better at it… still no plotting, but a little more coherence… and you’re right, the best part is to be surprised by one’s own story. 🙂

  13. Pingback: Author Toolbox #1: Plotting, Sub-Plotting, and Series Threads | elements of emaginette

  14. Pingback: Author Toolbox 4: Discover The Layers Of A Story | elements of emaginette

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