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Types of Writers: Plans vs Pants

A short time ago, my fellow author, L.L. Hunter wrote a great blog post about “Where Do You Write?”. It was a thoughtful piece about different places where writers feel comfortable and in the flow of their creative muse. Today, I’d like to dive into how we write. By this, I mean to address the different ways Authors get their ideas out of their head and onto paper or computer screens.

It is generally accepted in the author world that there are three main types of writers:



Plantsers (a combination of both of the previous)


This is the type of writer who has a reasonably formed idea about what shape this story will take. Perhaps it is just the beginning, middle or end, but they have a fairly clear idea about the setting, the characters and/or the plot. The Plotter might make lists, character biographies, take notes, jot down outlines and timelines, and know how the story might move best through the chapters of their creation.

The Plotter will most likely have each chapter outlined in detail, including where the chapter starts, what events take place and where the chapter finishes. Is it a tense chapter? Is it a quiet chapter in the midst of chaos in order to provide some contrast? If you’re a fan of thrillers, you might notice after a series of tense events that there will often be a subtle chapter, perhaps shorter than the previous ones, that provides some breathing room.

One upside to this way of planning a story or series from start to finish can make the ending of a tale incredibly strong. A downside could be that sometimes the story may feel a bit stale, or forced rather than finding its organic conclusion. 


This rather unattractive word is the label given to Authors who basically fly by the seat of their pants. Whether or not their ideas come thick and fast or slow and ponderous, the Pantser sits down to write with only a vague idea of their story, characters or plot. Or perhaps no idea at all (wild, right?), but the words flow nonetheless. 

Characters that flow from the pen of a Pantser can often be more realistic as they make organic choices as the plot unfolds. The flipside is that the ending can sometimes be weaker as all of the threads of the storyline may be left loosely tied.

Another word for this type of writer is Discovery Writer… which sounds a lot nicer, doesn’t it?


This other unpalatable word is a combination of the first two types. There might be a half formed and general outline of the plot. The writer sits down, prepares themselves, and forges ahead with the few signposts they’ve set for themselves along the way.

It is this particular writer’s opinion that no matter how you write, the fact that you write at all is important. Whether it’s a fictional story, biography, poem, or jumble of words from your subconscious, writing is a great way to exercise your creative muscle. Enjoy and share your inner world with those outside of it.

You might find yourself in a completely different category not addressed here at all. And that’s okay! That’s what makes the world of writing and storytelling so incredibly amazing that every writer's journey is different. The destination may be thrilling, exciting, fearful or completely unexpected. But the journey to get there is one of self discovery and sharing.

No matter what label or not that you fit under, enjoy your craft, rejoice in the stories and words and be authentic to your muse. Enjoy the road to wonder that is paved with lonely letters, wonderful words and surreal sentences.

Let us know below how you write! The staff at Book Fair Australia are a fantastic combination of all three!

Which type of writer are you?

  • Planner

  • Pantser

  • Plantser

Take a peek at the photo (above) of this particular Author’s study, and guess what type of writer I am…

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