Can Plotters Be Made, Not Born?

pintipAre you a plotter or a pantser?

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably heard this question at some point. It’s a matter of writing method and preference. The question may even get at the way you think or perceive the world. But at its heart is the assumption that there is an answer. You’re either one. Or the other. Or a little of both.

So my question to you is: can you shift from one to the other? Or do you think there’s something intrinsic to a person that makes you lean a certain way?

I’ve been a pantser most of my life. Even before I started writing fiction, I could never outline my academic papers. Armed with a thesis, a question to explore, and a whole bunch of notes, I would start writing. And somehow, I always ended up with a coherent, cohesive essay.

When I started writing novels, I assumed it would be the same. In fact, I believed I could never figure out what happened in a story unless I wrote it. And so, I pantsed my way through the first three or four books I wrote. And then, in the past few months, something happened.

Maybe I read one too many craft books. Maybe I was just fed up with the inefficiency of re-writing. But all of a sudden, I had a color-coded story board. A scene-by-scene outline of my manuscript. A deadline and a daily word-count goal.

And voila! A plotter was born!

Okay, not really. I mean, it didn’t actually happen overnight. For years now, I’ve said (on this blog even) that I’ve always wanted to be a plotter. I just didn’t know how.

Well, now I do.

The other day, I was saying to my friend, Kimberly-Mermaid, that the stickiest chapters in my manuscript were the ones where I veered from my outline. She said: “OMG! You’re a freaking plotter now! Traitor!”

And I realized, why yes, I am a plotter. I really am.

How on earth did that happen?!