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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Outlining vs. Pantstering

Outlining vs. Pantstering

Are you an outliner or a pantster – or do you use elements of each? Have you blogged about your process?
I’ll be leading two writing workshops this November and examining how to build a plot through one method or another (or a clever combination of both). The first workshop is at the Avon Grove Library on Saturday, November 5 to kick off Nanowrimo. I’ll be addressing outlines and “writing by the seat of your pants” as they pertain to creating a first draft, followed by a session for participants to write and/or critique each other’s work. The workshop is open to both teen and adult writers.
The second event is the following weekend at the Lititz Kid Lit Festival, in Lititz, PA. If you live anywhere near south-east-central Pennsylvania, you might want to check out this event put on by the independent store, Aaron’s Books. This year, Aaron’s Books has teamed up with Linden Hall School for Girls to sponsor three days’ worth of writing/reading events – including workshops, panels, and book signings. I’ll be running a workshop on Outlining vs Pantstering as it pertains not only to the first draft, but also to revisions.
Now, I’m a flagrant pantster, although I do use outlining before, during, and after I create the mess I call a first draft. Once or twice, I’ve even outlined the whole book before starting, only to find that created just as big a mess. For me, the key to the whole process is knowing when to plan and when to go with your gut – and always expecting and accepting that the first draft is going to be awful.
I’ll be researching this topic over the next couple months, and I want to create a page on my website full of links to blogs discussing this topic. So, if you have a blog post on the subject, please leave me a link in the comments, and I’ll be sure to include it!

5 Responses to Outlining vs. Pantstering

  1. I’m definitely a preplanner and outliner. I allow for flexibility, but I like to know where I’m headed before I start out. (something I often forget when I drive my kids somewhere).

  2. Linda G. says:

    I do have a blog post on this very subject:


    I don’t have a clue how to make a link go live in a blog comment, unless it just happens automatically when you post. If not, sorry about that!

  3. JEM says:

    I am a mental outliner and a written panster. Try that one on for size (no pun intended) (okay pun maybe intended).

  4. Your workshops sound super. (But I simply can’t hack that long commute.) I’m a combo pantster-outliner. The outline is actually more of a loose guideline to help keep me on track, but I have no problem with occasionally jumping off the track for a brief detour.

  5. mshatch says:

    I currently use your method of panstering with some outline planning afterward – however, I am currently trying out the outline/plotting first method. We’ll see what happens…

    wish I could go to your workshops!