Plotter or pantser

I know. Zillions of words have been written on the subject, so here is my two pennyworth. I was always a pantser, which is logical because my first 9 books were all about real people and true events. There wasn’t a lot of plotting to be done, only to flesh out the characters, add descriptions and decide which parts of the actual history to develop. This suited me well enough until I came to book no. 10. Here I set fictional characters against real events, but there was some plotting involved and I did it ‘on the wing’. The book that was supposed to no. 11 was the subject of a previous blog (the book that didn’t want to be written) so I’ll bypass that and talk about the new no. 11, which is also a combination of fictional and historical.

Before starting this book, I decided I wanted to be a plotter because it seemed to me a more professional approach. I found a neat little book called Take off Your Pants, laid out my strategy according to the author’s suggestions and jumped right in. After writing about 70 pages, I decided it was necessary to give my heroine 2 brothers. Around page 120, I decided I didn’t need the two brothers if I added the point of view of a protagonist to show the other side of the story. By page 180, I had reached the conclusion that the book would be too long, with too much war and not enough human drama so out went the protagonist’s voice and back came the two brothers. (Two, so I could kill one off.) Proud to say I have now finished the first draft.


The moral is, you can’t drive a round peg into a square hole. For better or worse, I write by the seat of my pants.

Author: susanappleyardwriter

I am a writer and reader of historical fiction. In the eighties I had 2 books published traditionally and recently 8 books self-published. I live in Canada for half the year - the warm half - and Mexico for the other half.

3 thoughts on “Plotter or pantser”

  1. This is me. Every time I try to plot, it feels wrong and dead. I will always fly by the seat of my pants only knowing what is going on just around the corner. I will reverse plot, as in write down the beats after I’ve written them for easy reference and to spot if something is completely out of kilter, but for a first draft, weeeeeeeee…


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