Some authors swear up and down that their style is superior on both sides of the plotting or pantsing argument. The thing is, I’m not sure it’s as simple as that.

The pushiest side for this argument is the plotters (sorry guys, but it’s true!), here I fall guilty. I consider myself a plotter (but a loose one) and I’ve definitely advocated for this writing style. It wasn’t until I started watching Brandon Sanderson’s lecture series on Youtube that I realised that it actually wasn’t as straight forward as it seemed.

Sanderson pointed out that while outliners tend to have more satisfying endings, people who didn’t plot ended up with enjoyable characters that you get to know really well. He suggests that you should continue to write in the style that you are most comfortable with, but consider that some stories will require different techniques.

I think that’s the truest thing on the topic that I’ve ever heard. It’s the same with any other writing rule. You have to do what is most natural for your voice.

Sanderson suggests that the best way to write a story is a hybrid of both techniques. Discovery write your characters and then plot the adventure. He strongly warns against listening to any advice that starts with “a writer should do”. I think this rings true. There are so many different ways to write, and no writer will ever create the exact same way.

Different books also require different techniques, some require more setup than others while some will require a strong and relatable character to get them through. It depends on your genre, and it depends on you. A mystery novel, for example, should probably be plotted but a rom-com, which is more character-based could develop really naturally and authentically with a pantsing technique!

Ultimately, whether you’re a plotter, pantser or hybrid, you have to do what rings truest to you. Writing in a style that does not fit you comfortably could end up reducing your quality of work and your own joy in the process of writing.

Whatever way you decide to build your book has to be your way. I would encourage you to have a play, listen to other writers and collect ideas, and as always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf!