Planner: An author who knows exactly what is going to happen, when it will happen and where it will happen.
Panster: An author that knows nothing but the absolute basics before starting a novel.
It is said that there are two kinds of writers; the Planner and the Panster.
The Planner likes to delve into their masterpiece with every outcome and idea thought through to its logical conclusion. They have the chapters laid out on notecards. They have character outlines that go into so much detail that their MNA has their own passport and drivers licence. They may even have the next two of three books planned out and ready to be foreshadowed.
The Panster, on the other hand, comes up with a single, basic idea or maybe just a single character they want to write about and just goes with it. Each page leads blindly onto the next. New characters come as a surprise and may become the main character in later drafts. The end of the story is never in sight because there’s a good chance it doesn’t exist yet.
Mario or Sonic?
Coke or Pepsi?
Marvel or DC?
Planner or Panster?
It’s put down as one or the other and in the build up to NaNoWriMo, most participants know what they are by now. Planners will have spent October (and probably September) creating worlds, characters and plot twists that all intricately link into one another. Come November 1st it will just be a case of converting all the information from that well organised ring binder (deny it) into a novel.
Pansters will probably be doing everything but thinking about their story. They’re probably working on something else entirely that just popped into their heads that very morning.
But are these the only two types? Can there be some kind of hybrid that sits right in the middle of these two extremes?
You see I don’t just wing it. In the build-up I’m constantly thinking about the first ten percent of the story; the intro, the build-up. I come up with that quick idea like a Panster would but I unfold it, build on it and see what else could happen.
But that planning I do is real basic. I’ll draw a map if required (this year that’s a yes). I put together a list of characters like a planner would but they don’t have much detail beyond a name and a one line description. I may even outline the first couple of chapters but, because I’m so fickle, I know that if I plan too far ahead that it will cage me in as I’ll be coming up with more ideas throughout the month. Sure I know the big, big, big picture, I know I’m departing point A and heading across to point Z but there’s that massive expanse in-between that I don’t normally think about and look forward to exploring.
Mario or Sonic? Kids’ stuff.
Coke or Pepsi? I prefer Dr Pepper.
Marvel or DC? Put your hands together.
Planner or Panster? I’m a Planster.
Are any of you out there planning on joining NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what category do you put yourself in? Are you going to see what falls out of you imagination in two weeks’ time or do you have a ring binder that looks like it contains thousands of Wikipedia entries about a fictional world? Let me know in the comments below.
If you are joining in then let me know; let’s get a good group of writing buddies together for this as, God knows, support can be a wonderful thing.
I guess I’d better let you Planners get back to world building.
See you in seven.