A ‘Fly By the Seat of Your Pants’ Gardener Aka Plotter v. Pantser


In class, we learned about Gustav Freytag, the creator of Freytag’s Pyramid.  I’d seen the above diagram before but did not know its origins.

This brought up an interesting point in regards to the process of writing, more specifically, that there is more than one process.  Now I could go on for hours about the many different approaches to writing but I feel that it really boils down to two distinct approaches.

You can be a Gardener Writer or a ‘By the Seat of your pants’ Writer.  Another set of terms that can be used to describe the same thing is Plotter v. Pantser.

A gardener plans.  They use Freytag’s pyramid, or a plot map, or some other planning device to chart out each and every step of the book.  A true gardener knows how the book will end before they even begin writing the first page.

A Fly by the seat of your pants writer throws some coins in a fountain, makes a wish, and leaves it up to the writing gods.  More specifically, they start with an idea and just write whatever comes into their head.

That being said, I don’t believe anyone is 100% one or the other.  I think there is a spectrum, and all writers fall somewhere in between the two.  I know that is certainly the case where my writing is concerned.  I am absolutely a ‘Fly by the seat of your pants’ gardener.  I chart out the main things that I know I want to happen in the book, but I use it in the same way that pirates use Parley.  More like a guideline than a hard and fast rule.

For example, I didn’t know how The Sword and Shield would end until I was halfway through writing it.  I took a pause from the scene I was working on, wrote the last chapter and the Epilogue, then resumed my work on the middle of the book.

The reason I write this way is that writing is a lot like life.  You can have a plan but, try as you might, you aren’t always able to stick to that plan.  Sometimes life has something else in mind, and that’s not always a bad thing.  I like to leave myself open to new and exciting possibilities rather than caging myself in.

That’s all I have for you today,

Bye for now!

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