Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pantser, Plotter, or Thonger?

"There’s no outline, nothing like that. That freezes it, it takes what should be a liquid, plastic, malleable thing to me and turns it into something else. Hey, to me it’s the difference between going to a canvas and painting a picture and going out and buying a Craftsmaster paint-by-the-numbers kit.” 
 — Stephen King
 When I was at the Philadelphia Writer's Conference a few weeks ago, I took a class from Marie Lamba. She's an awesome YA/MG writer and on day two, we got into a mini discussion on pantsing versus plotting. If you've never heard the terms before, here's a quick definition.

Pantser- The pantser writes by the seat of their pants, as the name implies. No outlines, no planning, they just sit down and write. The story flows from brain to paper/screen as it forms.

Plotter- The plotter plans everything. Well, ok, maybe not everything, but a lot. They make detailed outlines, notecards, all that good jazz.

Marie is like me. She falls somewhere in between. When she was trying to come up with a term for it, she threw out boring things like "plantser", "plottser", and stuff like that. Then she came up with a genius term that I fell in love with. So I'm here to proudly declare:


So what defines a thonger? A thonger plans a little bit, but lets the story run itself for the most part. I like to have a very basic outline, so that when I get stuck, I have someplace to go. I know where the book is headed and have some vital information written down, but for the most part, I write on the fly. For my new YA book, The Seven Keys of Alaesha, I'm using (well, trying to use) Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. I've only made it to chapter 2. I also have a notebook that I'm keeping track of details in. I'm definitely leaning more toward pantser than plotter at the moment, but I'm still firmly a thonger.

What kind of writer are you? Pantser? Plotter? Or do you join me in the thonger camp?


  1. He he! I forgot I even said that. Thanks for this post :)


  2. Thank YOU for giving us such a wonderful term to use! :D

  3. I'm so with you in the thonger camp. In the beginning of time I was a pantser, but that passed when I got more serious about my writing. I never quite felt I was doing as much plotting as those BIG PLOTTERS, so ye... thonger I am. XD

  4. Saw this on twitter and had to check it out :)
    I'm a proud thonger!

  5. Apparently I, too, am a thonger. I always thought pantser was a bit too loose for my style so I'm glad there's now something... er, in-between?

  6. I'm a thonger, too. And I use Maass' book. For me, I wait until after my 2nd revision is done before I do the Exercises in the book. I find that's where it helps me most. I can't use it at the beginning, it just doesn't work for me. Maybe you should wait until you're further into the process to use it.



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