Writing is my greatest passion. I love it to my core, enjoying the fulfillment it brings that no other job, hobby, or occupation ever has. So, imagine my delight when the overwhelmingly positive response to my poll on Instagram asking what posts people wanted to see more of was… writing tips and quips! Thank you to everyone who voted, and your wish is my command. You can expect more writing-related content on my Instagram page, and also here on my blog posts, starting with this month’s topic… writer types.

Every writer has a different approach to tackling a new literary project. Some dive in without preamble or thought, others construct rigorous structured guidelines to follow throughout the process, and the rest fall somewhere in between, adopting a combination of structure and freestyle. Where no writing type is right or wrong, there is a type that will work best for you. The following is a brief discussion of the three main writing types, and figuring out which style fits you best.

Writing Types

While there are a variety of writing styles, we can clump them into three major categories: the plotter, the pantser, and the plantser. Which one are you? Let me provide some definitions and examples to help you decide.

The Plotter

This type of writer usually starts with a detailed outline of their story BEFORE they write. This outline might include chapter breakdowns, character descriptions, research notes, plots, and subplots, world-building, and exactly where the climax will hit. This person is like the traveller heading on a road trip who maps out all their destinations and pit stops before they start their journey. They know exactly where they are heading at the outset and maintain their course until they reach the end.

This style requires extra work to create the outline before the writing process begins, but it usually results in less time completing the first draft of your story/novel since there is little guesswork involved. There is also less chance of developing writer’s block since each step is predetermined. However, due to their unbending ways, these writers might ignore new ideas that form, gut intuition that could lead to eureka plot moments, further character development, or lead to dynamic twists to improve the story overall if they’re reluctant to veer away from their outline.

The Pantser

The opposite of the plotter, this type of writer has little to no planned itinerary before they start their project. Although they might have a general concept or ideas about what they want to write, when it comes to the writing process they “fly by the seat of their pants” and let the story develop organically. Sometimes their characters take the lead and write the story for them. These people are like the travellers who jump in their car without a destination in mind and just drive, seeing where they end up. And during the journey, discover many exciting locations that they didn’t even know existed. This style is great for creative reasons, but due to the lack of structure, issues with uneven flow and pacing, plot holes, or even writer’s block may occur. There is also a chance of the story heading nowhere if there isn’t any forethought invested in the big picture of the story.

The Plantser

The best of both worlds, the plantser, is a combination of both the plotter and the pantser. This writing style involves some preplanning, but the author may find themselves drawn down alternate paths they never anticipated, and instead of ignoring these alternate avenues, they allow their minds to float freely and explore. This might involve having to go back and edit the original outline, but will often result in a more interesting, dynamic final story, so the extra work is worth it. This writer is like the traveller who has a vague idea of where they are headed, but as they discover new sights along their journey, they’ll allow themselves to go off course and explore new territory before bringing themselves back on track. Or they might continue in this new direction if it pleases them more than the original route.

Which one am I? I fall more into the plotter role, but I tend to have pantser moments. I start with a rigorous outline, but occasionally I’ll drift off and head down unexpected territory which ultimately leads to altering my original plan. I’ve generated some of my best ideas this way. I find preparing an outline ahead of time keeps me on track, and helps reduce the risk of getting stuck. But then I allow myself the flexibility to change the outline if it augments my story.

If you’re a new writer, you might not know which type will suit you. I recommend exploring the different styles to see which one fuels your storytelling abilities by writing several short stories. Sample each writing type and see what gets the creative juices flowing and the words down on paper. My personal opinion is that an outline can be beneficial for new authors who find the writing process daunting. Having a guide to follow can uncomplicate the process, making it less intimidating.

Keep in mind, there’s no reason you can’t change your writing style from one project to the next. Sometimes the project itself will help you decide which writing style to choose. And if you tend to use a certain method, but find you are suddenly blocked, why not try an alternate method? Try not to limit yourself to just one style and let the stories unfold.

So, primarily, which writer type are you? I’d love to know! And don’t forget to keep reading!

💋 Lanie Mores