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Monday, June 20, 2011


When I agreed/volunteered to do this post for Liana, I thought long and hard about what to say. I’ve been blogging for two years now so there’s a lot that I’ve already said there. (Not to mention all the random tweets about different things.)

But then I got thinking about how my writing process evolves and changes from project to project. We’ve all heard the terms “pantser” and “plotter.” It seems to be an unwritten rule in the writing world that once you declare yourself a writer, you must also declare which type you are. There are many who will lay claim to being a mix and there are varying degrees of that mix.

I am one of them. But the degree of that mix, the end of the spectrum I sit closest to, changes from project to project. What determines this sliding around on the scale?


The folder on my computer where I store my writings is ludicrous. I have a handful of romance projects of varying lengths and in varying stages of completion, from started and abandoned to first draft written but never being touched again; a steampunk short story and the start of the novel I tried to adapt it into; an adventure novel that is sitting in-development (meaning world-building and plotting); an attempt at chapters of a memoir; and four fantasy projects. (Plus a lot of poems and poetry collections that I tinker with when I need a break from the novel writing.)

For each one of these projects I had a vastly different position on the scale between pantser and plotter. These ranged from no idea about anything ahead of time (the steampunk short and some of the romances) to histories and character sheets and minutiae of everyday life in this story world (for the traditional fantasy projects).

When it comes to fantasy, there are a lot of pieces I need to have in place. The project I’m working on now I spent a week and a half creating maps of the different kingdoms/empires, writing histories of each, figuring out how the magic systems work, etcetera. With my contemporary fantasy I wasn’t nearly that detailed though I did sketch out a history of the paranormal/fantasy element of that story. I knew some things and had a rough outline when I started, but I strayed from time to time.

With my romances and the steampunk, I just started writing. I told the story that was in my head and stopped when it stopped. I had a loose outline for one but to go back and compare the end result with that outline reads like two very different stories.

I’m proudly stating here and now that I am neither a pantser nor a plotter, nor am I mix. I am just me, a writer, with a process of planning or not planning that works for me.

Stephanie McGeee is a writer, blogger, wannabe photographer and golfer who spends her days with her head in the clouds of fictional worlds, observing, creating, and noting the goings on in said worlds.


  1. I think it's good to go with what the project needs. And hooray for just being yourself! Great post.

  2. Great that you do what works with each project. And you're got lots of experience with all your manuscripts. I'm looking forward to getting to that stage.

  3. Ah, I'm exactly the same way! I change with each book, and I like to keep it wide open for each one to see which way will work best. I can't imagine workin gany other way. :)