Plotter or Pantster? A Quest for the Perfect Strategy


First I tried being a pantster. Not a good look on my manuscript or me. Squishing color-coded scenes in a spreadsheet gave me a headache. The thought of storyboards and detailed charts terrified me. Where would the dust bunnies sleep? What if they got stuck to the post-it notes overnight?

Next I settled on writing an outline and received great feedback at a brainstorming session with my critique group. I found this process very useful when the story idea was just a plot of my imagination.

Then I took Laurie Schnebly Campbell’s online workshop, Writing Your Synopsis “Mad Men” Style. My favorite tool from that class was the strategizing worksheet which was great for synopses and plotting.

Yes, you read me correctly. PLOTTING. By the time I completed the strategizing worksheet, I repaired potholes and sinkholes, raised the stakes, rearranged the scenes/chapters, and had a four-act structure for my revised plot. The worksheet was a quick, compact, and flexible reference and stayed in a dust bunny free zone on my computer as I worked on my second draft.

Do I know all there is about plotting? No, which is why I tweak my process with craft book and workshop tips from plotting gurus and published authors. The next stop on my quest is Laurie’s upcoming class, Plotting Via Motivation. I promised her I’d leave my dust bunnies at home.

What’s your perfect plotting strategy?

Laurie Schnebly Campbell

PLOTTING VIA MOTIVATION (March 4-29) $40 ( $35 if paid by check)


  1. Yikes! Plotting? You actually have to know what your story is going to be about…ahead of time? Of course I have an idea but a crude outline(as you indicated you started with) is about all. If I try to outline in depth, by the time I get to the third or fourth bullet the story and characters have deviated so drastically the outline is no longer useful.

    Glad it works for you 🙂

    • Gary, my plotting isn’t an exact science either, and I wouldn’t want it to be. I’m eager to read your stories no matter how they’re created. Thanks for commenting!

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