Plotters will plan out their books. They can be as detailed as a step by step guide or as vague as a few notes on a scrap of paper with the general overview of the book. Pantsers are basically the opposite. They might have a solid idea of characters and story direction or an abstract idea that just popped into their heads as they sat down at the computer. I like to think I am a combination of the two. I tend to have at least a few rough ideas going in but no clue where the story is going or how it is going to get there. I have a starting point, perhaps even think I know how it may end but I let my characters dictate the journey from point A to point Z.
Stephen King, yes I know I have been discussing him a lot recently, says that for him plots are overrated. He prefers to take a group of characters and throw them in a situation then watch them work their way out of it. He has no idea where it is going and so as he writes he is learning about the story the same way his readers will eventually do down the line. I write in much the same way. I do write down a few basic ideas that one could consider an outline of sorts though I have been known to travel in a different direction if my characters take me that way.
I get an idea and I run with it. In some cases the characters are very vocal. They take control of my mind and whisper about their adventures. Some are more subtle. I get a line of dialogue or just a random idea and then when I have put it on the back burner I am struck out of nowhere with the idea that will become the story. Something about that initial spark with nag me until I can get the picture clear in my head. Once that happens it is nearly impossible for me to think about anything else. I become haunted by my own ideas. I write just to free the spirits of the characters and give them life here in my world through the pages they inhabit.
With the annual writing challenge Nanowrimo just around the corner I find that I am working to find a balance. I have several projects all clamoring for attention but none is jumping up to take control so that makes it more difficult. I want something that will get me excited with characters and a storyline I can really sink my metaphorical teeth into and while I have several books with some meat I can gnaw on none of them so far is the juicy morsel I am craving. I am still in search of that special, tantalizing treat that will grab me and take me on the ride I am dying for. Plot or Pants the story is out there. I am off to hunt it down.