Pantsing: Pros and Cons

The first thing that pops into my head when I hear the word pantsing makes me think of standing in a middle school cafeteria lunch line, waiting for my turn, and someone coming and yanking my pants down. In an instant, without preparation.
This is what pantsing is in the literary world too: not stopping to plan out an idea, but just going for it and writing it out. Some people like this method, others don’t. There have been books published on both pantsing and plotting, praising one and denouncing another. for example, one of my favourite authors, Steven James, much prefers the pantsing method, but other authors prefer the plotting method. Today’s post is going to focus on the pantsing method, and its pros and cons, and later this week I’ll do one on the plotting method.


Instant writing gratification: start writing right away, you don’t have to slog through all the planning steps that make your story seem so much less attractive than it did at the beginning.

Freer writing: no constraints to a script, so when a better idea comes along, just go with it and fix it later.


Many drafts: If you want to change something (e.g. a character or points in a plot, you often have to rewrite the entire draft to fit these changes. If 300 pages into your book you look back and realize your character has no motivation, you’re much more likely to shrug it off and keep writing than rewrite the entire 300 pages.

Plot tangles: Often, as mentioned before, a better idea comes along than the current one, and then you start off on that tangent, and you find that your first half of the novel is totally wrong for the second, better half.

I know there are only two points for each, and there are plenty more, but I didn’t want to make this one too long.