Or discovery writers versus outliners, or gardeners versus architects…Really, it doesn’t matter what you call it we all have heard of the two different ways that writers, well, write.

I really like the way Sanderson puts forward these ideas…they are tools and they’re tools available to every writer.  We have a our preferences but we can (and do) use each in different situations.  What REALLY caught my attention and what I think was REALLY helpful and wish that he’d had a chance to expand was the pros and cons of leaning heavily on each of these tools.

We tend to say, “I’m a “pantser”” or “I’ always outline,” but never really think about what that means to our writing.  It’s become sort of a short-hand to – This is how I do things.  And I’m not sure that is truly accurate.  I’m also not sure that we should be as accepting of that.   These are tools and having the right tool for the right chapter or character or story can make all the difference.

A can of soup will pound in a nail just as well as a hammer.  But having more tools and knowing how to use them and being consciously aware of the pluses and minuses of each rather than simply falling back in to our own habits makes us better writers.  Knowing that discovery writers TEND to not quite have as strong endings and then have to go back and direct the story towards the end after the fact is important and having that knowledge in your back pocket (especially if you’re a “pantser”) or planning that part of the story – even if it is just a single line., should be critical.

But in this area of discovery writing verus outlining, I find people seem rather intractable.  We wear this description with pride.  I’m not sure I fully understand why we hang on so tightly to these appelations and the resultant (whether intended or not) dismissiveness of the alternate system.  What do people see as the specific advantages and disadvantages of each of these systems pertient to THEIR writing?

And just to be upfront, I don’t quite fall into either category.  I’ve caught myself outlining, and I’ve also ripped straight through stories as a discovery writer.  Still examining my writing to see if there are trendsas  to what I use when and also learning when it is more effective to use one versus the other.

About the author

DayAlMohamed Day Al-Mohamed is author of the Young Adult novel, “Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn.” She is also co-editor for the anthology, “Trust & Treachery” from Dark Quest Books. In addition to speculative fiction, she also writes comics and film scripts. She is an active member of the Cat Vacuuming Society of Northern Virginia Writing Group, of Women in Film and Video, and a graduate of the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop.