Plotter or pantster?

Just returned from beautiful Minden, Ontario, where I gave a four-hour workshop on Structuring Your Novel. Twelve keen participants at the Minden Cultural Centre. Thankfully, my voice held out.

Minden, Ontario

Minden, Ontario

When the Haliburton Highlands Writers and Editors Network approached me about a workshop –“Any focus you like,” said HHWEN’s Kay Millard — I thought of the issue I’d grappled with for years: the perceived stalemate between plot and character. Was I a plotter or a pantster?

Too often, plot and character are viewed as separate entities. To the point where we often pit them against each other, trying to determine which is more important. But nothing is further from the truth. Plot and character are integral to each other. Remove either one, and you risk creating a story with great parts but not  a great whole.

The three acts of the novel correspond to the three stages of the hero’s motivation. Each change in his motivation signals the arrival of the next act. The character drives the plot, and the plot molds the character’s arc. They can’t work independently.

That’s what we looked at yesterday in Minden. Hope it made a difference t0 12 fellow writers.


Tuesday Oct. 18. Reading and discussion with the Mesdames of Mayhem at Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Library, 599 Mount Pleasant Road, 7 p.m.

Saturday Nov. 5. Reading and discussion with the Mesdames of Mayhem at Toronto’s Leaside Library, 165 McRae Drive, 2 p.m.

Sunday Nov. 6. A Triple Dose of Crime. Authors Rosemary Aubert, M.H. Callway and Donna Carrick launch their short story collections at Sleuth of Baker Street, 907 Millwood Road, Toronto. 2 p.m.

Tuesday Nov. 15. Reading and discussion with authors Lisa de Nikolits,  John Oughton, Heather Babcock and Terri Favro. Toronto’s Annette Street Library, 145 Annette Street, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday Nov. 17. Workshop on writing mysteries, sponsored by Scarborough Arts Council. At Toronto’s Kennedy/Eglinton Library, 2380 Eglinton Ave. East, 2 p.m.


About rosemarymccracken

Rosemary McCracken is a Toronto-based journalist and fiction writer.
This entry was posted in Teaching writing, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Plotter or pantster?

  1. Mar Preston says:

    I’m pleased to be friends with you and see what you’re up to. I stayed up way too late last night reading Windigo Fire. Expect a rave review.

  2. Great reports of your workshop!

  3. Wish I could’ve been there.

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