Behind the Story: Pantsing on a Picture

Writers tend to be divided between two camps: “Plotters” and “Pantsers.” Plotters create rigorous outlines and character data sheets before squaring off against the blank page, and Pantsers, well, fly by the seat of their pants. A friend of mine uses the term “Plantser” for a hybrid of the two, and that’s how I usually work. I like to start with a general idea of what the story is going to be about and let the details come as I write.

In November, I was discouraged by a string of rejections and hadn’t written anything new in a month, when I stumbled across With Painted Words. They select a new image each month and invite writers to create a story or poem inspired by it, however loosely.


November’s Inspirational Image

I let the picture bounce around in my head for a week, but nothing came to mind, so I sat myself down, set a timer for an hour, and just wrote. While I didn’t create a fully-formed story, I had a solid start. My writing group provided critiques and encouragement, so I polished it up, sent it out, and Event Horizon was selected for publication.

While I still prefer to have an idea before I start writing, it’s nice to know that sometimes stepping out into the unknown pays off.


Filed under Fiction

5 responses to “Behind the Story: Pantsing on a Picture

  1. Congratulations on your story! I used to be a pantser but I’ve learned the value of plotting. I’d say I’m officially a member of the Plantser camp.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Now that I’m playing with short fiction again, thanks to the online friends, it’s pantster. Novel, Plotter becomes Panster midway and plot-points go where the characters decide they’re going.


  3. And great job on Event Horizon. Just read it. Ok, time to get to my own writing before “this morning” becomes “how’d it get dark already?”


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