The Writers' Hangout

A weekly podcast by two authors who discuss writing, screenwriting, film, and life.

Episode 5: Plotters & Pantsers

In this episode of The Writers Hangout, John and Randall explore the demands of plot-driven versus character-driven stories in regards to how much of the story the writer must know in advance. John also talks about the genesis of his prize-winning first novel Dark Reservations, and both authors reveal their preferred methods for creating works of fiction.

Show Notes:

Famous Authors’ Handwritten Outlines for Great Works of Literature. Click here to see images.

Example beat sheets for known films. Visit Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat website.

Stephen King’s “In a Half World of Terror” aka “I was a Teenage Grave Robber” was mentioned during the podcast. This was his first published short story. Visit to see the artwork for the story.

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  1. Another great podcast guys. I’m enjoying the longer time.

    In my writing, I do both plotting and pantsing. I would say that when it comes to determining whether I plot or not, depends on the story elements and how comfortable I feel in free-writing about them. If it’s something overly technical, or has terms maybe I’ve heard of but which does not readily come to mind, I’ll lean toward plotting on paper to do them justice. However, if it’s a one-off story, which I write often to improve on specific areas of writing, I’ll free-write it with maybe some thought beforehand to hash out potential starting points. I find the whole idea of not knowing where I’m going with a story very liberating.

    I definitely think pantsing is a great idea for any writer to explore with at least some of their stories. I find that it helps to sharpen my instincts and feel more confident in taking risks while writing because between mile markers, there is still a lot of road for twists and turns to happen that can make the story better.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing your guys insight into writing. Always appreciated and beneficial.

    P.S. I was wondering if Randall remembers writing an essay titled The Writer’s Eye? I read it in a book called the Writer’s Handbook 1989 edition, which I bought from a thriftsale in college several years back, and it is what helped me get a new perspective on writing, allowing me last year to get back into the swing of things. So, thanks a lot Randall.

    • I do remember that essay, Brian. It was first published in The Writer magazine, then reprinted in their annual. Very nice of you to mention it. I think I also wrote something for that magazine about the writer’s ear. I wonder which body part I should tackle next…. 🙂 Anyway, thanks for writing. John and I appreciate your comments.

    • thewritershangout

      April 24, 2015 at 2:14 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Your comment about plotting for a technical story is spot-on. A tech thriller, scifi, or legal thriller are probably good examples of technical stories. –John

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