Planner or Pantser – Which Are You? [Quiz]

Most writers have some idea how organized they prefer to be when writing but the techniques of “Seat of the Pants” writers can differ greatly from “Planners”. You might feel more comfortable with a routine and plan in your every day life but find this structure stifling to your creativity when you write. Maybe you go with the flow from day to day but need to have solid goals and plans to make progress with your novel. Take this short quiz to find out if you’re a Pantser, a Planner, or somewhere between.

  1. You get the idea for a character while washing dishes one evening.
    1. You immediately dry your hands, take note of every detail, branch off, brainstorm and freewrite to explore all the possible characteristics and potential stories this character could be involved in.
    2. You dry your hands and swiftly note down significant key points as memory joggers then return to the suds.
    3. You continue to ponder the character as you wash, rinse, and dry then write down your final findings and concepts.
    4. You think it over but continue with the dishes and decide to write about it at some unspecified time in the future.
    5. You go off (either immediately or after the dishes) and begin a brand new story with this character as the star.

  2. You’re asked to write a play for the Pre-Ks at the local community center.
    1. You stare at a blank page for a few hours (or days) then right before the deadline rush together a few pages the kids will have fun with.
    2. You go to the center, talk to the kids and teachers to get an idea of their interests, abilities, and individual characters.
    3. You head straight home and pull out a dusty script about your pet dog that you wrote in grade school.
    4. You craft an outline and consider the various roles and the ramifications of a moral theme.
    5. You scratch out the first page of a dozen ideas but can’t settle on just one for the kids play.

  3. You’ve just finished reading the final installment of a fantastically detailed trilogy.
    1. You are still ga-ga over the characters and the intricacy of the plot and have been totally swept away by the story.
    2. You allow your mind to play connect-the-dots with the plot and enjoy the intricate and careful crafting involved.
    3. You start experimenting with fan-fiction off-shoots because you’re hooked on the characters and want more adventures for them.
    4. You gape at the astounding beauty of the piece and give up writing because you “know” you couldn’t possibly match it.
    5. You start reading the books again; making notes in the margins and underlining notable passages, dissecting the book to see how the author accomplished it.

  4. Your midway through writing chapter five when you decide you really can’t stand your protagonist.
    1. You stop writing immediately, shelve the manuscript, and decide you’ll come back “someday” when you understand her better.
    2. You stop writing and start examining your mood, the more recent events, and the character to first determine why you no longer like him and then how to “fix” him.
    3. You keep writing and decide to see where she’s headed before you act.
    4. You keep writing but add a dramatic death scene within the next couple of pages turning your focus on a new or secondary character instead.
    5. You spend a short time giving your character an interview to discuss her thoughts and see if you can work out, together, what to do next.

  5. A new family move next door and you hear strange noises at night but see nothing of them during the day.
    1. You call the police to report the weirdos but later discover that the mother is simply a shift worker, the father’s a novelist, and the oldest child is a rap-loving teenager.
    2. You watch from your upstairs office window, trying to see their vampire teeth or wolves fur in the moonlight.
    3. You start playing the “what if” game and generate some great story ideas based on what this family could be if they were characters in a book.
    4. You start writing blog entries or shorts about them, each with a wilder explanation than the last.
    5. You go over, introduce yourself, offer a cup of sugar and hear all about their recent trip to Brazil and her obsession with photography – all fodder for your next book.

Tally Your Points:

  1. a. 5, b. 4, c. 3, d. 2, e. 1
  2. a. 3, b. 5, c. 2, d. 4, e. 1
  3. a. 3, b. 4, c. 1, d. 2, e. 5
  4. a. 3, b. 5, c. 1, d. 2, e. 4
  5. a. 3, b. 2, c. 4, d. 1, e. 5

  • 5 – 7 points [Pantser]
  • You’re a true Pantser. You can fly with any idea and love to leap before you look. You’ve got pages of stories started but rarely finished and love to play around with new concepts, tying it all together with creativity and an exciting flare for adventure.
  • 8 – 12 points [Pre-Pantser]
  • You’d love to throw caution to the winds but often hold back from just diving right in. You prefer to consider multiple options but can go along with any challenge and turn any good idea into a potential story.
  • 13 – 17 points [Middle Grounder]
  • You’re in the safe zone and often struggle to write anything at all. You enjoy exploring ideas but want to find the best ones and don’t like wasting time writing about things you aren’t passionate about. You’ll start stories with some planning but also enjoy the adventure of taking detours.
  • 18 – 22 points [Pre-Planner]
  • You like to do the legwork in your mind. You’ll sometimes plan things out and often have the basic map laid out in your head but keep adding to your plans and are flexible for changes. You generally have a solid destination in mind when you begin writing but aren’t sure of all the roads you’ll need to take to get their. You’re familiar with your main characters but often face blocks caused by being unsure what course they would most likely take in a given situation.
  • 23 – 25 points [Planner]
  • You like to brainstorm and outline every detail before you begin. You know your characters intimately and understand their deep motivations. You can be a little pedantic and often spend so much time planning and researching that you don’t leave enough to actually spend writing. When you do write you know exactly what to expect from every scene and work intricate details across our novel like knitting a sweater.

[Disclaimer: This quiz is not scientific and results may vary. It would be wonderful to share your results with you. What answers did you give and do you feel your result is accurate? Did you enjoy the quiz? Would you like me to put together more in the future? Would you like this one to be more detailed?]

[Note: You’re welcome to discuss the quiz on your own blog/website if you have one. If you do, please link to the quiz rather than copying it and post a comment with a link to your site/blog so we can visit you.]

By Rebecca Laffar-Smith

Y.A. Science Fiction and Fantasy Author - Escape Reality; Experience Possibility!

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