Guest Post: Plantser: The Hybrid Model

*Big Wave to Pete* Thanks for letting me take over your blog temporarily to share some of my thoughts on the pantser vs. plotter debate.

I am not a pantser. I can’t just let a story evolve in front of me. I do not write detailed outlines and know how the story ends before I start writing it. So I guess I’m not a true plotter either.

I’m one of those hybrid writers–those plantsers you hear about from time to time.

For me, writing is part story mapping, part discovery. It’s the ultimate road trip. I have an idea of where I am going, but am open to detours and changes in the route. I need a destination that I am making my way toward, but know that I might not end up exactly where I planned.

I usually come up with a concept–an inherent conflict that sets my characters in motion. Then the characters come to me. I play with them inside my mind. Seeing who they are and how they react to things.

I’ll jot down an occasional note on my laptop or Post-its. Whichever suits my mood. I keep the Post-its above my desk or in a file folder.

I take my time building my story world. Before I start to write, I sit down and put together a two-five page synopsis of the novel. Enough to get me going. The end is usually blank. I can’t end a story before I begin it. But I can draw a road map to where I think it should head.

I spend months imagining the opening scene. Fine tuning it in my head. Once I have it down, I put fingers to keyboard.

Finding my process involved a lot of trial and error. When I tried to write without the outline, I got stuck and had to outline as I went. That was a frustrating experience for me. But I learned pantsing wasn’t for me.

Realizing I needed a plan of some sort, I tried different things out. More planning, less planning. My first manuscript had a 12-page outline, my second 48 pages, my third 5 pages and my fourth had 2 pages.

It doesn’t matter if I like a 20-page outline and you like no outline. What matters is that you are writing. That you feel you are being productive. That your method is working for you.

And who knows, you might find your method evolves with each book and that you slide along the spectrum of plotter to pantser.

What it really comes down to is: am I getting words down on paper? Am I meeting my word count needs? Is the story coming out of me?

And no matter how you write, if your answer is yes to those 3 questions, you are writing the right way for you.

The Six Train to Wisconcin

The Six Train to Wisconsin Back Cover:

Sometimes saving the person you love can cost you everything.

There is one person that ties Oliver Richter to this world: his wife Kai. For Kai, Oliver is the keeper of her secrets.

When her telepathy spirals out of control and inundates her mind with the thoughts and emotions of everyone within a half-mile radius, the life they built together in Manhattan is threatened.

To save her, Oliver brings her to the hometown he abandoned—Butternut, Wisconsin—where the secrets of his past remain buried. But the past has a way of refusing to stay dead. Can Kai save Oliver before his secrets claim their future?

An emotionally powerful debut, The Six Train to Wisconsin pushes the bounds of love as it explores devotion, forgiveness and acceptance.

Author Bio:


Kourtney Heintz writes emotionally evocative speculative fiction that captures the deepest truths of being human. For her characters, love is a journey never a destination.

She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, her supportive parents and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amuck at night, imagining a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide.

Her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin, was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist.

Connecting with the Author Online



Facebook Page:



Amazon Author Central Page:



Buy Links


Paperback available from:


Barnes and Noble


Ebook available from:


Barnes and Noble




My thanks to Kourtney for agreeing to Guest Post. I like the idea of the Hybrid Model and The Six Train to Wisconsin in next on my TBR pile 🙂

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21 Responses to Guest Post: Plantser: The Hybrid Model

  1. Pete Denton says:

    Thanks for guest posting, Kourtney. I think you’re right that it’s about finding what works for you. Reading about how other writers approach their work help generate some ideas to weave into your own writing style.

    Good luck with the rest of your blog tour and with The Six Train to Wisconsin. 🙂

    • Kourtney Heintz says:

      I really enjoyed adding my two cents to this lively debate, Pete! Reading about others’ processes helped me realize it was okay to tailor my process rather than stick to one that didn’t feel right for me. Thanks so much! 🙂

  2. Kourtney, you are a woman after my own heart. Your way of writing sounds like mine! I haven’t found anyone in my two critique groups who works this way and was feeling a little strange. Best of luck with your book!

    • Kourtney Heintz says:

      That’s great to hear Noelle! When I first read how J.K. Rowling knew the end of the Harry Potter series while writing book 1, I felt so sad because I never write that way. So clearly I was a fraud–or so I told myself. It took me a long time to realize every writer has their way of doing things. And that’s okay and normal. 🙂 Thanks! Best of luck with your writing!

  3. 4amWriter says:

    Well, as you know, I have discovered this hybrid model myself fairly recently. I love it. You really can make the best out of both methods once you find which elements of pantsing and plotting work for you.

    • Kourtney Heintz says:

      Exactly Kathryn. I love tailoring things to my needs. Why live in a cookie cutter writing world? I thoroughly enjoyed your post on this hybrid model and how it works for you!

  4. jmmcdowell says:

    Well, I’m sensing a trend here, although I’m coming from the pantsing side. I’m trying a hybrid method with my next Meghan Bode mystery because it was “rather” stressful to write a story live for the blog and not know where it was going!

    Like you said so well, every writer is different and we shouldn’t expect to be able to use a “one size fits all” style of writing. And we might find our methods change from book to book. But if we’re moving forward and writing a good story, then we’re using the right method(s) for us.

    • Kourtney Heintz says:

      I couldn’t agree more JM! 🙂 We can slide all around on the pantser to plotter continuum. All that matter is that we are getting the story down and we are happy with our progress. I don’t know how you did that btw–I was so impressed by how well you pantsed it on your blog!

  5. Gwen says:

    I had not heard the term “Plantser” before (I cringed at what I’d assumed was a typo), but it makes perfect sense! I may be something of a Plantser, too. Funny, I’m planning a post for Monday that’s loosely related to this topic. Very cool.

    • Kourtney Heintz says:

      LOL. Aw Gwen, I’m glad you cringed for me. 😉 It does look like a typo. I think the first time I heard it was on August McLaughlin’s blog. How cool that this topic came to us so close together! Great minds and all I guess.

      • Gwen says:

        Haha – glad to be grouped in the great minds category with you. I was inspired by the daily post prompt “normal” so I decided to make that Monday’s topic. My “plantsing” post will be featured on Thursday now.

        • Kourtney Heintz says:

          LOL. You are definitely in that category! 🙂 Oh I’ll make sure to pop by on Thursday and check it out. Monday also sounds very cool. Two wonderful posts to look forward to this week!

  6. Plantsing! So THAT’S what I do! I wrote about my writing style a while back. Check it out if you wish:

    Great post, Kourtney!

    • Kourtney Heintz says:

      Thanks Mike! I didn’t fall nicely into either of the two camps. Then I read about plantsing and I thought yup that’s me. 🙂 Nice to meet a fellow plantser!

  7. The term is a new one for me. I’m a half pantser, half planner (outliner) and between the two things seem to work okay. But this new approach sounds better. Interesting post.

    • Kourtney Heintz says:

      Hey Silvia! When I first started writing I thought I had to fall into one camp. Planning felt more natural but then stifling as I wrote. Pantsing left me unable to type after a page. I was delighted when I discovered plantsing. Finally a method that let me do it my way. 🙂

  8. Kourtney Heintz says:

    Thanks again for having me on your blog Pete! I’ve enjoyed following this debate on your blog. And I can’t wait to hear what you think of Six Train! 🙂

  9. EllaDee says:

    The best of both worlds… and Six Train is evidence of your successful application of the combination 🙂

  10. Pingback: Sunday Interview – Kourtney Heintz | mywithershins

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