Elaine Forrestal

This living language of ours

How about a pantsy picture?

I have always been a fan of character based stories, as opposed to plot driven ones. But I had decided I should try and learn more about the plot element of story. And I did.

Not only did I learn a lot about plot at the excellent Plotting Workshop run by Annabelle Smith, I also became aware of just how fast a living language can acquire a new word. ‘Pantsy’ – as in flying by the seat of one’s pants’. It’s the direct opposite of Planning, as a way of describing how authors of fiction go about the writing task. The English language has so recently acquired this word that there is no official spelling of it, as yet. Certainly my auto-correct doesn’t recognise it and wants me to write ‘patsy’. It is only quite recently that I have begun to hear the writing process categorised in this way and yet already this new word has become so commonly used as to be accepted by academics, editors, workshop presenters and others working in the field.

Of course all living languages change over time as words are added, change their meaning, or fall away from lack of use, but I have never known such an unlikely word to bounce into common usage so quickly.

Do you think Miss Llewellyn-Jones is pantsy, or a plotter?