A pantser, by the way, is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer. In short, that's someone who does the polar opposite of what I do when I'm writing. The writer L.G. Smith describes the pantser process on her blog (which is fantastic, and which you should follow like I do): "I'm mostly a pantser, meaning I don't plan out my novels in advance of writing them. I tend to jump in the deep end and see how long it takes me to either drown or swim. Knock on wood, I've managed to swim back to shore with my last two novels."
Essentially, what this means is that a pantser writer doesn't need an outline or need help with a plot skeleton, because she doesn't have a skeleton at all. She has a big glommy viscous mass of ideas, sort of like a giant jellyfish, that she plops onto a page, and plucks words and scenes and characters out of with magic elf-fingers and crafts into a beautiful story with a few waves of her mysterious magic elf-wand, and if by some small, weird chance there are problems with the story or basic things that just don't make sense, she pushes on through her jellyfish-idea-pile and sorts that little unimportant stuff out later.
At least, this is how I imagine it works.
I used to write this way, so you would think that I would know how it works, but considering the fact that I always ended up sobbing on the floor by my computer, banging my head against giant unsolvable plot problems and begging my characters to cooperate, I think it's safe to say that I have no freaking clue.
I do not understand how people use this non-process and make it work; or, to continue with L.G. Smith's metaphor, how they don't end up drowning in an immense confusing ocean of a plot hole.
But they do. They write novels and get them published, and the novels are pretty amazing, and I'm willing to bet that they don't sob through the entire process. I admire these writers the way I would admire a pink fairy armadillo: with a lot of amazement and disbelief, and also a big dose of jealousy, because who doesn't want a cute little pink shell of their very own???
And then there are people like me: the plotters (a word which looks and sounds suspiciously like "plodders"). The anal-retentive, neurotic, process-driven people who make outlines for fun and derive great satisfaction from organizing their books by subject matter, then alphabetical order by author within each subject.
Am I just describing myself? Oh...
I've already detailed how my process works in a series of posts, but here's an overview: 1) get a seed, 2) develop and research it, 3) psychoanalyze the hell out of your characters, 4) develop a basic story based on those characters, 5) create a plot skeleton, 6) flesh out the skeleton, 7) write each scene on the outline until you have a complete draft, 8) REJOICE AND DO GREAT DANCES OF CELEBRATION TO THE GODS OF WRITING, and then 9) edit and edit and edit and edit and edit and....
You know, I'm really glad I wrote out my process like that, in a mini-outline, because now I see at least two or three things I haven't written blogs posts about yet! Now I have new ideas! And I know what to write! Let me just jot down my ideas so I don't forget about them -
See how that works?