Into the Water Book Review & Plotting vs. Pantsing

Into the Water Book Review In today’s episode, I’m reviewing Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. You probably know Hawkins from her breakout novel, The Girl on the Train. But what you might not know is TGOTT isn’t actually her first book. It’s hard to not compare TGOTT with Into the Water, but I’ve done my best. On the other hand, there are some interesting comparisons and similarities between the books I found worth discussing.

For today’s “Writing Life” bit, I’m going over plotting and pantsing. If you don’t know what those are, the difference is pretty simple: Plotters outline their novels before they write; pantsers start with an idea and discover the story as they put it on the page. In reality, most people fall somewhere between these two extremes. (If you plotted every detail before you wrote, you’d technically already have a first draft – you know?) However, understanding which process is best for your next WIP is super important.

P.S. – This episode probably should have been titled “The Miracle” because, after recording it, my computer decided to completely stop workingCringe. I’m pretty sure it’s on its way out, but I was able to recover the episode audio file (and 20,000+ words of a work in progress – Whew). Just in case any of you are even remotely part of the IT industry, I’m not going to say how I got it working again – for the sake of my pride and your sanity. All that to say, if I’m a little late getting my next episode up, it means Black Friday didn’t go my way and I still don’t have a new computer. Life is full of adventures, isn’t it?

Books mentioned in this episode:

Into the Water – Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

Structuring Your Novel – K.M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel – K.M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel Workbook – K.M. Weiland

Story – Robert McKee



  1. Glad I came back for another listen! My wife and I listened to this episode together while enjoying some Mint Oreo Cookies. Your discussion of Into the Water was interesting. Neither of us have read it or The Girl on the Train, but of the two, I think I might actually go with Into the Water–I enjoy things with a good long build, so long as the climax is worthwhile.
    Your talk on Plotting vs. Pantsing is spot on. Stephen King is a prime example of a Pantser, and The Stand is definitely a good showcase of that. His characters go off and do things that seem a bit tangential at times, but the writing tends to be so good that you don’t care too much.
    I’m much more of a Plotter myself. I used to try for more of a mix, but my stories would always get away from me. Now that I’ve committed to a hard outline, I’m able to work through to the end and have things turn out how I wanted them. It can be a bit tricky, as sometimes Plotters end up forcing their characters to do things that the character doesn’t seem to ‘want’ to do, but I’ve found that by plotting everything out from beginning to end, I’m able to make the character choices seem natural.
    Pantsing is a lot of fun, though. There’s a certain energy that comes from it, so I’m sure to write up a short story every now and again from the seat of my pants, just for the fun of it. Those stories tend to end up being rather odd, though, so it’s probably a good thing that I normally plan things out!


    1. It’s true! Pantsing is a lot of fun – which is why I find myself doing it for shorter pieces. I enjoy the option of letting things flow, and with a smaller word count, it doesn’t seem as frustrating if I end up having to rework the structure or start over. So glad you guys enjoyed the episode and came back for another listen!


      1. Absolutely! Lots of people talk about books, but it’s nice to find a reader/blogger/writer who talks about…well…storytelling and writing. Someone who’s a bit more analytical. We really appreciate that!

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