Why a Dedicated Pantser has taken to Plotting (of sorts!)

Pantser by nature

For those of you unsure what this strange beast might be, a pantser is someone who writes by the seat of their pants.

In other words, someone like me. When I wrote my first novel h-hm years ago, I started with an interesting scene and let the story develop. I had absolutely NO idea where it was going.

It was a wonderful, fun, exciting journey, discovering all about the characters and their worlds (it was SF).

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I gave myself the most unplanned start possible – a character who wakes in an unknown place, with no idea who she is. I spent months uncovering the truth (she was a galactic dictator!) and finding a solution to her story. Dialogue and action took me to amazing places, as the characters wrote their own story – all 200,000 words of it!

Pantsing – with an ending

I joined a writer’s group while this process was on going and learned a bit more about the craft. I set out on my next novel with an opening scene and an ending in mind. The pantsing process took me from one to the other, with just a little more steering from me. It was still massive fun, and that novel came out pretty well. KISHTAN’S GEM was a prequel to THE PRINCE’S MAN, and with a future overhaul it will eventually see the light of day when I’ve finished the current trilogy.

Prince’s Man was written in the same way, with a starting scene and an ending, and the rest developing as I went along.

Pantsing to Plotting

Now, though, I feel I have to grow up at last. With wonderful fans calling for the sequel to Prince’s Man, and with the amazing reviews that have come in, I feel the weight of responsibility. There is so much I need to put into the sequel – threads that need tying up or developing further, scenarios that were thrust into motion by events in the first book. Expectations of the second one that were not there for a debut novel.

Yikes!

By the time I was part way into Prince’s Man I knew it was going to be at least a 3 parter, and the subsequent 2 books formed in my head. Vaguely.

So now it’s time to actually sit down and write.

Or is it?

Finally, I realise why so many authors advise plotting first. With so many threads that need to be intricately woven together as the next book develops, I can’t hold them all in my head. I have scattered notes on bits of paper all over the place, (and yes, I’ve heard of programmes like Scrivener, but its just one more thing to delay me if I stop to learn it right now), and I don’t want to get three quarters of the way through and find I need to backtrack to twist in another yarn. That takes even more time.

Obvious solution – plot before writing.

I’ve always believed that plotting would take the fun out writing for me. News flash – IT HASN’T!

I’m still not plotting as rigidly as some – those who know exactly what is going to happen in each individual chapter before they begin – but I’ve planned my individual plot strands, MDQ (Major Dramatic Query), 3 act story for pacing, and character arcs for this novel. And now I’ve started writing, I’m STILL finding it fun.

So whilst I’m sticking to the general direction, sometimes those characters just don’t want to go quietly, and a new idea appears…

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How about you? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Or a hybrid, like me? If you’re considering writing, or just starting, have you even considered these paths? I’d love to hear your story.

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4 comments

  1. Lol Deb, I’m like you! I’m both. I like to get ahead of myself and somewhere along the way I need a plan. That was hilarious! So nice to know you!

    1. Ditto!
      And I must say I resisted planning/plotting for ever so long, certain it would remove the fun and creativity of writing. I’m so pleased to find it doesn’t, and in addition it gives me the sense of security I need to write with the pressure of expectation I’ve never had to deal with before.
      Lovin’ this journey 🙂

      1. I so agree. I suppose that is the initial response of writer to want to explore their creativity freely but eventually, we need to put things in perspective so as to not lose our train of thought and direction. I think it’s called discipline! 🙂

      2. Lol, I think you’re right! 😉

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