Saturday, June 12, 2010

Confessions of a Pantser

First off- check out the new blog! I wasn't really happy with the old template, and I am very fond of green- so here it is :).

Now back to today.

I have a confession- I'm a pantser (or pantster- seen it both ways ;), for those of you not in the RWA (the first place I saw this term) it means someone who writes by the seat of their pants. AKA- the antithesis of a "plotter". But that's not really the secret confession.

I love being a seat of the pants type of gal. My more organic style of writing has taken me to many places that my story would never have gone had I plotted it out. Part of it is because in the time of writing a novel a person changes who they are. Each day the world influences your mental state of being. Things not noticed previously suddenly take on a new color and vibrancy and pop up as a twist in the story. That vividness is the main reason I have always written the way I do.

Also, I'm afraid if I know the whole story I might lose my drive to write it. I write to find out what happened. Just like the reader, I keep going thinking, "And THEN what happened?!"

That is me, it's how I write, how I create.

My confession is that I may have to reevaluate it at least for one project.

*cue DUM DUM DUMMMM music here*

As many of you know, I am working on multiple projects. Editing (in theory) a science fiction book, finishing the rough draft of a humorous fantasy (word count listed here on the blog), and working my way with PAINFUL slowness to the half way point on my Victorian SF/steampunk book, A Curious Invasion (also tracked here).

A Curious Invasion is becoming a curious book indeed. I still love my characters, love the plot. I love where things are going...but it just won't move. Now it could be the pull of the almost finished book. Those characters are old friends, the world is my very own, and is more comfortable than the world of A Curious Invasion. But whatever the reason- things just ain't moving.

For a challenge for my local RWA chapter, I need to get to 50,000 words by June 19th. Take a quick look at the word widget to the's not happening.

I was hitting 1,000 words a day between the two projects, now I'm lucky to get 500 a few days out of the week.

I may have to break down and do an outline....I may have to (wait for it) PLOT the rest of A Curious Invasion! Now, I know this is a radical concept. But I've seen these "plotter" folks before- they seem fairly normal. The plotting really hasn't scarred them that I can see. They function in polite society without facing mocking from others.

I can do this and survive. Or so I keep telling myself.

The fact is, I need to do something, some radical triage to find out why this book is just running around chasing it's tail at 43,000 words.

So tomorrow I will begin a plot outline. Today I will steel myself for it through a brunch and movie afternoon with some friends. Fortify myself for the coming psychological battle between my freewheeling, hippy, panster psyche and my rational, "this ain't working girlfriend" brain.

I will post the results of the ensuing battle here for the world to see.

Wish me luck!


  1. I do wish you luck.

    I was a pantser for my first book. I wrote a summary for the sequel. I'm not always following the summary, but I had such a hard time editing the first book, I thought if I had written a summary first, maybe I wouldn't have had so many things to correct.

    So, maybe I'm a mix between a plotter & pantser. I think I need a basic summary (outline?), but not the details spelled out. Just something to keep me on track (or at least if I change the direction, it's not way out of the way).

  2. By the way, I like green, too! Your blog looks nice.

  3. Thanks Stacy! Yeah today is the day....I start trying to outline something-LOL!!! I've made it through three books, one almost book (the 84,000 widget above) but I am just stuck now! It may be the mulitple projects. But since being a professional writer is starting to look more and more like more than one book a year- coming up with some sort of outline may be manditory for me from here on out.

    Rock on green! :)

  4. Love the look of your blog! Okay, I'm a plotter. Have to say that up front. And while it's true we can function in polite society, we are often made fun of (by pantsers, especially!). But give it a try. Don't try to plan every move your characters are going to make--just a loose structure that still gives them room to move. And know that they'll still do what they want. I revise my plot after every chapter to accommodate my misbehaving characters!

  5. Thanks Suzanne :). I promise to never mock plotters :). Although today I didn't start my outline- fear got my fingers moving and I hit 3,500 words-LOL.

    Doesn't mean I won't still try the outline, I have another 50,000 left in this stubborn little book and I can't run like this through all of it ;)