Posts Tagged ‘pantser’

On writing: I finally know what I am

December 31, 2013 26 comments

So, that other day I was reading Lucinda Whitney’s blog post discussing my favorite writing software, Scrivener. It’s a great post, and you should go read it. But that’s not why I’m referring to it here.

There have been many discussions on writing styles and their relative merits. Those typically talked about are the “pantser” and the “plotter”, both fairly descriptive of the approach taken by an individual favoring one way or the other. As I was reading Lucinda’s post, though, I ran across a term she used to refer to her writing style, and I must admit that I like it. Check out the following excerpt:

But what I love the most about the binder is the ability to move around the chapters and scenes. As a discovery writer, I sometimes write scenes/chapters out of sequential order. If the inspiration strikes, I write it and I worry later where it goes in the story.

Did you see it? Discovery writer. What a wonderful term. To me, it seems so much more elegant than “pantser”, and seems to convey the real process of writing we non-plotters pursue.

It’s nice to finally know what I really am 🙂

And since this is my last post of the year, I’d like to also wish all my blog friends a wonderful and happy new year. I’m looking forward to keeping up with everyone’s journeys over the following months. Be safe, and see you next year!



On writing: Pantser’s dilemma

August 27, 2013 15 comments

When it comes to writing, I’m a pantser (as in fly by the seat of my pants). I’ve always been one. An idea will come to me … a scene, a line of dialogue, a title. Just about anything can start me off on something that I know is a bigger story. Once that happens, I’ll sit down and start typing away. Almost always, the words will then flow onto the virtual page. Soon, I feel like I’m watching a story unfold and I become an observer, there to simply record what’s happening, like a courtroom stenographer. When I’m in this mode of writing, there is no better feeling. It’s quite a magical journey. But there is a downside to this style of writing, and it finds me frequently (thankfully not always).

For example, my current work in progress is complete in the sense that it has an opening and an ending (both pretty close to what I originally thought of back when the story first came to me) and, for the most part, all that goes in between. But now I feel stuck. I have characters that I don’t think are fully realized, and a significant plot detail that I haven’t dealt with very well, at least in my mind. So I’ve been spinning my wheels over and over, trying to figure out how to flesh out my main characters. And the plot detail in question, which is central to the story, has been just about impossible for me to work with, leaving me less than satisfied with how it plays out through the book. So what does this have to do with anything?

Well, I’ve begun wondering if I would be in this same position had I switched over to the other end of the writing spectrum, to that of a plotter. The plotter, unlike me, thinks about the structure of their story and outlines the plot and characters and chapters and scenes before typing away at the story itself. If I’d spent time thinking about everything beforehand, would I have envisioned the problematic plot element earlier and perhaps avoided missing the mark? Would my characters be more three-dimensional and believable? And would my overall novel have turned out better? Or would it have fallen flat and felt stale from overthinking every detail? Would all the spontaneity and fun of writing evaporate, leaving the experience dull and boring?

I don’t have the answers to these questions for myself, yet, though I’ve read many writers on both sides of the fence swear by what they are doing, whether it’s taking a structured approach, or pantsing their way through from beginning to end, or even mixing the two together. Time will tell, but I am tempted to try writing my next book from somewhere over on the side of the plotter, just to see how it goes.

Anyone have opinions? Are you a plotter? A pantser? A combination of both, a hybrid method of sorts (making you an inbetweener as I’ve heard someone else call this)?