Saturday, June 6, 2015

My Life as a Pantser

In my early teens when I began writing, I didn’t even know there were different styles of writing. As a young woman, I was just thrilled with the idea of world building. I discovered I had the power to change a person’s fate with a few simple keystrokes and that fascinated me.

As the years went by and more responsibilities were piled onto my plate writing became secondary soon I’d stopped writing altogether. It wasn’t until just a few years back that I delved into world of fiction again employing the only method I’d ever known, the make-it-up-as-you-go-along method.

When I set out to create my first short story Captive I started with nothing but a blank Word document and the hero’s voice in my head. The plot and supporting characters would emerge during the course of that first draft.

As you might imagine my initial attempt at this short story didn’t go so well as plot lines were changed and/or added along the way. The second and third manuscript drafts were just slightly better. But, the more I wrote, and rewrote the more Captive began to resemble a cohesive storyline.

Most pantsers will tell you that allowing our imaginary friends to direct the course of a book is the most exciting aspect of the writing process. Pantsers might also tell you that this technique can be as equally frustrating.

Now, I’ve tried plotting and using character sheets before, but the process didn’t feel natural, so I reverted back to my pantser ways. However, once I began to adhere to stricter deadlines I realized I had to have a much more structured path to follow so I decided to give the plotting idea another spin.

I agree with those who say that plotting can be dull. Yes, planning and outlining is a departure from the spontaneity of ‘pantsing’, but bottom line, plotting makes me far more productive.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an exploratory writer at heart, but with continued practice I hope to get much better at this plotter thing. 

What are you a plotter or a pantser?