Thursday, May 8, 2014

Plotter or Pantser?

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There's really only two types of writers...Plotters or Pantsers. We all have different ideas of what that means to us and different reasons for writing the way we do.

Pantsers are aptly named. They're the ones who compose by 'the seat of their pants'. My friend Tammy Kane, who wrote "Breath of Fire", is a pantser. When I asked her why, she said. "I like just writing with an idea in mind. It keeps me interested because I'm dying to know how it ends." Not a bad idea at all, I'd say. If you can stick with your manuscript day after day, typing away going who knows where with your story, I say run with it. It actually sounds like quite an adventure when you look at it that way.

Another way pantsing works is for murder mysteries. Jessica Frost (One of her pseudonyms) gave me fantastic advice...when writing a murder mystery, never decide who the killer is when you start. Just put out suspects with motives and decide whodunnit later. Genius!

I am a plotter. I jot down my beginning and my end, and make notes on the events that need to happen in between. I think I'm more comfortable doing it this way because I thoroughly enjoy writing essays. Yes. Essays. I like them. They are FUN.

I like the structure. For me it's quicker to take notes and flesh them out. It also makes writing a synopsis a little easier. You can just look at your notes and condense.Yes, it does happen where something else more exciting or more realistic pops up. That doesn't mean you can't throw it in and adjust your plot accordingly.

It's like cooking. If you have a basic recipe, but the dish needs a little something you throw it in and taste it to see if you need to add anything else. Did you throw in basil and now the sauce is too sweet? Add a little garlic powder, maybe. Did you add a romantic scene and it threw off your character arc? How about if the lovers have a fight that changes their opinion of one another? When you're done, it should be pleasing to a reader's palate.

Here's a secret: I rarely pants anything. If I do, I RARELY ever finish. Not due to lack of interest...I get lost. I miss important parts to the story. Then I throw up my hands in exasperation and spend hours trying to figure out where I was going in the first place. Then I toss the whole mess out without finishing it.

If you are a writer, or want to be, which one would you choose? Do you follow the recipe? Or throw in whatever you have in your cupboards? I'd love to know...

Now if you'll excuse me, I've made myself hungry. Maybe I'll just order Take-Out.


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  2. Panster. I like to keep my pants on while I write.

    On a serious note, I start out with an idea and then my protagonists inform me that they have different ideas.

  3. I am definitely a plotter. Each essay or school report had an outline, and a few rough drafts before the good copy.