Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pantsing and Plotting

One of the ongoing battles that writer types face is the eternal struggle between being a Pantser and a Plotter. Each earns its name from the way they write. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. They just sit down and write and see where the story takes them. Plotters carefully plot out the story with outlines and scene cards. Pantsers typically spend a lot more time revising their work. Some people think the Pantser/Plotter dichotomy is genetic, locked at birth. Others feel its a choice and regale us with their conversion experiences.

I know I desperately want to be a Plotter, and given my 'day job' I really should be. I'm a coder (Computer Programmer) by day and that pretty much requires being a Plotter, especially if , like me, you work as part of a team of coders. Yet, when it comes to my writing, I seem to be more of a Pantser. I've done a very basic outline of my story (that Mazil was extraordinarily helpful with). I've tried to use Tami's incredibly helpful outlining techniques, but they just don't seem to work as well for me as they did for her.

Case in point, I was writing yesterday and discovered a brand new character that I had not planned on. He's going to be a pretty helpful character to my Main Character. I had hinted at him in one of my early drafts, but I thought he would get mentioned in passing. Now it seems like he's not on board with that idea. He wants a bigger part in the story (don't you just hate it when characters do that!)

The crazy part is that I like the story better now with him having a much bigger role than I originally planned. He has allowed me to create some tension and explain parts of my story that needed a better explanation than I had originally given them.

For some reason I can't seem to help flying by the seat of my pants.


ThePinkPally said...

Whether we like it or not, the muses will have their way. :) Glad you hear the story is going well for you!

Ted said...

They certainly seem to have their ways. I think mine might be female, because she's so mysterious and she's always telling me I don't spend enough time with her.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mazil said...

Oh! Not at all, so glad I could help a little. It was inspiring to get the chance to work with someone a little, pre-NaNo :)

Plotting helps you write more tightly, but I think there always has to be some leeway, some outlet for the creative spirit that's flowing while you're writing. The surprises - the unplanned plot developments and characters - were the most enjoyable part for me, during NaNo.

That said, though, I don't think I could do away plotting... *hugs her outline tightly*