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Monday, March 14, 2011

Plotter or Pantser?

This post originally appeared on my blog in June 2009. I've been sick with a stomach bug and couldn't find the time to write a blog post for today. Hope you enjoy...

I had a totally different post written for today, but something happened that made me want to write about it. On one of the loops I’m on a discussion turned to plotting and flying by the seat of your pants – aka pantser. One person really irked me. She gave great detail why she’s a plotter (all valid I must say), but then she closed with. “I’ve come to realize that plotters are professionals and pantser's are only writing for hobby.”
Hold on. Hit the rewind button on that. Hobby? I don’t park my butt down every day (before going to my full time job) to pump out 1k words for a HOBBY! I took offense to that. I’m a pantser by every sense of the word. I get an idea from a line in a song, a character on television, or someone I see out on the street, and then I run with it.
Take my book Research Required for instance. The heroine is waiting for a pizza to be delivered when someone knocks at her door. She’s expecting the delivery boy, not some gorgeous guy. The hero has gone to the wrong apartment. That’s all I had to start with. Nothing special.
As I sat and wrote the story I couldn’t believe the twist and turns that have sprung to life. This story turned out to be a romantic suspense. Oh, BTW, it started out as a straight contemporary romance. So, you see for me flying by the seat of my pants works.
Here’s another point. Recently I had to write a synopsis for a short story. I didn’t want to write the full story if the editor didn’t feel it would fit her current anthology. She loved the idea and asked me to write it. I knew the beginning, middle and end. Great, right?
I struggled with getting the words down on paper. In fact, I secretly thought the story sucked big time. I’ll know better when I go back to edit. The point is I plotted this one. Maybe it’s in my head, maybe not. All I know is for right now pantsing seems to work for me. When I try to deviate from this I get stuck. Maybe some time in the future that will change and I’ll become a plotter, but for now I’m sticking with what works.
What’s your thought being a plotter or pantser?


Marie Rose Dufour said...

Hope you are feeling better soon. I am a total pantser. If I try and plot it out, somehow I lose interest in the story. Weird but true!

Linda Kage said...

Each person's muse works differntly. The way in which an author works doesn't seem nearly as important to me compared to what kind of end product they can produce. Whatever gets your creative juices flowing, I say run with it. Pants away!

Katalina Leon said...

That comment about only "plotters" being professional was so provoking! It's a great example of how trapped some people are in their own stuff.
I plot a rough beginning, middle and an end, but I constantly swerve away from the original plan. I have to-the characters want me to and I work for them! lol
PS I hope you feel better soon.

Amber Skyze said...

The woman infuriated me with her comment about it being a hobby for pantsers. I agree whatever works for the person writing. :)

Anonymous said...

Pantser here. I like order in my everyday life but I haven't been able to apply much order to my writing. I know how my characters will meet and know their biggest goals and that's about it. Characters and where I set the book are tour guides to my plots. Doing it any other way feels like I'm forcing and coercing the story to follow a route it isn't supposed to be taking.


Molly Daniels said...

I've discovered I do a combination of both. I've started several books with absolutely no clue what was about to happen, and after my characters 'meet', they quit speaking to me. I've also got one book which came to me with beginning, middle, and end fully formed...and stalled out in Ch 3. But I've successfully written books with a vague idea of the plot, and could not stop writing once I started.

I've discovered if I don't have a clear idea of who my characters are, and what their basic 'plot' is, beyond meeting, falling in love, etc, I'll stall out in the first chapter. But half the fun is seeing them throw up obstacles which I DIDN'T plan.

And I'm in total agreement about that woman's comment: Totally ludicrous.

Tina Donahue said...

I'm definitely a plotter. My outlines are often as long as my books. Works for me. By the time I'm done with my outline, I really breeze through the first draft of the novel :)

Amber Skyze said...

I love how everyone has their own style...that's what makes us writers. :)
Thanks ladies.

Sandy said...

Hope you're better now.

I do a little bit of both when it comes to plotting or being a pantser.

The woman obviously didn't know what she was talking about. We know all some know-it-alls. Smile.

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