Tag Archives | pantsing

This is dedicated to all the pantsers out there.

P is for Pantsing

I understand it. Kind of.

Here’s what I know about pantsers:

  • Their creativity works best without an outline. They feel stifled and lose passion for a project with too much direction.
  • Sometimes they know the heart of their story, some of the plot points, the theme and then they just roll with it.
  • Sometimes after their first draft they might outline.
  • Pantsing sometimes requires more massive rewrites.

For the record I don’t think that one way is better than the other.

But I read about writers who are pantsers and after getting a book published, they try and figure out a little bit about outlining because now they have deadlines. They might not ever do a full-blown outline but they want to have less rewrites after the first draft.

I know some of you are pantsers – kind of sounds like gangsters – out there. So, tell me more about this writing style. Could you imagine if an outliner fell in love with a pantser? We’d have a total West Side Story on our hands.

Do my posts on story structure drive you nuts or do you find them helpful for the revision process? Or are you content reading me blabber on about it?

When and if during the process do you ever outline?

What kinds of craft books do you find the most helpful?

Do you spend time on character sheets or are your characters formulated as you write too?

I tried pantsing last summer. And even though the writing was okay, the plotting and story went absolutely nowhere. It must be a learned skill. One I don’t have.

Tell me about the joys of pantsing – sides to it I don’t know about it.

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How I Write (You mean I have to have a plot?)

Well, technically, yeah. You need a plot. You know the whole character wants something and can’t get it and tries multiple times until he succeeds? Yeah. That.

 Recently I experienced an epic total pantsing failure.

 I tried. Honestly. I said, okay, I have an idea. I have a title. I’m just going to go with it. I wrote 6 chapters. And though there are some funny moments, touching moments, and okay dialogue – it was missing a backbone.

 My story was a gushy, mushy, gelatin-like substance with nothing solid to hold it together. But I still had my idea and my title.

 So I started plotting. And it was as good as eating chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

 How I plot:

  1. I open a document and start free writing a bunch of What if and What then questions.
  2. I let it sit a couple days. I research. I let my brain work on it while I do other things. I dream. I think about the story I would want to read.
  3. I go back and pull out what sounds good. I write a logline. And then a paragraph summary. And I build from there. This might change drastically over the course of the story. My first idea is never my best.  
  4. Then I’ll work out the structure according to the 3 acts. Inciting force. First act climax. Middle of story twist. Dark moment. And then I build scene by scene toward the climax.
  5. And I’ll write a scene by scene outline.
  6. Finally, I start writing the first draft.

Does my outline change? Yes. And I adjust from there.

Constantly through out the outlining and writing I ask: How can I make this scene bigger or better? How can I make things worse for my character? How can I add emotion?

Click on the banner to find out how other writers plot! How do you plot? Any tips or tricks? Plotter or pantser? Share. 

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