This week's writing prompt asks whether participating authors are plotters or pantsers--and why.
There's no doubt about it: I'm a pantser. The thought of outlining my own stories and writing character descriptions and backgrounds gives me hives. Make no mistake, when I ghostwrite, I expect my clients to provide me with that information. I don't read minds. But for my own work, I begin with an idea or, perhaps, just a scene in my head and it's all systems GO. When it comes to telling stories, I like the advice given in Beauty by Robin McKinley: "Begin in the middle and work outwards. Don't be stuffy."
It shouldn't surprise anyone that I take writing advice from a book based on a fairy tale. (What may surprise folks is that I am not spontaneous person. It's a family joke that I plan my spontaneity.)
I couldn't exactly say why I write as a pantser other that I always have. Even when writing nonfiction or ghostwriting, much of it is seat-of-the-pants production. I "hear" the characters and "feel" their personalities, then try to convey that in print. When writing nonfiction, I do rely more on plotting, but that's because it's necessary to get my thoughts in order to flow in logical fashion so that the reader understands where I'm going and how I got there. That's not so crucial in fiction, although it often works out that way. When writing my own fiction, the characters carry me along on their adventures.
Someone once said, "No plot survives contact with the characters." In my experience, that's absolutely true. So why bother planning?
5/10/2019 10:34:44 am
"No plot survives contact with the characters." Never heard that one before, but I couldn't agree more. I always start with a basic outline, but my characters always surprise me with interesting suggestions along the way. How nice to be able to say that to someone who won't tell me I need therapy for my delusions. Happy writing!
5/10/2019 11:52:33 am
My husband and kids joke that "Mom's hearing voices again" when I write. Hey, it's better I write what they say rather than do what they say, right? Who knows how that weirdness would turn out?
5/10/2019 11:46:12 am
Great post. I do like a deep character profile. But I don't plan the entire story, I found just a loose idea works best for me, though I am going to try something different next book so I don't get so willy nilly and repetitive.
What you wrote about hearing and feeling the characters makes perfect sense. I learn about my characters by living with them in my day to day life and thinking about how they would act even during boring daily routines. It might sound strange (or maybe not), but that's how I get to know them.
5/15/2019 06:01:26 am
I like the advice about beginning in the middle and working outward. I used to be 100% pantser, but somewhere along the line I began to plan more. Too much planning though distracts me from writing, if that makes sense, then it's time to sit the butt in the chair and write.
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