My friend Roni Loren has often mentioned that she has “plotting envy.” Like many pantsers (those who write by the seat of their pants), she wonders if her writing method is the best she could do. Pantsing can feel a little like magic—we trust our subconscious to come up with plot twists, character depth, and elements we couldn’t consciously come up with in a year of plotting—and we worry the magic will one day disappear.
Pantsing can also feel like a bad match for those of us who are perfectionists. We normally leave nothing to chance, so leaving a whole novel’s worth of words to chance can feel wrong.
Because of this, workshops abound with “plotting for pantsers” ideas. Yet no one puts on “pantsing for plotters” workshops. Why? Is pantsing seen as a less valid writing method?
Do “Real” Writers Plot?
I pantsed my first story (a Harry Potter fan fiction story) with only a general situation in mind. I had a blast and was thoroughly bitten by the writing bug.
But for my next novel, an original story, I plotted. And by “plotted,” I mean I had chapter-by-chapter outlines, character sheets with full histories for all the main characters, emotional arcs for every scene, etc. (Perfectionists can be dangerously thorough. *smile*) I thought that’s what “real” writers did.
That story originally had no voice and was painfully clunky. Paying attention to my outlines meant I wasn’t listening to my muse. Umpteen revisions later, I’m still not happy with how that story turned out. The near-failure almost convinced me that I wasn’t cut out to be a writer.
My Subconscious Is More Creative than My Conscious Mind
In the midst of revising that story, I had another story idea and interrupted my edits to pound out the first 30,000 words in a few days. I had zero plans for the plot or character arc, but my muse had a good handle on the characters themselves. The whole story practically wrote itself.
At first, I thought I’d go back to my plotting ways for the next book. This one was probably just an anomaly. I’m a perfectionist—I couldn’t possibly be… *imagine a grimace here* …a pantser.
But then my next story was pantsed with even less information, just a first line. Again, the story wrote itself, right down to foreshadowing, subplots, character arcs, etc.
This was what writing was supposed to be like. Magic.
I Am a Pantser
So unlike many other pantsers, I have no plotting envy. I’ve been there, done that, and I know the truth. Plotting doesn’t work for me.
I have no second thoughts or doubts about my pantsing ways. My analytical nature has figured out that the magic of pantsing makes logical sense for me. Rather than wishing I could plot, I consider myself a “reformed plotter.” *grin*
Now I’m a firm believer in letting my muse run the show. I simply write what he tells me to. (Yes, my muse, an arrogant alpha-male type, loves this arrangement, but when he’s right, he’s right. *sigh*)
So What Gives with the “Plotting for Pantsers” Class?
With all that history, you might wonder why I’m giving a class called “Lost Your Pants? An Impatient Writer’s Guide to Plotting a Story.” Heh. Honestly, I’m being sneaky.
I have no intention of trying to change anyone’s methods or of teaching pantsers how to plot. *pshaw* People should use whatever approach works for them. However…
Back when I had a post about fast drafting, everyone who successfully completed a fast draft (including me with my word sprints) had pre-planned the story or scene a bit. So this class is geared to help pantsers plan their story just enough to give their fingers a goal to write toward.
I’ll share techniques and tools so pantsers can plan without actually plotting. I’m using these techniques myself on my novel I’ll be working on in NaNo (National Novel Writing Month). (Yes, I officially signed up for my first NaNo. Feel free to add me as a buddy—I’m “Jami Gold.” Creative, right?)
When I made a sample of my worksheet to use as an example for the class, it took me all of 15 minutes (thus the “Impatient Writer” part of the class title) to fill in the page. Usually, we wouldn’t even need to complete the whole worksheet. Trust me—being a confirmed pantser—I have no intention of trying to convince anyone to plot. *smile*
If you want to join me, block off 7:00 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, October 23rd and Thursday, October 25th, 2012, and click here to sign up for the class.
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Do you consider plotting to be a more valid writing method, like what a “real” writer would do? Are you a pantser with plotting envy? Or a confirmed pantser, happy with your method? (Any plotters with pantsing envy out there? *grin*) If you’re a pantser, do you plan anything in advance? Have you been successful with fast drafting or NaNo before?Pin It