Welcome to the blog of a chronic pantser, it’s nice to meet you! If you don’t know what a pantser is…here is a little definition that the kind folks of Google let me borrow:
A pantser is someone who, “flies by the seat of their pants,” meaning they don’t plan out anything, or plan very little.
Oh yeah, that’s me. I jump into a new story idea like the deep end of a swimming pool. There’s nothing wrong with this method of writing a novel, if you manage to actually FINISH writing it. However, I’m just chasing my tail at this point.
For some people pantsing their novel is the best way for them to finish their story, and that is FANTABULOUS. There are Pros and Cons to both methods, as listed beautifully on The Writer Practice. You should write your story how ever you need to get it done. Pantsing just wasn’t working for me.
Here’s a few quick reasons why:
- I was overwhelming myself. Like an unplanned trip to Disney World during the busiest time of year, with a goal to ride every single ride. It’s just not going to happen without some intricate planning on your part. You’ll wind up at the park with a sun burn in a two hour long line to ride It’s A Small World, totally and completely overwhelmed.
- My plot is intended to be intricate. I have some very necessary plot points that weave a delicate web…this was not going to happen by my jumping in full throttle and trying to write this thing from nothing.
- I pull from a lot of Folklore, which requires research. Research that I was haphazardly pulling from weird, inaccurate corners of the internet. Pantsing doesn’t click well with a high fantasy involving a steady foundation like the one I want to include.
Now, don’t get me wrong. These points can all be true for the story you’re writing, and you could pants it beautifully. Here’s the main reason I can’t pants anymore: I’m not a great writer.
Ha! Imagine that.
No, seriously. I can’t pants because I’m not all that skilled of a writer to do so. I’m unpublished and fairly inexperienced. I need to compensate for my lack of words under my belt, lack of life experience, and lack of knowledge of my craft. I need to plan to keep up with the fascinating minds that don’t. Some of you can write a story with a beautifully thought out plot and tie everything together at the end purely because of your patience and attention to detail. I don’t have that. So, I’m going to plot.
Almost like a person who is bad at math needs to go through extra steps to solve a complicated equation. I’m that person. I need to show my work, long division style, to write this novel the way I want.
Here’s my decision: September and October will be two blissful months of research and planning. I am going to read my ass off. I am going to fill a notebook with scratches of notes and challenge my ideas from different angles. Then, on November 1st, I will begin my novel for National Novel Writing Month 2015.
I know what you’re thinking: “Plot for TWO MONTHS? What? Are you crazy? That’s so excessive. Why would anyone want to do that? What if that huge gap in writing actually makes you overthink, overplot, and terminate your idea? You’re being ridiculous.”
Calm down. I know I’m being ridiculous. But this is the one angle I haven’t tried yet. I have never ever outlined a story. I’ve never done an excessive amount of research, or mapped out first and secondary characters. What if this is the way that works for me? I’ll never know unless I try.
Finally, goals for September:
- Read, read, read.
- Research European folklore and collect the bits that fit my story together in one place.
- Discover the purpose, motives, and structure of my plot.
- Discover characters and setting based heavily on what the plot needs to survive.
- Make a semi-coherent time line
This is super vague on purpose. I don’t want to lock myself in a cage, or restrict my imagination from going where it wants. These are guidelines to ensure I get stuff done. Outlining will probably be the very last thing I do. For September, I will collect the puzzle pieces, and in October I will place them in a pretty pattern. Sound good?
Let me know if you’re a plotter or a pantser in the comments section. Also feel free to let me know if this blog post was outrageously boring, and if you’d like me to put a stopper on any future similar posts.
You can also catch me on Twitter – @NicoleLautore