Friday, August 31, 2012

The Plantser

Hybrids are all the rage. I can only think of two other examples, cars and fiction writing careers, but I don’t know how many occurrences are required before something becomes a rage. Three it is!

In the eternal war between pantsers and plotters, I have been on the side of the pantsers. If you aren’t a writer and therefore haven’t ever seen the word “pantser” and are confused and angry (I can still barely contain my fury at the term), let me clarify. A pantser writes by the seat of his or her pants, I guess. They let the story go where it will, writing whatever comes to mind, in other words. This is how I’ve always written fiction.

A year ago (a year!), I explained how the cover of Pulling Teeth represents my writing style. I understand my story as I tell it. I only conceive of a story on a very shallow level before I write it.

This woman talks about pantsering always leading to flabby writing. She might have been talking about non-narrative nonfiction, although it seems obvious that you would need an outline to write that sort of work. Anyway, if she was also referring to fiction, I’m the individual who turns her into a liar (why 100%? Why not play it safe and say 99%?). I have to plan out divergences or my plot flies straight as a bullet and I end up with less than I need.

Anyway, in the process of writing The Hoard, I discovered a new style of writing: the pantser/plotter hybrid AKA THE PLANTSER! One of the major problems I’ve faced in my writing of longer pieces is that my process really bogs down during Act 2. I didn’t have the luxury of writing at my own pace with The Hoard. I’d promised the manuscript one a certain date. So when things slowed down after Act 1, I knew I had to flip the script.

My usual Act 2 writing style is to think of the next scene for the hour before I get out of bed. In that dreamy state, the scene pretty much writes itself. While this technique ensures that I never have writers block, I only get a few pages, and I needed to write more than a few pages a day on The Hoard to finish the book on time. So I started outlining.

Before the pantsers burn me at the stake, hear what I learned! It was easy to outline and stay true to the characters after I had fully discovered them during Act 1. Thus, a horrible chimera was born!

I don’t know a character before I write about them. I can’t fill out one of those character trait catalogs and come out with a realistic person. That occurs during the writing process. But it occurs early on during the writing process. Basically, it happens during act 1, which I’ve never had any problem writing.

So now I pantser Act 1, letting the characters come to life and letting the story take the shape it wants. Then I create an outline, though I will never be a slave to it. I will always allow for new surprises.

A side benefit of becoming a plantser is that I get to try Scrivener, which everyone has been talking about. It never seemed to offer an advantage for my style of writing, but now that I’m going to be outlining, I’d like a more efficient way to do it. I think Scrivener will help assure that I meet the word count requirements that DarkFuse has given me.

We’ll see how it goes, but from what I’ve already experienced, my productivity is about to go through the roof.

Anyway, if you want to try this technique, you only have to pay me a billion dollars. Hey, if Apple can do it...

No comments:

Post a Comment