Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pantser vs Plotter

First a definition of what the two mean to me:

Panster – one who writes by the seat of their pants. Their stories start with an enticing incident, set of characters or maybe just a location. Then the writer writes and discovers the plot along the way. A Panstser enjoys the thrill of the chase, the adventure and excitement of watching the story evolve before their eyes. I get excited just thinking about this one!

Plotter– the organized writer. One who has an outline, detailed character sketch, has done their research and knows where their story is going. They focus on structure, planning and details.

Some may say being a pantser leads to frequent writer’s block or unnecessary ramblings as they try to figure out which way to take their story. I say, not for me. I’ve tried several times over the years to outline and plot. This has led me into the perilous pit of writer’s block every single time. I feel trapped inside a box and my muse refuses to work under these conditions.
Like all creative processes, there is no one right way to write. Experimenting is the best thing to do to see which way works best for you. I even have writer friends who combine the two. A little pantsing here and a little plotting there is the key that opens the creative vault for them.

  A few secrets I've unlocked for those times when the writing becomes a struggle:

* Walk away for awhile.  A break, days or even weeks, can be the perfect solution to stir up those creative juices again.

*Write out a scene in long hand. That's right, using a pen or pencil and plain old paper can work wonders.

*Met up with other writers for some fun brainstorming. (my favorite!)

Okay, break time over! Now back to my own WIP. I’m dying to find out if the Nanny is hiding something. Is she working with the bad guys or has fate just dealt her a poor hand. 

This is where I left off in the last scene:

           “Well, Miss Cooper, I think you’ve answered all my questions for now. It’s been nice talking with you.” He stood, extending his hand to her. “I’ll be in touch within the next two days. I don’t foresee any problems, but I must check references. You understand.”
Of course,” she said, laying the folder on the coffee table in front of them next to the untouched food, he’d offered and she’d declined. “I would think less of you if you didn’t. Children are our most precious gifts.” She met him eye-to-eye and smiled. “We must protect them.” An eerie distant longing flickered in the depths of her dark eyes.
Odd, he thought. Not only her reaction, but the color of her eyes at that moment. Darker now in the sunlight filtering through the blinds. He’d never seen this shade of brown before and it had him wondering about her heritage. Not that it mattered or something he felt appropriate to ask about now that the interview was over, but he wanted to know. People’s origins had always fascinated him.  He made a mental note to find out where she’d inherited these unusual eyes.
“I’ll check your references and get back with you,” he said, nodding down at the folder. “Thanks again for your time.” He led her back to the front door wondering why she hadn’t asked anymore questions of her own. Like how many children she would be responsible for or what sex they were. He filed it away under to-be-dealt-with-later. The last thing he wanted was to ruin this moment of excitement over possibly finding the perfect Nanny for Stephanie.


Anonymous said...

I'm a pantser too. Every time I try to outline or draw a map, it's really me procrastinating because I never follow it! Although, this time around I drew a ma of turning points to start editing and it helped me see weak areas and areas that need expanding. Nice post!

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh, the age old question for writers...
I'm obviously a pantster and , like you, I get paralyzed when I try to post note it out on a big board and check to see if I'm arcing on schedule. I wish I could plot out the whole book on sticky notes and have the perfect timing that changes with every third of the book- after all that's what the experts tell us!
It would be so easy to sit down and just write what I plotted, but the magic, for me, would be gone. I love discovering shocking things about my characters! Who knew that my second in command bad guy would also be a doctor and ultimately out evil the original bad guy?!?!?!? Ha!
I say what ever brings you the joy in writing is how you should approach your novel. There's always time to "fix" the story later.

William Simon said...

I try to outline, I really do. I say 'try' because no matter what the Original Plan is, the finished product always ends up being far far different from the original concept.

So, I guess I am a 'Plotanster'...:)

Marie said...

This is a great blog, Melissa.
When I sit down to write I am reminded of the phrase."A funny thing happened on the way to my story..My head is full of ideas. Some of them are even pretty good. The trick for me, is to harness the ideas and make them attractive to others. I like your novel preview. It looks great.

Melissa said...

crisgzr - Procrastination is one thing I've got down to a science! LOL Thanks for stopping and by and Best of Luck on your WIP! :)

Melissa said...

Hey, Stacey! I agree, the magic would be gone and it's the part I love the best! :) Out evil the bad guy?!! Now that sounds like a great story twist!

Melissa said...

William! I love your new word! Must borrow it! :) Plotanster. LOL For some reason I'm picturing a some kind of mob boss. LOL

Melissa said...

Thanks so much, Marie! I know what you mean. Sure wish there was an easy way to harness those ideas and tie them up nice and neat in their own little perfect story box. LOL

Mel Chesley said...

I used to be a pantser, but now I have so much information to keep track of, I've had to combine plotting and pantsing. :D Good post!

Melissa said...

Thanks, Mel! I'm not sure I'm as much of a panster as I used to be when I first started. LOL I know this because I use a lot more sticky notes now. :) So hoping the Scrivener workshop I signed up for in February will be the key to help get my pantser self a tad bit more orgainzed. If that is possible!