15.5.12

No More Pantsing


Hi.

My name is Raven. And I am a Pantser. Nice to meet you!

There are a lot of Word docs saved on my computer. Most of them are pages of ideas that never lifted off the ground, others are 30k monsters that have no plot and no consistency whatsoever. This is what happens when you're a pantser. Now, maybe I'm not doing it right. Maybe there are other pantsers out there who have perfected the craft, who know how to write promising first drafts, but me on the other hand...whenever I don't plot or outline, I end up with novels that don't make any sense, novels that can't be fixed no matter how hard I try to sculpt them into greatness.

I have written three monsters that sit unfinished on my computer. They were all great concepts and they were all stories that I ADORED when I first thought of them, but then I realized, after spitting out over 20k that if I don't have any idea of how I'm going to end the story, if I don't know what the character wants or what they're willing to do to get what they want, then I have no plot.

Also, I like to think of first drafts as skeletons.

Though first drafts tend to suck, that doesn't mean that they aren't the foundation for something great. So in order to make a STRONG foundation you have to make sure that every piece is stable, that they'll be able to stand on their own once you write the second draft, the third draft, and however many drafts you need to make your novel the best it could possibly be.

That said...I can't seem to make myself outline. I tried it several times but it just doesn't stick. Every time I sit down to take notes, there's a voice inside my head that's telling me to just WRITE THE DAMN THING. No, really, there is.

And that's when I start writing, writing, writing, until I can't make heads or tails of the plot.

I can't do that with my current wip. I've talked about it a few times on here already, but from the few young adult high fantasy novels (Mistwood & Fire) that I've read, I know that fantasy is all about layers and worldbuilding. So...I kinda have to outline to make sure that my world won't fall through in the next draft. So, here's my question to the people out here who have outlined/plotted: How do you do it? What is your outlining/plotting process like?

I would really like to become one of those writers who goes in with a plan. I'm tired of not being able to finish a wip because I have no idea where it's going.

Thanks for reading! <3

5 comments:

  1. Don't worry! So many great stories start that way.

    I don't think there's one right way to do something like write a book, but as a fellow writer-who-can't-outline, I can share this: I never plan more than I need to, and none of my plans are absolute.

    I do tons of brainstorms-- they are good for generating ideas, but they are flexible enough not to limit me. No matter how much brainstorming I do, though, I have no idea what will *actually* happen in a given scene until I sit down to write the scene in question.
    My brother (who also writes) is a big fan of making a Boring/Interesting chart to help him through a difficult/challenging scene-- write down what's boring about it (or what is boring about scenes like it), and then write down what you could do to make it interesting instead. I've tried it, and it really works!

    Good luck!

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  2. *takes notes*

    Thanks a lot.

    And the chart sounds like a good idea. I feel like I struggle with making boring scenes interesting the most. So I will definitely try making a chart.

    It's also nice to meet someone who can't outline. I mean, I would really like to be that kind of writer, and I envy those who can craft good outlines, but I don't think I can completely shake my pantsing ways either.

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  3. Some writers are only able to keep writing through to the end of the story because they want to find out what happens next. Maybe that means the story takes some odd detours-- but those can be wonderful gifts (and the not-so-wonderful parts can all be taken care of during edits, if needed).

    Don't worry about doing it a certain way . . . writing is a personal experience as much as a craft. The things that come most naturally to you are your best resources.

    If you ever want to jumpstart a story that is stalling / having a plot-crisis, you can always ask someone to let you bounce ideas off of them. (That's what I do every time I get stuck! It always works, although sometimes in ways I don't expect!).

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  4. LOL, this is funny, because usually I have the opposite problem: I plot things to death. So I wind up with a lot of finished manuscripts that don't have the vitality they should.

    For my current wip I just started writing with only a vague idea of the conflict, and even though this got me great results as far as characterization goes, I had no idea how to to end the conflict! So now I'm spending a lot of time figuring that out. I even resorted to writing a synopsis, which helped a lot, actually. Maybe writing a brief synopsis (don't think of it as outlining!) will help you, Raven!

    Good luck!

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  5. Hopped over to your blog because I saw Kate Hart tweeting about you. :)

    What a coincidence that the first post I see is about the pitfalls of pantsing. I TOTALLY KNOW how you feel! I'm a pantser too, and this is my problem exactly. I take off with an idea and some characters without really figuring out the important nitty gritty. I'm slowly getting myself to outline or at least think things through more before I start, but it's hard! I'm never really sure what to do, and I get stuck all the time.

    I've found talking it out with a crit partner or trusted friend helps though! In any case, if you discover the formula, please share with the rest of your fellow pantsers!

    That aside, it's nice to meet you. :)

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