Hi. My name is Barb and I’m a recovering pantser.
Yes, I admit it. At one time I insisted I couldn’t plot a novel in advance because it would kill the creative process. (My art! My art!) I needed to let the story breathe and live and do all those artistic things a story should do on its own. I was the penultimate pantser. Then a strange thing happened. I actually wrote an entire novel. Not the false starts I’d toyed with over the years–A real, honest to goodness, all the way to The End, novel.
About 200 pages in, the story completely derailed and my inner editor had a meltdown.
Talk about killing the creative process. In order to get back on track, I spent an entire week reorganizing scenes, unraveling tangled plot lines, and shredding subplots. I also took to cackling “Delete, delete, delete!” at random intervals. The sight of me with a stack of index cards and a Sharpie marker in hand was enough to send friends and family members alike running.
Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. No prettiness here.
That’s how I learned that the idea of writing a novel is very different from the process of writing a novel.
I don’t mean to suggest that writing a novel by the seat of your pants cannot be done. I’m simply saying I’m far too lazy to attempt it. I have a hard enough time getting through a draft to create one I know is going to need ten times more work in the end than it would if I just did a little advance planning.
For me, the Plotter vs. Pantser debate comes down to one simple question: Would I rather do some of the work up front, or tackle it all at the back end?
Do I plot out every detail? Of course not. At best, I map out a basic story arc and leave myself plenty of room for improvisation. Do my stories flow flawlessly? Of course not. The characters sometimes boycott the story, and the plots wander off course. Nor does plotting in advance mean I don’t have to revise and edit at the end. But my trusty map keeps me from creating more work than necessary.
What about you? Are you a pantser or a plotter?
- Plotters, Pantsers, Strategists, and Adventurers: Finding What Works (thedarkglobe.wordpress.com)
- Plotter or Pantser (susansheehey.wordpress.com)