Monday, June 2, 2008

To Plot or To Pants, That is the Question!

Ahhh, the age old question of writers. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Well, I have tried both methods and I have come to realize that I’m a plotter. I’ll pause a moment to let you get over the shock of it….

Okay, ready? LOL, just kidding. I’m actually jealous of pantsers! I wish I could do what you do.

Well, here’s the scoop. I have so many unfinished novels that I can‘t even count them all. I wrote them by pantsing and failed miserably every time. I’d get about thirty pages into the book and it would all fall apart. No matter what I tried, I could never finish it. I was devastated. I thought I would never finish a story and I just about gave up completely.

Then, one day, I decided to try to plot out my story. I sat down and figured out what I wanted to happen. I didn’t put in a lot of details, but figured out what each scene would be about. Only one sentence for each scene. Just a general idea of my plans. Once I finished my scene plan, as I call it, I started writing. Every day, I wrote more and more of the story, passing the dreaded page thirty. Thirty-five, forty, forty-five. I kept going. Shock and awe filled me as I typed the last word. I actually finished!

I’d never been so thrilled in my life. It was so great to finish something that I’d started writing for the first time ever. Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I wasn’t able to write for a good while after that. I never went back and revised that story. Looking back at it now, I’m amazed at how bad it really is. It has so many problems, I’m not sure I could ever fix it, but I don’t care, it’s done and that’s the main thing.

I’ve written two more stories since then, and I’m now working on my third, which I’m about halfway through with. As long as I plot it out before hand, I can finish it. If I try writing by the seat of my pants, well, the results are complete failure.

So, that’s my story. I’d love to hear what you think. Are you a pantser or a plotter? Tell me how you write your stories. How do you plan them out? I can’t wait to hear how everyone else works, maybe it will help me improve my writing. Looking forward to hearing from you.

5 deadly screams:

Gracen Miller said...

As we know, I'm a pantser. I wish I could plot, but I get bogged down in the plotting, frustration reigns over me and the story dies a horrible death.

It is exciting when you finally finish your first book. Like you I have several stories that I've started and stopped. They're so horrible I could never revamp them to even sound half-way decent. BUT I think those are the stories that prepare you and equip you with was is necessary to really start writing seriously. I mean isn't the first part of writing acutally finishing?

Like you, too, I wrote two novels (never had either of them published) and quit writing for a long while because of family, children and career. I was exhausted by the time I had spare moments to write and couldn't focus my words to create anything coherent. So, I picked up the pen (or rather keyboard) about five years ago and got back to it. Looking back, I think I needed this time to study the craft of writing. (In all my hiatus years, I always studied how authors wrote their story). My writing now is so much different than before. It's better. Maybe not great, but at least better.

Molly Daniels said...

I've done both. In my Arbor U series, I had a vague idea of how the story was supposed to go, and had a general 'outline' to follow. Sometimes I followed it; sometimes the story would wander off for a while before returning. But I wrote 3 books this past year off the top of my head; nothing more than following what the characters were dictating in my head.

Which way is better? Don't really know. If what is coming off the top of the head is coherent, run with it. If you get bogged down, you can always make an outline!

Sierra Wolfe said...

LOL Gracen. It's funny how similar we are in some ways, and so different in others. All I can tell you is those 5 years worked wonders for you then, because I think you are an amazing writer.

Molly, thanks for sharing your writing style. I love to hear how other authors work. You're right, if you start to pants and have problems, you could always create an outline to help.

Thanks to you both for your comments. I appreciate it.

Darlene said...

I prefer Nora Roberts' more elegant term "organic writer" over "pantser".[g] But I am one. I tried to plot out a book once. Realized that a month later I was still plotting, not writing, and said "screw it". I have no doubt plotting's more efficient, but it doesn't work for me.

Sierra Wolfe said...

LOL Darlene, I like that term. I've never heard it before :) I don't blame you, I'd have quit plotting too if I was still doing it a month later. I'm so jealous. I wish I could write "organically". Thanks for the comment!