Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Plotting or Pantster?

I've been told that in the writing world, there's two types of writers: "plotters" and "pantsters". There's people who make organized, neat outlines before they sit down to write, aka "plotters", and then there's people who just sit down at a word processing document and they just write, the "pantsters" as in, "flying by the seat of their pants". I've discovered I'm not either or, I'm both!

I love writing and of course, knowing what's the plot will be ahead of time helps a TON. And sometimes, you end up developing more deeper levels of characteristics on your world or your character's personality. You've got an idea, but getting from the beginning to the end is kind of difficult.

I've tried writing only the exciting parts and the endings, and trying to fill in the in-between, and that's a mess. I'll tell you why: when you try to fill in the blank spaces, you have to make it usable to the plot. And that's where I literally end up developing new layers and facets to characters that affect the scenes towards the end and then I have to alter the ending! I end up falling in love with these smaller characters and they end becoming bigger characters. And then I am stuck editing the later parts because of these changes when I try to write ahead.

So, recently, in the last two or three years or so, I've gone from complete pantster to semi-plotter. I have to plot out certain types of scenes, like climax, to make sure that I have an idea of what needs to happen next, what needs to be revealed, etc. Planning out scenes like this has made me value writing out what I want to do next. I've realized I can't meander through what I'm writing just to pad it with enough words to be considered a novel. That leads me to making a rough outline for the whole book.

I've used the Snowflake method (although it drives one of my best friends insane) and I downloaded Snowflake software to plot better. It's an older method of plotting and is somewhat outdated, but a lot of writers still use it. It creates an entire skeleton proposal with character outlines, multiple plot synopses of different lengths, and chapter outlines/bibles. As much as it helps me, I don't like the chapter outline part. Why? Because sometimes a part of the story you've plotted ends up being longer than you thought it would be and it has to cover two to three chapters. And then, you might discover holes in the plot! Then what? I usually fill the chapter information into the Snowflake software after I've finished the rough draft of the manuscript so it matches up.

Because of this, I have to write in a linear fashion: chapter by chapter in progression. Unlike Doctor Who, I can't jump around and write all "Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey", even with an outline:

While I love the Doctor, this is not me when I'm writing.

Plotting or Pantsting, which kind of writer are you?

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