Monday, April 29

Plotting vs. Pantsing

I admit it, I'm a pantster (as in, I write stories by the seat of my pants with little or no plan as to what I'm going to do when I start).
But lately that's been proving problematic. Case in point, the story I'm supposed to be wrapping up this week. Suddenly, I can't remember what happens next. I can't even remember how I want it to end (beyond the obvious).
So I've started plotting. Not every little detail, just general situations, notes about scenes I'd had in my head at one point or another. I'm writing them all down on index cards so I can rearrange them as necessary and see how they work. I still want the story to be fluid, but I find that if I want to keep my deadlines, I need some idea of where the bleep I'm going.
It's a new experience. The times I've tried to outline before, my characters have gone left instead of right, or worse, by the time the outline was done, I was totally bored and didn't want to write the story. I'm hoping this idea of index cards will help keep things both fluid and flowing.
What about you, do you plot out in meticulous detail or do you fly by the seat of your pants or do something in between? What are the pros and cons of each?
I'll be reporting back in a month or two about how my new "plot decive" (sorry, couldn't resist!) is working.


Anonymous said...

You must let me know how you get on. It's a subject I was planning to blog on as well in the near future so I'm always interested too in how others do it.

I tend to do a bit of a mix. These days I plot more than I 'pants' but in saying that my characters think an outline is something you make rude gestures towards. In my last book the main protagonist wasn't even in the outline - he just showed up and did his thing.

Unknown said...

I generally have some kind of outline, even if it's just a list of scenes. This current story I'm working on, I'm just pantsing, but I may not be able to keep that up much longer. I'm starting to wonder where I'm going.

elizabeth noble said...

I'm a plotter. Now that being said my outlines are very loose. I usually have a few key things I want to happen and a few scenes I want included. Those things are set in stone before I write word one of a book. Where in the book (or series) they occur and the events surrounding them or causing them may change but these few things never, ever change. I'll rewrite a book to make them work. And have.

I use One Note. All my thoughts, plot points, scenes, character names, EVERYTHING goes in there otherwise I'll forget what comes next and honestly I'm too darn lazy to think it up all over again. I think if that my One Note was a paper notebook it'd be about three feet tall at this point.

I'll also write up what I call an overview, it's sort of like a synopsis of what is going to happen. It will include my must have things along with the filler stuff in between.

Some of my required scenes are sometimes very important and sometimes minor, but I know what they are and they are in each and every story I've ever written, no matter what I was writing them for.

I have that collection of Writer's Digest things

Elizabeth Noble

H.B. Pattskyn said...

I think we all have that collection of Writers Digest stuff ;-) It's just so easy to buy one more book!

C. Kennedy said...

While I may plot a brief outline (a la Fessenden), I am a panster of the first order. Plot and character are not entirely separate elements to me. Plot grows out of character. Sometimes one starts with a good plot, but unless it can be fleshed out with three-dimensional people it is a wasted plot. Thanks for the great post!

Tali Spencer said...

I'm not either, or maybe a little of both. I don't start out plotting. I start out following a character until they meet another character, and they navigate from there. But at some point, usually midway, I may plot out a few key scenes that will take me to the end. I write rough outlines of those scenes at the end of the manuscript and then when I write the "show" version of the scene, I delete the "tell" version.

I probably should use One Note or something, but I'm antiquated.

H.B. Pattskyn said...

I'm pretty antiquated too, Tali. I'm using index cards. I might give One Note a try, though.