Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pantser vs Plotter

With every profession, hobby, or sport, there are specific words, a teacher would say vocabulary words, that apply to only that field. Writing is the same. Pantser and Plotter are two such words in the writing/author world.
A 'pantser' writes by the
seat of their pants!

A pantser is a writer who “writes by the seat of their pants.” These writers have vague or miminal outlines for their project. Panters don’t know where their story is going or how it will play out until they write it. Plotters, on the other hand, are writers who plan and decide- actually outline- how the story will develop and come out before they ever start writing. When I first heard these words and their definitions I was sooo relieved!  Why? Because I’m a pantser writer and I thought I was “doing it wrong." I get an idea about a story and I start writing.

Think, Think, Think, How do I make
the pieces all fit?

Here’s what I mean: My novel, (that I’m trying to find an agent for) The Ink of Time, started out as an idea: A tattoo artist whose tattoos do something “otherworldly.” I didn’t know what at the time, but through lots of brainstorming I figured out that his tattoos make him briefly travel to another place or time. So what? Well, I had to figure out why his ability to time travel through tattoos was important. Much more brainstorming ensued. I came to the conclusion that he was helping solve a mystery. What was the mystery? See???? This is a crazy way to write, but that’s how I do it.  I had no idea where the story would go as I was writing. Eventually, as the story grew, I was able to visualize how the story would progress and end, but at the beginning? No way.

Even the title changed, with the help of my friend and beta reader (another writer vocabulary word), Bekah. I was using the title Tattoo Man and she suggested In the Ink of Time, which I condensed to The Ink of Time.

A 'plotter' creates an outline
from start to finish.
Then, last week, I had the opportunity to go to a workshop presented by Gary W. Moore, author of Playing with the Enemy as well as Hey Buddy (Buddy Holly), and soon-to-be released, The Final Service. Gary Moore’s workshop was called How to Finish that Book You’re Writing. I went because, even though I’ve finished one novel, I have another one that I’m stuck on. I thought he might offer some insights that would help me get and keep my project moving along.

Gary W. Moore is not  a pantser. He’s a plotter. So I listened carefully and took notes. His plan was straight forward and easy to follow. I came home and put his advice to work.  It was and is hard for me to plan out a story. I’m still not finished with my outline, even though I keep writing the story.  I think the best I can do is a combination of pantser and plotter.  A pantster, if you will.

What advice/ideas have you gotten from others recently? Are you listening to their ideas and taking action? It’s a good thing to do. As the saying goes, “Two minds are better than one.” See if you can expand you thinking today.

Until next time.

Be Good to Yourself,

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