Plotters ask questions first. They outline, they plan, they process. Plotters have there, um, stuff together and know where they’re headed. They surround themselves with filled notebooks then write. Give or take a bit here and there.
Pantsers are the opposite. They write almost as if they’re the reader, just as surprised by characters’ antics. There is no plan, no outline, no idea where they’re headed. They just write and maybe ask questions later.
I’m finding that my difficulty with pantsing is that novels are huge, unwieldy things that are far more difficult to edit than were my collage essays.
The Holly Lisle* Flash Fiction program has you come up with lists of ideas to begin. Pretty cool, but I had a hard time writing from them. Turns out it’s the way my brain works. Once I’ve put it on paper, I’m done with it. It’s old and I’ve lost interest – time to move on to something new. But I can bang out an awesome little flash fiction piece in my pantser way.
The question was, How will I get better? How will I learn to organize better, make my stories tighter, if I don’t adopt some plotter techniques.
The answer came to me at random. (Yea! for my random brain.) I won’t totally bore you with the details, I’ll just say, in my youth, I began writing first and outlining after. (Shh, don’t tell Ms. Bell. She’ll flip.) Total pantser behavior.
Now it’s just a matter of reversing the plotter process. Write first, ask questions later. My next steps will be taking what I’ve learned and going over my stories. (Ugh! Yes, it means I have to go over what I’ve already done, put off the new and exciting, but I actually love my stories. My passion shows up in my pantsing as opposed to when I tried to plot.) (Hmm, that didn’t sound awkward at all)
Are you a pantser or a planner? Have you ever tried to do the opposite? How did it turn out?
*If you haven’t done it yet, check out Holly Lisle’s writing lessons. She has at least one free and it’s a great place to start. Also check your library’s online list of digital resources for access to Gale University for any writing classes by Steve Alcorn. They are in-depth for helping you work out why you write and what to write.