Going With Your Gut (Or TRA LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING TO YOU PLOTTERS!)

I tried planning.  I really did! I had an entire story in my head, with each moment just waiting to be written.  I did research into things that needed researching.  My characters had names, detailed histories and exciting futures.  I started writing...

...And stopped because it was so frustrating.

Oh, how I wish I could be the kind of person who uses detailed spreadsheets and covers her walls with elaborate post-its outlining scenes and events and everything inbetween before I even start writing a story.

But I can't.  Every time I make my life easy by having the actual story plotted in my head, I never write it.

You plotters are a super talented bunch.  I read your blogs in complete admiration for your research, your notes and yeah, your spreadsheets too.  I try and force myself to do the same, but it's absolutely no good.  I know some people think it makes for a poor book, but I love to make stories up as I go along.  I find it thrilling to do so, to challenge myself and follow whatever my imagination comes up with. 

Pantsing is my way of writing, and forcing myself to do it another way feels a lot like this:

Brushing my hair is still kinda like this
 
Yesterday I started writing a new story, with no idea of where it's going or what's going to happen.  And you know what?

It's working!

My main character doesn't have a name yet, but she's very chatty.  This story is also coming out in first person present, which is something I've never written before.  I'm a huuuuuuuge fan of third person perspective, but this story just told me this is the way it has to be - and who am I to argue?

I'm going to enjoy pantsing, stop feeling guilty about not being like plotters with their chapter-by-chapter outlines, and see where this new story takes me.

...and hopefully name the MC, although she's doing all right so far.

Comments

  1. This past NaNo was the closest I have come to pantsing a novel... and I really enjoyed it. I had an idea of what needed to happen, but my outline consisted of a few pages of ideas of what could happen in the first eight or nine chapters. Then I got to a certain point in the novel and I just left my notebook behind. I started writing the story the way it was coming out. And it seemed to work just fine. As you know, I exceeded the word count for NaNo, finished the novel, and am ready to revise.

    At the beginning of the year, I re-read Stephen King's ON WRITING. He comes down hard on plots. "Life isn't plotted," is his basic thesis. He likens the novel to an artifact hidden in the dirt that you, the writer, are slowly and carefully uncovering. The story is what it is--your job as a writer is to find out what it is. I must say, I think I'm leaning more toward this approach to my fiction, such that I might totally pants my next novel. Perhaps have a basic premise, and an idea of a middle, and maybe an end. But aside from that, fire up Word and see what happens. :)

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    1. It's definitely fun to go with the flow!

      Firing up Word and seeing what comes out is basically how I'm writing this current MS. I'm not very far into it yet, but so far so good!

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  2. The important thing is writing in a way that works for you, not for someone else.

    I've tried plotting, but my characters always take over and lead the story in a different direction anyway. So, for me, plotting is a waste of time.

    I find it so exciting going on the journey with the character, discovering everything as they do. Unfortunately, this mean I find editing an absolute chore.

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    1. Exactly. I *know* I'm a pantser but it's important to give another way a try. I have now proved beyond a doubt plotting does not work for me.

      You're right, editing is a right pain in the bum but at least I've got a story!

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  3. Hahaha - love your title. I totally agree! I'm mostly a pantser, and I definitely enjoy it.

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  4. I was a pantser this NaNo. I had an idea of who the characters were and what I wanted to happen but I just let it flow this time. There are definitely perks to just going with it. I can imagine all the wasted paper I'd have if I made a detailed plot and it went in a totally different direction.

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    1. Definitely perks. It's a good imagination work out to come up with everything as you go along ^^;

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  5. That's awesome that you found out what worked for you! If it makes you feel any better, I started being an elaborate plotter, but I wish that I could just pants my way through a story and throw up fiction gold. ;) The grass is always greener on the other side, I guess. Good luck writing!

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    1. I'm not sure I'm throwing up fiction gold, but I'm writing rather than getting bored :P

      Good luck to you too!

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  6. I have always found plotting to be more work than help. I am all for knowing where you are going, once you get started, but I believe you have to let things develop naturally. This works for me. I know there are people who it does not work for, and I am in full support of however they need to process.

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    1. I'd never tell anyone plotting is a silly way to go, but no matter how hard I try, I can never make it work for me.

      Writing is such a personal thing. It's great to learn how other people do it, but each of us has our own unique method.

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  7. You know, it's funny you say that people believe pantsing makes for a bad book because in the more literary, MFA world it's completely the opposite. They're all against plotting and knowing the end before hand and opting for character-driven stories. But honestly? There's no wrong way to write. As long as it's the way that's true for you and true to the story, then it's absolutely right. Best of luck!

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  8. I mean they opt for character-driven stories. They're not against it at all. I should proofread before hitting publish. :)

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    1. lol! No worries ;)

      Wish I could study writing like that though :)

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