Plotting: What Am I?

When I wrote my first manuscript and short stories, I was what’s known as a ‘pantser’.  I didn’t know what a ‘pantser’ was, until someone in my writing group defined the term for me as someone who writes by the seat of their pants.  In other words, they write the story that comes to them in the moment; and they don’t know what happens until the words show up on paper.   Many famous authors are known as ‘pantsers’, but I don’t want to mention any names.  Not because it’s a bad thing to be a pantser (because it’s not!!!!), only because I can’t remember any of the names of famous authors that they told me about. 
The opposite of the pantser is the ‘outliner’; someone who plots out the story in outline from beginning to end before the first word it put to paper.  Many famous authors are known as ‘outliners’, but I don’t want to mention their names either, because it wouldn’t be fair to the pantsers. 
I used to feel superior in being a pantser because I thought that pansters were more creative.   They let the story lead the author to wherever it needed to go.  However, none of my pantser fiction has led me anywhere near an agent, editor or publisher.   With my second manuscript (which I started over twice before I finally got it right), I used a scene template and outline and the thing practically wrote itself.  When I was done I saw that the writing was better than any I’d done before. But I attributed that to the fact that I had more experience whilst I was writing it. 
When I started in on my Destiny manuscript (the one I’m working on now), I fully planned to have the whole outline done before I started writing.   After writing some 240,000 words on the Fate novel (and ending up with only 75,000 in the actual manuscript), I figured that the outline would save me a ton of time and energy, right?
The problem is that when the muse screams, you have to write.  Have to.  So I’m writing the durn Destiny story without a full outline.  Oh, I know the details of Part I, and I’ve fleshed out the main and subplots, but I don’t know exactly how all the disasters will work out.  Every day, I’m in the throes of the story, and can’t wait to get those words on paper.  I don’t care anymore if I write 250,000 words to get 90,000 words any more.  I’ve got to get started; I’ve got to write while the muse is with me.  I guess I’m a pant-liner. 
This entry was posted in muse, outliner, pantser, urban fantasy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Plotting: What Am I?

  1. What? You’re a pantyliner? 🙂 I always start with an outline, even just a simple one. But I inevitably deviate from it as I actually write. Part of that is attributed to instinct and part to realizing new connections as I write.

    But I need the structure of an outline to start and I like to know where it’s all heading. So I usually know how the novel ends it’s just a matter of how to get there.

  2. hah, panty liner, now I better understand the hilarity of the spec-fic group the other night (I’m that new guy).

    Good blog, enjoying it.

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