Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Fricassee

Okay.  I feel like I'm a pantser in recovery.

Here's what I'm learning as I press through this Very Massive Revision:  Having an outline allows me to PANTS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE OUTLINE WITHOUT GETTING OFF TRACK.

What a revelation!

I've always said I believe that pantsing is genetic.  I still believe that.  Because I took the time to work out plot kinks (really, that word is much too small for what they actually were), I am now able to breathe life into new scenes that MAKE SENSE.  Because...gasp...I know where I'm going.


So, yeah.  The organic writing that I love--and that I believe is part of the way I was designed--is very much alive and well in the context of a carefully conceived storyline.  That's not to say the storyline won't undergo some changes as I write (I'm on chapter 8).  Despite the hard (hard! hard!) work, it can't possibly be perfect.


But it's so reassuring to have everything planned.  (Well, not EVERYTHING.  You know what I mean.)  Planned, yet with the delicious openness that allows me to write entire scenes that never crossed my mind during the plotting process.

So yay!  For those of you who tend to break into hives at the thought of outlining a plot, I'm here to tell's not that bad after all!  Of course, I didn't plot from scratch.  This was a story already written, and I was deconstructing a storyline in an already-built world with already-developed characters.

That's a tad easier, in my opinion, than starting from scratch.

Though, I've done that, too.  An entire dystopian tale is waiting, in sloppy-outline form, to be written.  I'll let you know how that goes (some day!).

Who knew?

There's your encouragement for the weekend.  Writing is SUCH an ongoing process.  And it never ceases to be exhilarating!

Well.  Sometimes it's exhausting.  But still.

Anyway, my hubby's out of town for the weekend so I'm planning on burning through LOTS of this novel over the next 48 hours.  Hope your weekend is full of sparkle, too!


  1. I'll be writing with you in spirit as my hubby is in a two-day golf tourney -- leaving me loads of time to write ALL WEEKEND.

    My first two books were written by pantsing. My WIP definitely needs an outline. But I like your idea of pantsing within the outline!


  2. I think that's exactly my process! But I always thought I was just a plotter, since I need to have a scene goal before I start writing.

    Good to know that there are many levels in between! I doubt anyone is completely one or the other, plotter or pantser!

    PS, I love this community for this reason, using words like pantsing, and having everyone know precisely what you mean. :)

  3. I've long maintained the existence of the pantser/plotter hybrid :) I usually need to start out pantsing to get an idea of the world I'm setting my story in, the characters, and the very basic story. Then, once I have a decent (I'm not even claiming "good" here) handle on these aspects, I plot out a rough outline as I seem to work much better when I have at least a rough idea as to the route I want to take to my destination.

  4. So glad to hear there is a plotting future for us pantsters. I can't seem to come up with a plot line efficiently; I have to follow my characters wherever they lead, even if I already know they are taking me down a dead end.
    Like you, I've been trying to get better about plotting, and the big picture options offered by Scrivener have really helped. A work in progress, for sure!

  5. I'm gearing up for a plotting workshop in September, where I'm planning to plot out my second novel. I did the first as a pantser and swore I'd never do that again. It required too many rewrites to smooth out kinks, and yeah, kinks was a euphemism!

  6. I am terrible at outlining. Plot I have in my head, outlining, if I do it, kills my story. I'm glad it's working for you!

  7. Id like to invite you folks to come to Amish Stories for a recipe for "Famous Pennsylvania Dutch Sticky Cinnamon Buns" along with a book signing schedule for Amish fiction writer Wanda Brunstetter for Pennsylvania and Ohio as well as a contest to meet her. I hope everyone so far is having a great weekend. Thanks everyone. Richard from Amish Stories.

  8. What most people don't know is that we are all pantsers at the core. You have to learn to be a plotter. Some people just need more of a safety net, so they learn to do it sooner than others.

    And in then end, you have to do both jobs. Some people get better at doing the big picture plotting just in their heads. Some have to write it down.

  9. I identify with this post so much! I, too, am a "recovering pantser" - or, more accurately, a panster-within-a-plotter!

    I'm writing my first historical mystery (after pantsing my way through my first histfic MS) and am discovering that an outline is hugely liberating and doesn't actually conflict with the pantsing elements. In some ways, it's even better because things don't get far off course!

    Congratulations on reaching a good place in your writing. Keep at it, we all can't wait to read your work.