PLOTTING VS PANTSING
Hullo, All, and welcome!
I used to think I was doing it wrong. That someday I’d have to buckle down and actually plot out my stories. And I suppose I could pull it off. But I also suppose my stories would suffer for it. caveat: I am not maligning the die-hard plotter and planner types; indeed, my hat’s off to you. but that hat just don’t fit me.
From the design perspective, however, some great degree of planning has to go into the process. I mean, as a designer, you have to know at least what you are designing, whether residential or commercial. That’s a biggie. Relating this to the writing world, there is fiction and non-fiction.
In designing a home, things like how many bedrooms and bathrooms and square footage are essential to the end result. But the layout possibilities are endless.
So many guidelines set forth number of chapters, and number of scenes, and final word count even. When I wrote Tessa, however, I had NO.IDEA how many chapters I’d end up with, let alone how many words. I just wrote until she was done; I turned the spigot of words on, and one day, the story ended and the spigot turned off. My hands hovered over the keyboard where they had been, but there were no more words flowing.
For Team Plot and Plan, the structure (evidently) releases their inner Muse. There are programs to aid in this process (which shall remain nameless for the purpose of this post.) Using this method, the last chapter can be written first and vice versa. Because every plot point has been, well, plotted out.
In design, that would equate to placing the doors and windows before the walls are drawn.
Doesn’t work for this brain. Case in point. In my current WIP, I went back to add more material, beef up the story (it was looking pretty sparse.) Problem was, I knew about the fire already and I was getting the timeline mixed up. I kept trying to reference things that hadn’t happened yet.
To an extent, in writing anyway, one method is not better than the other. In both writing and in design, the overall project needs at least some degree of definition. With Tessa I knew that she and her mother would reconcile in the end. How that would happen, I had no clue. Until it did.
Designing a house, or corporate office, sometimes the end result is as much a surprise, too. I have copious amounts of notes, both in writing and for design projects. Not the same as planning, more like planning in reverse…
And there is much tweaking and finagling to get the lay out just right. I mean, who really wants the bathroom right next to the kitchen? Or the bedroom next to the family room? (Space planning is one of my favorite elements of design by the way.)
I believe we writers are all hybrids, to whatever degree. I’m high on the pantser scale, while others are 90% plotters, and every range in between.
As I said at the beginning, I used to think I was doing it wrong. As I have grown in my craft, and expanded my circle of writer friends, I have discovered I am not alone after all. My friend Mark David Gerson, says it quite well.
So which are you? Team Plotter or Team Pantser? How much of your story do you know ahead of time and how much does intuition contribute?
Oh! and Happy Friday the 13th!!
“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”
Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas. Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity for many years. Her characters face many of these same demons.
Ms. Mason has lived in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She lived in Colorado for sixteen years, during which time she: went to high school, got married, had babies, got divorced and went to college. Her “babies” are now grown, two have babies of their own. She currently lives alone, with her five cats.
Ms. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.
Tessa and Clara Bess, books 1 and 2 in her unsavory heritage series, are both available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. The third book in the series, Cissy, will be available in September, 2016. Ms. Mason also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, http://maryblowers.com, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal anthology of poetry to be released in 2016 as well.
Plotting VS Pantsing, Stories by Design, Planning, Plotting, Pantser, Plantzer, Creative Flow, Intution, Mark David Gerson