Friday, October 16, 2015

The Woeful Tale of a Pantser-Turned-Plotter

If you've listened to our Writing Processes episode (which came out what feels like forever ago), you know that I'm more or less a pantser, in that I'm most comfortable writing "by the seat of my pants." What you might not know is that a I'm also notorious in my critique group for not finishing anything beyond a few short stories. Just to give you some perspective on that: we've been critiquing together for four years and they haven't read a single longer finished piece from me.

Obviously, this is a problem. How can I possibly expect to be a writer if I don't finish the things I'm working on? So over the last year or so, in between writing short stories, I tried to turn myself into a planner. I wrote a full outline for one story and a relatively detailed synopsis for another. I convinced myself it was a great feeling knowing where the story was going to go and that I could still change it if something felt wrong while I was writing it.

Neither of those stories went very far. I'm not entirely certain if it was the time spent on planning or taking pages to critique too early, but I lost interest in/got frustrated with both of them very early on. But I was still convinced I needed to try something else, since I haven't finished anything.

Last month, I gave up on planning for now and went back to pure pantsing for a new story I'm working on. I'm not entirely certain how long it's going to be, or what the actual central conflict is, or how any of my worldbuilding is going to come together into a coherent piece. But that's okay. That's what a shitty first draft is for, right? All of those things (and, you know, the tone and voice) can and will get ironed out once I have a better feel for the story I'm actually telling here.

And, you know what? I'm actually having fun writing again. That's the important part.


As of this blog, Emily is 6,000 words into her new story, which is further than she's gotten on something longer than a short story in over a year. She's quite proud of this fact, even if all of those words are total rubbish. At least they're words on the page.

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