Friday, May 10, 2019

Plotter, Pantser or Something in Between? #MFRWAuthor #writingprocess

Blogging is an opportunity for authors to connect with readers. Despite being writers, blogging is an entirely different style of writing and often stumps us. To help our authors blog consistently, thoughtfully and with purpose, Marketing for Romance Writers is announcing the 2019 Blog Challenge. Each week, authors use our writing prompt to create a meaningful blog post. We'll be posting every Friday... join us as often as possible.

Week 19"Plotter or Pantzer, and why?"

Let's get some terminology out of the way:

Plotter - a writer who writes a detailed outline or synopsis before writing the story; one who plans out what will happen in the story before actually writing the story 
Pantser/Pantster/Pantzer - a writer who makes no preparations before beginning to write the story; one who writes by the seat of his/her pants 

Okay, I'll admit it. I would love to be a plotter. Those writers seem to have the knack for working out the kinks before they even begin to write the story! To plot out the entire story (and even series!) is something I admire and wish I could do. It feels like it would make the whole writing process faster and I would love to write faster to produce more books. I have so many stories to tell!

However, my brain doesn't work like that.

I began my writing life as a pantser. Well, at least, that's what I thought anyway, back when I was just learning about the differences between plotters and pantsers.

I never worked from an outline. I never had chapters organized or thought out in detail.

I wrote straight from the seat of my pants.

As I matured as a writer, I realized, that wasn't necessarily true either.

I did have a sort of framework that I worked from, even if it was strictly inside my imagination. You see, many of my stories originate from dreams. There's typically a seed or kernel of an idea planted in my dreams and they blossom during the next day as I think and think and think about it.

Since I was a kid, I've been writing my dreams into notebooks that I dub, Dream Journals. From those images that come to me at night, I've discovered several that have stories in them, whether there are characters, plots, scenes or just vague images that lead to something more.

In the morning, I write everything that happened in my dream and while doing this, more ideas blossom in my brain and I write those down, too. Soon, I have the workings of a story.

And that's pretty much how I begin each of my stories, whether it's from a dream or an idea that popped into my brain. I write down everything that I know. Everything about the characters, the setting, the plot, everything that my brain has already figured out for me.

Then I'll start writing. I'll take what I have and connect the pieces as I go. Like a complicated puzzle of writing material. Sometimes, the beginning is already pieced together for me, but the end is a mysterious fog. Sometimes, I have no idea what happens at the beginning, but I definitely know what happens at the end. Either way, I'll write and write until I figure it out.

So, in some ways, I have a rough outline that's more or less pieces of a puzzle. While I'm writing, I'm pantsing them together.

Does that make sense?

I think there are more writers than we know who are probably a combination of both pantser and plotter. I think I've heard them called Plantsers. You have some pieces of the story figured out, whether its just in your head or you wrote that information down. It's there, hovering in your brain, ready to be spilled out onto the page.

Then you just have to write the story, putting the pieces together in a way that makes sense for the reader.

Whatever method works for you, go for it. As long as you're enjoying the ride. For me, writing is sometimes a complicated mess, but I absolutely love it! I love discovering what happens next to these characters who I've come to love.

Until next time...

Happy Writing!

Be sure to visit the posts for the MFRW's Blog Challenge!

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  1. Great Post. I love all the visuals. I write a lot like you. I did start out with the great detailed plots and series bibles, then went to straight panting for Nano ( I found this isn't for me)

    1. You make an excellent point, Cathy. Writers should experiment with both methods to see what works best for them. That's how I found myself working between the two. Using a little of both worlds. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. I never heard the term "plantser" until this blog hop. I did see a label for the writer who occupies that middle ground between plotter and pantser: "puzzler." I like that term better than "plantser."

    1. Oh, I like puzzler better, too! I never heard of that term for a writer. Thank you! I never liked plantser either. Makes me think of gardening instead of writing. lol

  3. I completely agree. As long as you enjoy the process and the story gets written, use whatever method works for you.