Tuesday, June 10, 2008

They don’t call it Sisterhood of the Traveling Plots, do they?

Can you tell I’m a pantser?

I imagine it’s pretty obvious to other writers that I’m not one of those organized, type A personalities. I don’t have a loose leaf binder sectioned off with areas for each of my WIPs. I don’t keep a file full of ‘character interviews.’ I don’t have a spreadsheet of character names or multicolored time lines mapped out in Excel.

The bulletin board above my desk isn’t full of coordinated note cards that track my primary plot, secondary plot, tertiary story arc, black moment and levels of sexual tension.

Sometimes I don’t even know how my story is going to end.

I should really get a t-shirt that says, “Unapologetic Pantser” on it. Not that I’ve ever had to apologize for not being a Plotter, but sometimes I must admit, it makes me feel a bit inadequate when I compare myself to those other writers who can tell you exactly what conversation their characters will be having on page 117, or who post their word counts religiously with an ending number and say things like – "Only 6724 words to go!! I'll be done by 4 o'clock on Tuesday!"

How do they know? I envy them their organizational skills and the single-minded determination with which they approach their writing. It’s a science for them and I admire that.

I approach writing more as an art form – not to say that science is bad. It’s efficient and it has predictable results. Art is messy. Sometimes you don’t get what you started out looking for and occasionally the results are better left in a heap under the bed than displayed on the wall. But the process is usually always fun. I find knowing too much about my story before I start writing it tends to take some of the fun away.

I like that sense of adventure – in fact, I demand it. I wouldn’t want to read a book if I already knew the ending – I don’t want to write one either. I’ll admit, sometimes I have a clue where things are going, but just a clue. I never know exactly where I’ll end up, and I like it that way.

I prefer to be surprised by the conversation on page 117.

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Jen said...

I consider myself to be a pantser too BUT I always know the ending before I ever start.

I think 26 books and counting means your system works for you!

Lynda K. Scott said...

LOL, even after I've written a book, I'd have to go back to page 117 to see what the characters had done. Maybe I have a short attention span? Maybe that's why I don't plot in advance? Mmm, scary thought! :D

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

LOL! I've actually read some of my stuff months or years later and thought, wow, did I write that?

Sometimes I have an ending scene in my head and I work toward that, and other times, no clue. I love being surprised by my characters - though on the fliip side, they often misbehave and don't do what I hope they will. Then I threaten to plot them and they usually fall in line.

Savanna Kougar said...

Threatening to plot really works with your characters? I might have to try that.
Heck, I have no clue what will happen on page 117.
I just write 'em the ways I wants 'em. Which is much more difficult than it seems, as all pantsers know.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

LOL, Savannah, if I threaten to plot them into office cubicles and show them thoughtfully chewing their turkey sandwiches during lunch hour rather than flying spaceships around the galaxy or hunting werewolves, they tend to cooperate better.

Skylar Masey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skylar Masey said...

I don't want to know exactly what happens. What fun would that be? I like to be entertained by what comes out of my characters' mouths too.

Though I usually have a general outline, mostly of the big moments. The end is an HEA, but other than that I'm not sure how I get there until I'm 3/4 done.

As for the word count & ending date, I don't know. But I'm in the envious group. I know that I usually have a target word count, and when I'm writing hard I do 10 pages a day. But that still doens't fill in enough blanks to give me the magic number! ;0)

Savanna Kougar said...

You know, I might have to try that 'threatening' technique. Although, my characters will probably just laugh at me, because they know I'll get too bored, and not carry through on my own threat.