Planner or Pantser

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Heather B
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Planner or Pantser

Post by Heather B » July 9th, 2010, 5:26 am

The first book I ever wrote was so meticulously planned that when I went back to edit, the MS felt too tight and unnatural. Since then, I plan the main points in advance then put them aside and just write. I'll check to make sure I'm on track and haven't forgotten anything but other than that I have relatively free range.

My best friend however is a pantser. She can't plan, it just doesn't happen.

So my question is, which are you? Have you tried the other option or are you simply happy to just stick to your guns. I've tried both and without a plan, I don't get very far. I just don't see the appeal in getting to the end of a WIP, realising you want to add something and then having to rewrite the whole thing.

Pantsing seems like hard work to me.
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karenbb
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by karenbb » July 9th, 2010, 7:35 am

I know where things start (although that usually ends up getting cut when you realize you're dinking around too much) and I know where things end. I know a few key events along the way and I let the characters tell me how we get there. Personally, I think it's better to let your characters dictate the story line rather than the other way around. Make them real, put them in a situation, and see what happens. As far as I'm concerned, it's a mistake to plan out your story line too much. Obviously, this approach doesn't work for all genres because things need to be more planned out if you have a very complex or technical plot.

I guess that makes me more pantser than planner. Go Pantsers!

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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by dios4vida » July 9th, 2010, 9:55 am

I think I would fall just barely on the side of "planner" rather than "pantser." I have giant white boards in my office that I keep my WIP's outline on, though usually it's very vague and not terribly far ahead of where I'm writing. I tend to use it more to help me remember the exact chain of events that have happened so that I can figure out where to go from there.

I am a firm believer in letting your characters lead the story, which is why I can't plan out the whole thing. I don't know the characters well enough at the beginning to predict how they're react at the end. If I set a firm outline at the beginning I'll never get anything written. I need the freedom to let my creativity fly free and see where it takes me.

So maybe I'm just on the side of "pantser" rather than "planner." I don't know, but however I do it, it works for me.
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Down the well » July 9th, 2010, 10:11 am

karenbb wrote:I know where things start (although that usually ends up getting cut when you realize you're dinking around too much) and I know where things end.
That's pretty much how I start. I give free-range to the story and characters for the first two thirds of the story. After that it's time to rein it in. To keep the ending from getting away from me, I plan out the last third in detail and stick to the outline.

So I'm two-thirds pantser, one third planner. :)

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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by polymath » July 9th, 2010, 10:24 am

Both, whatever moves a project along whenever it comes along. My plans are organic writing. My free writing is planned. When a subconscious interjection pops up out of the think store, I evaluate it. More often than not, I reject it, but it's moving forward. Twenty more, or a hundred more thinks to go, and one down, one less to consider.

A hunch something isn't quite right in a current project occurred to me yesterday. I did a little external research. What does my opening need that I've missed for this project. It needs a stronger, clearer central dilemma. It opens in medias res. What I'd overlooked is the influxing external pressures that set the protagonist in motion. It had depicted the protagonist's reaction, an effect. The immediate causes weren't depicted. Duh-huh. I'd not planned the First Cause. I had planned the Final Cause. Once I recognized a part was missing, then I planned the First Cause and evaluated its influences on the existing opening and middle and ending. It's holding up. In fact, what I'd written was pointing back to the effect opening, inspiring the new causal opening's inspiration.
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Margo » July 9th, 2010, 10:43 am

A planner to the far extreme (big surprise, I'm sure). If I pants it, I invariably meander. For me, planning cuts down on actual writing time and eliminates (in my estimate) one or two revisions.

I wondered for awhile if I was planning too much, so I talked to a couple of trusted industry sources about the issue (like my template addiction, for instance), and their feedback on my planning level was surprisingly positive. To an extent, I think it's also a genre issue. I was writing epic fantasy at the time. It seems to be particularly important in sci-fi and fantasy.
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Margo » July 9th, 2010, 10:49 am

polymath wrote:A hunch something isn't quite right in a current project occurred to me yesterday.
OMG, those hunches are gold, aren't they? My 'somethings not right' hunches have always been dead on. Took me awhile to learn to trust it and let the hunch thump me repeatedly in the back of the head until the answer finally fell into place. Now I start to get that feeling and just wait for it to take shape, rather than trying to push through a block and wasting a ton of effort going the wrong direction (as made clear when I finally 'get it').
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by cheekychook » July 9th, 2010, 11:19 am

I'd have to say I'm a hybrid. I plan the whole plot out in my head, know my characters inside and out, then I write down the events of the story as if I'm recalling memories....but as I write them down my characters are telling them to me and at that point I'm not sure what details they're going to tell me that I didn't previously know, so I'm definitely flying by the seat of my pants. It's kind of like the way I plan a vacation. I want to know all my options about restaurants and sights and locations BEFORE I go, but when I get there I'm up for anything, and I'm totally willing to take the advice of locals over whatever info I gleaned online----I just like knowing that I know all the details I learned ahead of time, in case I need them.
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polymath
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by polymath » July 9th, 2010, 12:00 pm

Margo wrote:OMG, those hunches are gold, aren't they? My 'somethings not right' hunches have always been dead on. Took me awhile to learn to trust it and let the hunch thump me repeatedly in the back of the head until the answer finally fell into place. Now I start to get that feeling and just wait for it to take shape, rather than trying to push through a block and wasting a ton of effort going the wrong direction (as made clear when I finally 'get it').
Gold, diamonds in the rough, raw ore, yeah. All the data stored up for a writing project tends to filter out of the subconscious mind in a raw state, but not as raw as total chaos. I've followed hunches for a while. Some led nowhere, some went partway somewhere. The good ones lead all the way there. It's amazing how fast the mind sorts and selects, chooses at speeds that take pages and pages to express the thought processes involved. I'm partial to hunches that start a train of thought and go on into unexplored territory for originality's sake. So I rarely settle on a first answer anymore. I ask, okay, that's better, what might make it stellar, before settling. That's planning based on organic thinking.
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Mira
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Mira » July 9th, 2010, 1:37 pm

I am a total pantser, and I wish I wasn't! I find my writing process to be scary, since I never really know where I'm going to end up. But I've tried planning, and it just doesn't work for me - at least not with my excursions into fiction. Even non-fiction, though, I tend to use very broad outlines, which always end up being completely irrelevant anyway. My writing goes whither it wants, and I follow along.

In revision and editing, my organized right brain kicks in. But in drafting, I have no idea where it's going. I don't even know where this post is going.

Wish I had a different process, but that's just me.

So, I'll reluctantly join karenbb - go panters!

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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Margo » July 9th, 2010, 2:33 pm

Mira wrote:Wish I had a different process, but that's just me.
I'd suggest picking up a copy of James Scott Bell's book Plot and Structure, first because it's just an all around great book IMO, but also because there is a section near the end about planning and pantsing that includes hybrid techniques. You might find something there that is just enough pantser/just enough planner for you.
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by sbs_mjc1 » July 9th, 2010, 9:14 pm

I'm going to go against the majority on this thread, and say I'm a hardcore planner. Mike is a panster, which drove me nuts (especially because he is a closet planner and spies on my outlines/notecards) . After some harping on each other about the other person's OMG unreasonable work style, we came to a compromise. We "walked through", with both of us generating content on the fly (the only rule is that is that new plot points need to be strongly causal), and then developed that into a tighter outline, from which we both work.
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Heather B
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Heather B » July 9th, 2010, 9:59 pm

I'm actually fairly surprised there a so many pantsers!
Margo I'm with you on the hardcore planning. I have legions of backstory etc that are meticulously detailed. I'll let my characters go their own way when it seems important but I always rein them in before they get too side-tracked.
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by maybegenius » July 9th, 2010, 10:35 pm

I'm a planner. I tried to do the pantser thing, but I always floundered because I didn't know where I was going. Now I at least need the major plot points planned out, and then I have goals to work toward and I find it MUCH easier.

I never have anything 100% planned (do any of us? hehe), so sometimes fleshing the story out can get crazy, but I always know my general destination :D
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by GeeGee55 » July 10th, 2010, 12:33 pm

Pantser with internal planning. I begin with pantsing. Once I have the first line then off I go. At some point I stop to plan and consider what I have and then off I go pantsing again. In the last revision of my novel I actually wrote something and then thought gee, I think this is the end. After consideration, I knew, yup it was the end.

As for planning saving doing revisions, I'm not sure that's a good thing. The point is not to get to the end of the work more quickly without having to revise. To revision is to resee, to allow yourself to go in a different direction, even though you may have to go back if you discover you've been going in the wrong direction. A mentor once told me - go with all surprises, the things you weren't expecting, they come from your subconscious. Forget everything you want to say or that you know about the world or about experience and let the story happen, let the story direct you. It's kind of scary to do that though.

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