Planner or Pantser

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Down the well
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Down the well » July 10th, 2010, 2:20 pm

GeeGee55 wrote: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.
I always say my best writing days are the ones when I look up from the keyboard and think, I did not see that coming.

If it's a surprise for me it might just be a surprise for the reader too. ;)

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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Margo » July 10th, 2010, 4:20 pm

GeeGee55 wrote: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.
Planning is not about getting to the end sooner. It's about cutting out the useless meandering, for those who find their meandering is useless. Then revising is not about cutting out scenes that had no point or subplots that never went anywhere, but about tightening, heightening, and deepening writing that is already fairly polished as drafts go. I'd rather spend my revision time polishing than doing triage, but that's a planner for you.

My experience is that neither method is faster in the end. I do find that planners end up with a better quality first draft, but they took more time doing it. The pantsers generally take less time for that first draft, but then have more revision to do. Six of one, half dozen the other, especially with advanced and professional writers.

I will say (unpopularly) that I see more problems with beginning pantsers than beginning planners, especially when there is no thought to structure.
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Margo » July 10th, 2010, 4:22 pm

Down the well wrote:If it's a surprise for me it might just be a surprise for the reader too. ;)
Writers do need to be careful of the 'first thing that pops in my head' syndrome, though. But that can be a problem for planners, too, if they don't take the time to specifically avoid it.
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Margo » July 10th, 2010, 4:27 pm

Heather B wrote: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.
Yeah, I think we'd probably be mutually horrified and amused if we compared the number of pages of research, character sketches, plot notes we have accumulated. I would never publicly admit how many pages are in my character templates or (god forbid) the world-building template I have. :)

Reining in the characters is especially important for me, as I'm one of those writers who naturally tends to overshoot my target word count.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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maybegenius
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by maybegenius » July 10th, 2010, 4:43 pm

Margo wrote:
Down the well wrote:If it's a surprise for me it might just be a surprise for the reader too. ;)
Writers do need to be careful of the 'first thing that pops in my head' syndrome, though. But that can be a problem for planners, too, if they don't take the time to specifically avoid it.
Bruce Coville definitely did say something about a "Rule of 20..." Or, it's only when we get to the twentieth or so idea that we're being truly original ;)

http://upstartcrowliterary.com/blog/?p=1527

I think that's part of why I tend to be a planner, personally. I'll plot out my story, and then scrutinize my ideas with the "has it been done a billion times?" lens before I put it to paper. I don't believe I necessarily have to think of and discard 20+ ideas before I have something workable, but the exercise is helpful for chopping a lot of overdone content.
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Margo » July 10th, 2010, 4:46 pm

maybegenius wrote:I think that's part of why I tend to be a planner, personally. I'll plot out my story, and then scrutinize my ideas with the "has it been done a billion times?" lens before I put it to paper. I don't believe I necessarily have to think of and discard 20+ ideas before I have something workable, but the exercise is helpful for chopping a lot of overdone content.
Yeah, I know what you mean. I tend to drill down 3 to 6 ideas, though I do have a couple of planning exercises where I come up with 12 or 20 ideas and end up picking 3-5 of those ideas.
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Down the well
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Down the well » July 10th, 2010, 5:53 pm

maybegenius wrote:I think that's part of why I tend to be a planner, personally. I'll plot out my story, and then scrutinize my ideas with the "has it been done a billion times?" lens before I put it to paper. I don't believe I necessarily have to think of and discard 20+ ideas before I have something workable, but the exercise is helpful for chopping a lot of overdone content.
I think there's a misconception that if you somehow write without a master plan (a pantser) that you are not giving as much attention to craft as those who call themselves planners. That isn't the case at all. It's just a different process. I have six notebooks filled with research for my novel. But I research as I go, as I need it. And twenty years of writing experience has given me the ability to recognize a lower shelf idea pretty quickly when it pops into my head, so I readily let it go in favor of one a little higher up in the pantry. It's just a different process. Writing is a creative endeavor, and each person has to find what works best for them.

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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Margo » July 10th, 2010, 6:18 pm

Down the well wrote:I think there's a misconception that if you somehow write without a master plan (a pantser) that you are not giving as much attention to craft as those who call themselves planners.
Agreed, just as there is a misconception among pantsers that creativity has no role in planned projects.
Down the well wrote:And twenty years of writing experience has given me the ability to recognize a lower shelf idea pretty quickly when it pops into my head, so I readily let it go in favor of one a little higher up in the pantry.
But this is a big problem for some people, especially early on in their writing endeavors. My personal feeling is that beginners should start with more planning than pantsing, and as they get better they should experiment with whether they're a better planner or a better pantser (or hyrid thereof).

As for what maybegenious and I were saying about idea generation, that is not a strictly pantser problem, by any means. However, I do see it much more often with beginning/intermediate pantsers.

Side note: For anyone who might worry they are going with that off-the-top-of-the-head method too often, pay attention to scenes you find tedious to write. Once I knew what I was looking for, I realized those were the scenes where I was writing about actions and emotions that were just too routine. And of course that works whether you're a planner or a pantser.
Down the well wrote:It's just a different process. Writing is a creative endeavor, and each person has to find what works best for them.
Agreed. Unfortunately, the two sides keep trying to convince each other that their method is better.
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Down the well
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Down the well » July 10th, 2010, 6:28 pm

Margo wrote:Agreed, just as there is a misconception among pantsers that creativity has no role in planned projects.
I certainly hope I didn't give that impression, because it isn't what I believe. Again, it's just a difference in process.
Margo wrote:Agreed. Unfortunately, the two sides keep trying to convince each other that their method is better.
What fun would the forums be without a few spirited debates?


"Hey, Margo, how's your day?"

"Me? Oh, great. Wrote another chapter today."


Blah.

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maybegenius
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by maybegenius » July 10th, 2010, 6:32 pm

Down the well wrote:
maybegenius wrote:I think that's part of why I tend to be a planner, personally. I'll plot out my story, and then scrutinize my ideas with the "has it been done a billion times?" lens before I put it to paper. I don't believe I necessarily have to think of and discard 20+ ideas before I have something workable, but the exercise is helpful for chopping a lot of overdone content.
I think there's a misconception that if you somehow write without a master plan (a pantser) that you are not giving as much attention to craft as those who call themselves planners. That isn't the case at all. It's just a different process. I have six notebooks filled with research for my novel. But I research as I go, as I need it. And twenty years of writing experience has given me the ability to recognize a lower shelf idea pretty quickly when it pops into my head, so I readily let it go in favor of one a little higher up in the pantry. It's just a different process. Writing is a creative endeavor, and each person has to find what works best for them.
That's definitely not what I intended to imply. I just mean to say for me, personally, it's easier to have a sort of visualization of the ideas before I decide what to keep or toss. It's just what works for me :)

I agree that it's different for everyone, totally.
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Heather B
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Heather B » July 10th, 2010, 8:32 pm

My friend and I can't stop trying to convince each other to turn to the other side. But it's what works well for us. And it's fun seeing the different processes.
Journey to the Cuckoo's Nest

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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Margo » July 10th, 2010, 11:11 pm

Down the well wrote:
Margo wrote:Agreed, just as there is a misconception among pantsers that creativity has no role in planned projects.
I certainly hope I didn't give that impression, because it isn't what I believe.
I think we probably all come off that way just a tad (some more than a tad), because if we didn't think our method was a better method...we'd have chosen another method, right?

I had a similar experience when talking to fellow writers at a workshop. I mentioned that, especially for major revisions, I don't tend to tweak and revise existing writing so much as I cut and toss whole sections and rewrite from scratch. I do this because otherwise I feel too wedded to the existing words. This was shocking to many of the people listening and downright horrifying to one woman.
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RebeccaB
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by RebeccaB » July 11th, 2010, 1:26 am

Hi, this is the fly by the seat of my pants writer mentioned in Heathers original post.

I see every page of planed plots and character outlines Heather creates, and frankly it gives me a headache even thinking about planning my work.

My current WIP was completely spontaneous. My character developed in my mind as the story progressed, and before i knew it i had a clear vision of her in my head. I can see the benefits of planning. But for me, just letting my mind take me away to another place, another time or even another world is half the fun. The other half being the surprise i get when it all just seems to fall into place.

My hat is off to all you planners. If my mind didn't feel like it was going to explode at the thought of it, i would give it a go.

Who am i kidding, I will never plan, even if my mind saw every detail of the story before i wrote it, i would keep it just there, in my mind, waiting to spill onto the pages.

Happy Inking,
Rebecca

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Quill
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by Quill » July 11th, 2010, 11:56 am

I would like to be a planner. I am planning to be a planner. I am a planner in most other things. But with just about all my writing to date I have been a pantser. And it has worked pretty well. I write, I meander, and then I rewrite, and the finished product emerges. It's color, flavor, body emerges.

Come to think of it, I'm a pantser in cooking, too. I almost never look at recipes, I just grab whatever's fresh and at hand and go with it. And that seems to work, too.

I think I will plot and outline my next novel, just to try that approach, to see if it is more efficient, and possibly less...painful. I've got a couple ideas and will try working them up into a full-on plot and sequence of actions. If that can be done, I think the actual writing will be more of a walk in the park than the scaling of a strange mountain. If.

Question for you planners: if you write poetry, do you plan that ahead, too? Poetry seems the most inspiration-based writing form, unless one is talking play-length.

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polymath
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Re: Planner or Pantser

Post by polymath » July 11th, 2010, 12:16 pm

A few of the planning features I begin poetry writing with are structurally oriented, traditional forms or experimental, rigid or free verse, rhythm, pace, measure, length limitations, messages and themes and purposes, audience targetting, pastiche, conceit, parody, homage, new territory.
Spread the love of written word.

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