Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

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Fenris
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Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by Fenris » July 18th, 2011, 7:22 pm

Hello forumgoers, long time no see. I've been meaning to get on more, but life keeps getting in the way.

Anyway, I had a question I'd like your opinions on. We hear a lot about two of the big camps in the writer's world: planners and pantsers. Planners plan. Pantsers go by the seats of their trousers. The two are often irreconcilable, but I wondered if they could be combined.

See, primarily I'm a pantser. If I have any kind of comprehensive outline, I either don't end up following it or I lose my motivation because the story's already on paper (albeit in abbreviated form). But without an outline, 99% of the time I wander aimlessly until I run out of steam and have to start over. Obviously, this is an issue I'm going to have to figure out.

But I wondered if it would be advisable to try out a timeline--not a single timeline of events, but a comprehensive timeline of all possible events. This would take an incredible amount of time, I know, but this way I might not feel limited. Do you think it'd be too big of a time sink (I already have enough of those), or would it be worth it?
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polymath
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by polymath » July 18th, 2011, 7:35 pm

I draft write intuitively after testing an inspiration's core structural and thematic attributes. The inspiration's got to start with an inciting crisis and got to lead to an outcome. There's got to be some high-wire tension in between. And for the sake of unity, it's got to have a relevant thematic characteristic I can put a finger on, related to a dramatic conflict, i.e., life or death, acceptance or rejection, and so on, and an undercurrent, cogent subtext that ties every motif to the theme and message.

After draft writing, I go back and scrutinize with a rigorous filtering process further testing for structure and theme and delve deeply into intuitive voice attributes. Another pass will reexamine voice from a structural approach.

Prewriting planning, intuitive draft writing, rewriting planning, intuitive aesthetical revisions, revision planning and some degrees of both intuitive writing and planned writing in between.

As far as timelines go, I plan one based on the central events of the inspiration as they pertain to the crises scenes and intervening acts and scenes. I list a dozen or so high magnitude events and their intents and meanings and from there test their chronological order and tension factors. Sometimes an event is out of order because it's higher or lower tension than it needs to be for its placement. I either change its tension factor or its chronological order or test to see if the order is better in a nonlinear timeline. An opening act, for example, occuring later or earlier in the timeline than rigidly chronological order suggests.
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by Mike R » July 18th, 2011, 7:46 pm

If you're a pantser, don't fight it. Writing every possible event along a timeline would probably cause some sort of damage to a pantser brain, perhaps even a total meltdown.

I'm a pantser. What works for me is to run things through my crit group as I write. I adjust that portion and then move on. That way the story takes me where it wants to go, but Ive been alerted to inconsistencies and repaired them. I also have little brainstormed snippets floating from the crit group and they often find their way into the story.

The above comments should in no way be construed a a dis on plotters/planners. My wife is a plotter and I have the utmost respect for that style of writing. I just can't do it; I go off the rails every time.

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Heather B
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by Heather B » July 18th, 2011, 8:04 pm

And I have the utmost respect for pantsers because I just cannot do it.

For me, I need to start by planning out my characters and their motivations exactly. Then when I eventually get around to writing I need to know where my chapters start and where they end. With these things I can start, without them I end up staring at a blank screen until something else distracts me.

Then again, I am currently rewriting both my novels so this may not be the best course to take :P
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GKJeyasingham
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by GKJeyasingham » July 18th, 2011, 9:17 pm

I have no idea what I am. Whenever I outline something, it tends to be very vague - rough guidelines so that I have a sense of direction for my manuscript. I find that if I make a really detailed outline, I almost always deviate from it when I actually start writing. But still, I need some sort of an outline.

So I guess I'm a planning panster. Or a panstering planner. Or whatever.

In your case, I can't really suggest anything. If a timeline will be useful for you, then go for it. But if you're a panster like you say you are, just make sure that your timeline is flexible to change. I'm currently outlining a very large story, so I'm making a timeline just to keep all the events straight in my head. But I know that I'll be changing it along the way.

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CharleeVale
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by CharleeVale » July 18th, 2011, 11:14 pm

Haha, I just blogged about Planners vs. Pantsers: http://charleevale.squarespace.com/blog ... tline.html

But I don't think that spending time outlining possible events will be profitable for you. Especially since you are a pantser. You are talking about not onlyy writing an outline, but about 30. I think it might kill your creativity.

The beauty about Pantsing is that even if the story morphs, you can go back and change it. Just make sure you keep a running list of everything you need to change, and when you feel discouraged or blocked, go back and fix something. It will help you focus on your current story again!

Keep us posted!

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Watcher55
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by Watcher55 » July 19th, 2011, 12:34 am

I'm definitely a pantser. What I do is I imagine a beginning and an end then I start free writing random chapters that may or may not survive the process. I might start with a chapter that's closer to the end than the beginning then write a chapter one, then chapter sixteen, then five and so on. When I find the right mix of chapters, I sorta line them up and weave the story over them.

Look at it like this: The beginning is the starting line. The end is the goal. The random chapters are benchmarks between the two. It's easier to stay on track because rather than writing to a distant ending, you only have to bridge maybe five or six chapters at a time. The downside is that it requires ongoing revision, so you can't be married to anything you've written until you fix Chapter one for the last time.

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dios4vida
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by dios4vida » July 19th, 2011, 11:35 am

GKJeyasingham wrote:Whenever I outline something, it tends to be very vague - rough guidelines so that I have a sense of direction for my manuscript. I find that if I make a really detailed outline, I almost always deviate from it when I actually start writing. But still, I need some sort of an outline.
I write like that.
Watcher55 wrote:I'm definitely a pantser. What I do is I imagine a beginning and an end then I start free writing random chapters that may or may not survive the process. I might start with a chapter that's closer to the end than the beginning then write a chapter one, then chapter sixteen, then five and so on. When I find the right mix of chapters, I sorta line them up and weave the story over them.
And I write like that.

I agree with the general consensus that an outline like you're talking about would be a huge feat that might be dangerous to a pantser's brain-thingie. There are just so many possibilities in a novel - one character says one thing differently and the entire outcome could change. I think that's why I like being a pantser. I never know.

Something I've done is I start with my inciting event and write that at the top of my outline. Then I take any other thoughts I have, even vague impressions of "it would be cool to do something like that" and write them further down the page (or in my case, a 4x4 white board) leaving tons of room for adding in other stuff. I keep those cool ideas in mind, sort of, and then I start writing. I fill out my outline as I go. I try to reach those cool things, but if I don't then I just save them for another project. (Example: right now I'm 51K into my WIP. My outline up to that point is awesome - after that I have exactly four points that get me to the end. I know where I'm ending but not how I'm getting there exactly. I have a goal but still enough play room for something to surprise me along the way.)

I don't know if that idea will help, but since I work along the same lines as you - can't outline fully, wander aimlessly without something - that might give you enough focus to keep your story moving forward but not so much restriction that there's no point in writing it.

Whatever you decide, good luck!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Watcher55
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by Watcher55 » July 19th, 2011, 12:14 pm

dios4vida wrote:I agree with the general consensus that an outline like you're talking about would be a huge feat that might be dangerous to a pantser's brain-thingie. There are just so many possibilities in a novel - one character says one thing differently and the entire outcome could change. I think that's why I like being a pantser. I never know.
That.

Working without an outline gives the characters more room to be unpredictable. I wasn't aware my brain had a thingie, it almost sounds obscene >:}, but I agree that constructing outlines is dangerous for me because it complicates the process and wrings all the fun out of procreating the story.

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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by Cookie » July 19th, 2011, 2:59 pm

Viva la Pantsers!

I'm a definite pantser.I like the freedom it gives me when I'm writing, especially considering I've had characters take an abrupt left turn out of nowhere before. Although, I did form an outline for my re-write because I was doing a POV change and needed to figure out what scenes and chapters belonged to which character.

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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by Quill » July 19th, 2011, 4:23 pm

Cool! While Margo's away the pantsers will play.

I'm a cross between pantser and planner. I like to know where I'm going before I start, but I like to discover many of the details along the way. Plus I think I'd go nuts if I had to figure out all the nuts and bolts ahead of starting any actual prose. Haven't the patience. It's good, though, to have a solid idea and a basic structure. My current WIP didn't have those, and it was sort of a pantser nightmare at times. So I've decided a hybrid approach is best for me, and that's what I'm doing on my next project.

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polymath
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by polymath » July 19th, 2011, 5:47 pm

polymath is a planner that would put Margo's systematic process to shame. I started as a rigorous planner, had to for high school coursework. I shed that shackle when I graduated to intuitive writing, which didn't do much better, went back to planning, went back to intuitive writing. Eventually graduated to a synthesis that's yielded better results than either method in isolation. Oh, and sentence diagraming that's one of those practices hardly anyone uses after high school, if then, that are mandatory English grammar coursework, that everyone said or thought For what possible purpose will I use this in real life. And plot graphing that's not taught nor required anywhere, but serves me well for rewriting, revising, and editing purposes.

Wanta see a novel plot outline in basic boilerplate bulletin point format?

I. Title
  A. Chapter 1 introductions
   1. Scene one
    a. first cause
    b. complication and purpose
    c. characters
     i. self-serving and self-sacrificing motivations
     ii. stakes
    d. setting
     i. time, place, and situation
     ii. influence on characters
    e. minor reversal
    f. emotional equilibrium upset
   2. Plus-N-scenes
    a. ditto above
    b. escalating emotional disequilibrium
  B. Chapter 2 Inciting crisis
   1. N-scenes
    a. ditto above
    b. major reversal
   2. Beginning completed
  C. Chapter 3 first rising action
   1. N-scenes
    a. ditto above
    b. first effort to address main dramatic complication
  D. Chapter 4 second rising action
   1. N-scenes
    a. ditto above
  E. Chapter 5 third rising action
   1. N-scenes
  F. Chapter 6 climax
   1. N-scenes
  G. Chapter 7 tragic crisis
   1. Major reversal
   2. N-scenes
  F. Chapter 8 first falling action
   1. N-scenes
    a. minor letdown
  H. Chapter 9 second falling action
   1. N-scenes
    a. ditto above
  I. Chapter 10 third falling action
   1. N-scenes
   2. Middle complete
  J. Chapter 11 final crisis
   1. Major reversal
    a. final cause
   2. N-scenes
  K. Denouement
   1. N-scenes
    a. final outcome of the main dramatic complication
    b. emotional equilibrium restored
   2. Ending complete
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CharleeVale
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by CharleeVale » July 19th, 2011, 5:51 pm

Good lord, polymath.

Just looking at that makes my muse shrivel up. I am such a Pantser, lol. But I applaud you for being able to do that.

CV

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taylormillgirl
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by taylormillgirl » July 19th, 2011, 6:02 pm

Quill wrote:Cool! While Margo's away the pantsers will play.

I'm a cross between pantser and planner. I like to know where I'm going before I start, but I like to discover many of the details along the way. Plus I think I'd go nuts if I had to figure out all the nuts and bolts ahead of starting any actual prose. Haven't the patience. It's good, though, to have a solid idea and a basic structure. My current WIP didn't have those, and it was sort of a pantser nightmare at times. So I've decided a hybrid approach is best for me, and that's what I'm doing on my next project.
I've always considered myself an outliner (I follow the first 7 steps of the snowflake method), but like most of you, I'm really a pantser hybrid. I guess you could say I've only got one leg in my pants. I need a general outline of where the story is going, but discovering the details along the way is half the fun. It always amazes me the little things I come up with on the fly.
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by dios4vida » July 19th, 2011, 7:47 pm

CharleeVale wrote:Good lord, polymath.

Just looking at that makes my muse shrivel up. I am such a Pantser, lol. But I applaud you for being able to do that.
My sentiments exactly, Charlee. I skimmed through four points and my muse started screaming and crying. I couldn't read any further for fear of losing her forever.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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