Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

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

Post by Sanderling » July 19th, 2011, 10:41 pm

dios4vida wrote:
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.
Hee, Charlee and Brenda. Baaaack in the day - we're talking grade six here - that's how I was first taught to write fiction. Some twenty years later I finally learned I'm a pantser, and that's why I could never produce anything in grade six, and decided I hated writing.

I'm about 90% pantser. I have a starting point, and I know what the climax is, and I sometimes have a couple of major plot points set down in the middle. And then I just write, trying to get myself from point A to B to C to D. Usually I do, but with some interesting developments along the way that make the climax not quite what I was expecting. As I write, though, I usually plot a scene or two ahead of where I am so the act of writing flows; I rarely just sit at the keyboard and write and see where it takes me.

The people that I am in total awe of are the pantsers who write their story like a granny-square quilt, jumping around from scene to scene and then stitching them together. Diana Gabaldon apparently writes like this. I totally could not do that. For one thing, so often something happens in an early scene that affects a later scene. Even if I'm only a scene or two away from something and think I know exactly how it will go I resist jumping forward to write it, because you neeever know what might happen in the one immediately before.
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by CharleeVale » July 19th, 2011, 10:51 pm

Sanderling wrote:
dios4vida wrote:
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.
The people that I am in total awe of are the pantsers who write their story like a granny-square quilt, jumping around from scene to scene and then stitching them together. Diana Gabaldon apparently writes like this. I totally could not do that. For one thing, so often something happens in an early scene that affects a later scene. Even if I'm only a scene or two away from something and think I know exactly how it will go I resist jumping forward to write it, because you neeever know what might happen in the one immediately before.
HA! This is so funny, cause it's what I do. I just write what I feel for the story in the moment. I jump everywhere, and usually rearrange scenes many, many times.

The funny thing is, that usually even if something in that later scene seems totally random, I usually find that the mechanisms to make that scene work are already there, like it was in my subconscious all along!

CV

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

Post by Quill » July 19th, 2011, 11:07 pm

Golly, this thread shows there's many ways to write a book, and not all of them are linear!

And yay for pantsers! We've gotten short shrift in other threads here :D but yeah, embrace it, it's a totally legitimate method, in pure form, or in whatever hybrid form works!

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

Post by Chantelle.S. » July 20th, 2011, 1:59 am

Fenris wrote: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.

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?
I'm exactly the same. I've written a story according to a set timeline once before - the pro of it is that I actually got the story done by the time my deadline rolled around. The con is that I hated every minute of it. I felt it curbed my creativity, like I couldn't quite let my imagination roam as I wanted it to. I have also written other stories where I had no idea who the characters were or where any of it was going. Those stories tend to keep going and going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny, because I haven't foreseen an end so I'm just strutting around in this new fictional world I created and enjoying my time getting to know the characters.

If you're used to 'winging' it, don't try to force yourself to follow a timeline. You'll be miserable writing it because you're not used to having a leash tied around your muse when you write. The only advice I can really give you is to do any plotting in your head (this is easier to do if you're focussing on only one MS). If you get what I call a 'brain-spark' that you think would be brilliant in your story, dot it down in a notebook, and carry on plotting in your mind. Sooner or later you'll know how to start your story off, and how you want it to end - and those are the only things you really have to know for certain, especially if you're a pantser. You can play the field and kick the characters and settings around and toss in whatever subplots crop up along the way to your heart's content, all you need to keep doing is moving toward the other side of the field to reach the goal. I've found the longer I let an idea fester in my head, the more it grows, until I get to the point where I want to sit down and write the actual story. That's just how I've started to do things, it might not work for everyone.
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by Cookie » July 20th, 2011, 3:56 am

CharleeVale wrote:
Sanderling wrote: The people that I am in total awe of are the pantsers who write their story like a granny-square quilt, jumping around from scene to scene and then stitching them together. Diana Gabaldon apparently writes like this. I totally could not do that. For one thing, so often something happens in an early scene that affects a later scene. Even if I'm only a scene or two away from something and think I know exactly how it will go I resist jumping forward to write it, because you neeever know what might happen in the one immediately before.
HA! This is so funny, cause it's what I do. I just write what I feel for the story in the moment. I jump everywhere, and usually rearrange scenes many, many times.

The funny thing is, that usually even if something in that later scene seems totally random, I usually find that the mechanisms to make that scene work are already there, like it was in my subconscious all along!

CV
I totally do this too. I'm all over the place when I write. I can't write in a linear fashion to save my life.

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

Post by CharleeVale » July 20th, 2011, 4:08 am

Cookie wrote:
CharleeVale wrote:
Sanderling wrote: The people that I am in total awe of are the pantsers who write their story like a granny-square quilt, jumping around from scene to scene and then stitching them together. Diana Gabaldon apparently writes like this. I totally could not do that. For one thing, so often something happens in an early scene that affects a later scene. Even if I'm only a scene or two away from something and think I know exactly how it will go I resist jumping forward to write it, because you neeever know what might happen in the one immediately before.
HA! This is so funny, cause it's what I do. I just write what I feel for the story in the moment. I jump everywhere, and usually rearrange scenes many, many times.

The funny thing is, that usually even if something in that later scene seems totally random, I usually find that the mechanisms to make that scene work are already there, like it was in my subconscious all along!

CV
I totally do this too. I'm all over the place when I write. I can't write in a linear fashion to save my life.
I can't help it! What am I supposed to do when a scene comes to me, full formed, with dialogue. (Has happened once of twice) I'm not going to wait to write that down!

Surprisingly though, NaNo has me writing almost linearly - is that a word? but not quite.

CV

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

Post by Sanderling » July 20th, 2011, 9:29 am

CharleeVale wrote:
Cookie wrote:
I totally do this too. I'm all over the place when I write. I can't write in a linear fashion to save my life.
I can't help it! What am I supposed to do when a scene comes to me, full formed, with dialogue. (Has happened once of twice) I'm not going to wait to write that down!

Surprisingly though, NaNo has me writing almost linearly - is that a word? but not quite.

CV
You guys rock. I don't know how you do it. I would /love/ to be able to write down my fully-formed later scenes (like the climax; I can't tell you how many times that scene gets written out in my head before I finally reach it and am able to write it down), but I just can't. I've done it once or twice, and found that when I do finally reach it, linearly, what I wrote doesn't fit and I end up changing and rewriting the majority of the scene anyway. So I've stopped bothering since it's mostly a waste of time, and if it includes any snippets I'm concerned about losing in the meantime I jot them down quickly in my notepad and get back to the main thread.
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by Cookie » July 20th, 2011, 11:36 am

Sanderling wrote:
CharleeVale wrote:
Cookie wrote:
I totally do this too. I'm all over the place when I write. I can't write in a linear fashion to save my life.
I can't help it! What am I supposed to do when a scene comes to me, full formed, with dialogue. (Has happened once of twice) I'm not going to wait to write that down!

Surprisingly though, NaNo has me writing almost linearly - is that a word? but not quite.

CV
You guys rock. I don't know how you do it. I would /love/ to be able to write down my fully-formed later scenes (like the climax; I can't tell you how many times that scene gets written out in my head before I finally reach it and am able to write it down), but I just can't. I've done it once or twice, and found that when I do finally reach it, linearly, what I wrote doesn't fit and I end up changing and rewriting the majority of the scene anyway. So I've stopped bothering since it's mostly a waste of time, and if it includes any snippets I'm concerned about losing in the meantime I jot them down quickly in my notepad and get back to the main thread.
I will admit that I do go back and revise some of those scenes, but at least I have the basic idea down. Plus, I don't forget the awesome dialogue that pops into my head at random times. Sometimes, I feel like a time traveler the way I pop in and out of the scenes. Either that, or my characters are incredibly random.

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

Post by dios4vida » July 21st, 2011, 11:41 am

Sanderling wrote:The people that I am in total awe of are the pantsers who write their story like a granny-square quilt, jumping around from scene to scene and then stitching them together. Diana Gabaldon apparently writes like this. I totally could not do that. For one thing, so often something happens in an early scene that affects a later scene. Even if I'm only a scene or two away from something and think I know exactly how it will go I resist jumping forward to write it, because you neeever know what might happen in the one immediately before.
That's true, Sanderling. It does require a decent amount of rewriting when you write in pieces (I do it too, obviously). When I first finish getting my plot cohesive and everything figured out, instead of calling that my first draft I call it my half draft. I have to go through it again, fitting everything together now that I know the ending. Some things get changed in light of upcoming events. It isn't until I've done all of that that I have a first draft. Then I start my edits. It's a lot of work but it's an exhilarating kind of work. I couldn't and wouldn't want to write any other way.
CharleeVale wrote:The funny thing is, that usually even if something in that later scene seems totally random, I usually find that the mechanisms to make that scene work are already there, like it was in my subconscious all along!
This is so true!! I can't tell you how many times I go back and find that some tiny, inconsequential detail I don't even remember putting in turns out to be a perfect foreshadowing of the event I didn't even know was coming at the time. It's half thrilling, half creepy when that happens. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. :D
Brenda :)

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

Post by oldhousejunkie » July 21st, 2011, 1:06 pm

I'd say that I'm a hybrid...although I'm a recently reformed pantser.

If I stuck to being a pantser, I would take another ten years to finish my new novel. So I have made myself write an outline for my new project, but I will by no means stick to it. My characters have a tendency to throw curve balls, so I feel better about having some sense of where this is all going, but also feeling like I have some flexibility to let the muse (or my characters) run away with me. :D

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

Post by Megs6703 » July 21st, 2011, 10:52 pm

Pantser here as well. I'm like CV though- I jump all over the place. The very first scene I wrote in my current novel doesn't actually show up until like, the third chapter or so. Whenever I get stuck somewhere, I just skip ahead to a new scene that I've already got figured out in my head and then I'll fill in the blanks later.

And like oldhousejunkie- it's like my subconscious is a total planner because I'll want to make something happen and I'll realize that some random piece of info I threw in earlier turns out to be a major player in my new scene. (Does that make sense?) I have a friend who I talk writing with all the time and I'm always telling her that it's so weird when even *I* am surprised by what my characters do or say. :)

Having said that, I've been more of a planner lately because I'm envisioning my current novel as the first of a series, so I had to have a general idea of where the series may go so I could lay groundwork in the first book.
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 22nd, 2011, 1:02 am

OK here I Go weighing in on the subject.I am a pantser in the out side world,but a planner on the inside :lol:
What I mean is I have a clear outline in my head. I don't write it down because it is stupid. I will only make another outline later! :lol:
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by Fenris » July 23rd, 2011, 11:20 am

dios4vida wrote:
CharleeVale wrote:The funny thing is, that usually even if something in that later scene seems totally random, I usually find that the mechanisms to make that scene work are already there, like it was in my subconscious all along!
This is so true!! I can't tell you how many times I go back and find that some tiny, inconsequential detail I don't even remember putting in turns out to be a perfect foreshadowing of the event I didn't even know was coming at the time. It's half thrilling, half creepy when that happens. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. :D
I get this a lot too, though for me it's half conscious, half unconscious. There are frequent times where "that one thing" from earlier will pop back into my head just in time for me to realize it could be useful, but other times I'll be looking back and going "hey, I could use that here." But in either case, my Chekov's Guns tend to start out as Red Herrings or less, only graduating when I discover their untapped usefulness.
Chantelle.S. wrote:If you're used to 'winging' it, don't try to force yourself to follow a timeline. You'll be miserable writing it because you're not used to having a leash tied around your muse when you write. The only advice I can really give you is to do any plotting in your head (this is easier to do if you're focussing on only one MS). If you get what I call a 'brain-spark' that you think would be brilliant in your story, dot it down in a notebook, and carry on plotting in your mind. Sooner or later you'll know how to start your story off, and how you want it to end - and those are the only things you really have to know for certain, especially if you're a pantser. You can play the field and kick the characters and settings around and toss in whatever subplots crop up along the way to your heart's content, all you need to keep doing is moving toward the other side of the field to reach the goal. I've found the longer I let an idea fester in my head, the more it grows, until I get to the point where I want to sit down and write the actual story. That's just how I've started to do things, it might not work for everyone.
This is very true, but the issue here is that the world is so big and full of so many possibilities, I could get twenty books from the same beginning and ending (I already have close to ten versions of the same book that all go in wildly different directions). It's like some sort of sinkhole that I've gotten mired in, and I need a lifeline to pull myself to the other side (this would be the outline). There's no way I could outline like Polymath--and good Lord, Poly, how do you do it?--but at this point I think if I just let my characters go they could "go" for about ten years before accomplishing anything. The problem is this idea's festered for far too long, and the world has grown far too large for me to explore without a map and still get back in time to challenge the villain. The good news is I have a tentative outline already in my head now. The bad news is it's so tentative and vague it's like a mirage--if I focus on it too much it goes away.

Sorry for the wall of text. I'm not sure if I should be glad I'm not the only one with this problem or sympathetic to the others afflicted with it...
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Re: Here we go again--planners plus pantsers=?

Post by Watcher55 » July 24th, 2011, 11:58 am

Fenris wrote:This is very true, but the issue here is that the world is so big and full of so many possibilities, I could get twenty books from the same beginning and ending (I already have close to ten versions of the same book that all go in wildly different directions). It's like some sort of sinkhole that I've gotten mired in, and I need a lifeline to pull myself to the other side (this would be the outline). There's no way I could outline like Polymath--and good Lord, Poly, how do you do it?--but at this point I think if I just let my characters go they could "go" for about ten years before accomplishing anything. The problem is this idea's festered for far too long, and the world has grown far too large for me to explore without a map and still get back in time to challenge the villain. The good news is I have a tentative outline already in my head now. The bad news is it's so tentative and vague it's like a mirage--if I focus on it too much it goes away.
Y'know - you say "pantser," and even pantsers tend to get an image of a semi-goofy person who lets the story run away with him, but when its all said and done the successful pantser can't be any less disciplined than the planner.

Your world is bigger than the story, and there are so many directions your story can take. That's a good thing because the bigger your world is in your head, the more material you have to work with. Here's the thing - there comes a point when you have to "turn the page" so to speak. What you have is a collection of characters with stories behind them and possibilities ahead of them and it's ok to have twenty possible directions, but you won't get finished unless you choose one; even if that one one is an amalgum of the twenty.

I used to think in terms of "vague outlines," but I found that it's better to think in terms of "story arcs." When I think outline, I feel like I have to keep it in some kind of formatted order in my head. A story arc is pretty much the same thing as an outline only without the:
I
A
1.
2.
B
II

This is where discipline is important, because it's not as much a matter of self-discipline as it is a matter of applying discipline to the story itself. You have the idea of the story arc, you just have to follow it. Let your characters be who they are but it's your turn to be in charge.

A little piece of fortune cookie wisdom I modified from my days as a store manager:
A good plan well executed is better than a perfect plan bogged down in details.

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

Post by dios4vida » July 24th, 2011, 2:25 pm

Watcher55 wrote:This is where discipline is important, because it's not as much a matter of self-discipline as it is a matter of applying discipline to the story itself. You have the idea of the story arc, you just have to follow it. Let your characters be who they are but it's your turn to be in charge.
Amen, Watcher. Very well said. Great advice for us all. :)
Brenda :)

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

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