Pantsing Your Way To A Plot

Jun 1, 2017Encouragement, The Promptuary, Writing

To pants or to plot? That is the question. It does not really matter now. The main thing is I made it to the end of my third novel.

I don’t know what it was, but getting to the end seemed like climbing Everest. Not that I have climbed Everest, but writing the novel was certainly like scaling a mountain.

It makes me wonder if this will happen with every novel I write. Or was it just this one?

Perhaps I think too much. But then, it is a necessary evil.

I think, therefore, I write.

A Third Novel

My third novel is the second in a series about a very different witch. Writing the first in the series was fun, or so it seemed at the time. I could let my imagination go wild and did not really have anything to box me in.

With The Promptuary I had to stick to the world I had created in book one. There were set parameters. I had to adhere to them.

However, it wasn’t until I hit the halfway point in the novel that I realised I didn’t know exactly what some of the parameters were.

At that stage I had to stop, sit down, and work out what they were.

The process taught me something about my writing technique.

I Am A KInd Of Hybrid

There are two schools of thought about how authors go about planning and writing a novel.

One is you don’t plan at all, you write by the seat of you pants. This is called Pantsing. Therefore, if you write in this fashion you a Pantser.

By the way, the spellchecker on my computer has no idea what I am talking about.

It would prefer that I was a panther or that I am panting. So somehow a pantser writes with breathless stealth. At least that is the image which springs to mind.

It is probably not that far from the truth.

A panther working on a plot

This is a panther, not a pantser – cute isn’t he?

Whilst writing The Promptuary I pantsed my way to the middle of the story and then I got stuck. I was forced to switch tactics. This is when I became a plotter.

This is the other school of thought as to how to create a story.

Plotting involves meticulous planning and comes in various degrees of detail.

The fanatical plotter will go extremely deep into a story and map out every detail, possibly down to what is said in every single paragraph. They do this before they even begin writing. Others will sketch out the story and create a basic timeline.

I find myself in the second group.

Pantser Attack

I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to schedule every point in a story.

I don’t see the fun in that.

I prefer to put my imagination straight on the page. For me, writing is about discovery. The most enjoyable part is not knowing where you are going.

You are on a journey into the unknown.

Unfortunately, the risk with this is you will get lost.

And maybe get attacked by panthers.

A Plot - Sort Of

I am currently working on a prequel to the series. It will be a novella and much shorter than my other books. So, I have a chance to play around with it.

In the past I would not start writing until I had a beginning and an end. This time I have a beginning, middle and end. So, I am progressing in my plotting.

I am growing as a writer. I still have huge gaps to fill in the story where I have no idea what will happen, but I have a more rounded plan. For some reason this is less daunting. I don’t see Everest before me.

Wish me luck. This time I am going deep into the jungle. I have had enough of climbing mountains.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?


Leave a comment below or join the mailing list and let me know.

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