This is the first time I will be sitting down typing my blog post into the magic window directly. I didn’t pre-write this post days ago, edit it obsessively, then copy and paste it here for you all to read. Read: these are my thoughts on the fly.
It’s kind of exciting.
All up-and-coming authors must weigh in on the pantser vs. plotter issue. (It’s a rule. I looked it up in the manual.)
When I first started writing I thought writers could be put into one of two categories: Plotters, or those who meticulously plot and plan their books; or Pantsers, or those who just write by the seat of their pants.
Plotter people outline, diagram, and organize their stories before they write one single word. Pantser people start with a blank document (or piece of paper if they’re old school) and write whatever comes to them.
Understand there is no “right” way to write a novel. Or rather, the “right way” is the way that works for you.
So how do you know what works for you? Easy, I say. You do what I did and try both.
I’ve come up with the conclusion that I’m Plantser. (Because JK Rowling has the copyright on Potter.)
I signed up for a retreat in October. With my registration, I’m given the opportunity to submit the first ten pages of my work in progress, plus a synopsis. “That’s great,” I said.
Until I realized I had no synopsis written. I know what a synopsis is. I had an idea of how to write one, but I had to get it on the page before I could submit it.
As I was writing I discovered something amazing. I had to know what was going to happen throughout my novel. Like, all the way to the end. This was not a comforting thought to someone who was pretending to be a Pantser. But what I discovered was that writing the synopsis generated ideas, and plot points, characterizations. I had to pause the synopsis-writing in order to run make notes or write a quick scene for the novel.
And now that the synopsis is finished, I have a great plan and a lot of scenes that may not have come to me in any other way. It’s a good feeling.
On the flip side of this is I still haven’t lost my Pantser roots. Last night I wrote a scene that I love. In the scene the reader learns why a character has a particular nickname. But you see, before I started writing that scene, I had no idea why they called him that. I just knew that was his nickname.
But as I wrote the scene, the character told me why.
And that’s what I love most about writing. Creating something out of random bits of neurons firing around in my brain.
So today I’m a satisfied writer. I’ve learned a skill that will help me craft my story better. And I’ve allowed myself to go with the flow and come up with a great scene.
Not a bad day’s work for a Plantser.