Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I fly by the seat of my pants. What about you?

Sassy Brit's Blog Hop asks...
Are you a plotter or a panster? Do you plot your stories ahead of writing? Or do you write and see what happens? (Writing “by the seat of your pants”.) Why do you work that way? What are the benefits ...and drawbacks?

I live dangerously, and fly by the seat of my pants.

Plan? Me? Ha, that's a huge joke! Which is funny, because I am organized in every other part of my life. Yet, when it comes to writing, I just take it as it comes. Sometimes, I get dry spells. Sometimes, I can't write fast enough. One thing is for sure, though, I won't be able to write it if I plot before I start. I tried it once, and got so frustrated because the characters didn't want to do what I wanted them to do. I've never done it again, because there is nothing worst that characters forced into doing stuff that just doesn't suit them. As I write, things change, and the plot changes. Heck, once a character even had a sex change half way through a work in progress. A he became a she, because it made more sense like that.
So a panster I am, and I'm happy with that. My process works for me, so who am I to try and change it?
My process is as follows.
  1. The idea or basic feel for a new story is sparked by a song, or movie, or book...or seeing a kid picking his nose -- yeah, ideas come from the strangest of places. For example. 80s rock romance came from re-watching some John Hughes classics! I just had to revisit the feel of my favorite era, why hadn't I already?
  2. Who will be in this story, and what will their conflict and goals be? Google image search is great for this!
  3. Open a new .doc and write chapter one to get a sense of where the story will go.
  4. Write a loose premise.
  5. Chapter one is written, and I have a premise. Now it's time to carry a note book around with me everywhere I go, because once I have started a new story, the plot bunnies never leave me alone...unless I try and do something that the characters don't like...until I'm finished. Wait, does that make me a semi-plotter and panster? A planster? hmmm Yes, I'm a planster!
  6. I edit the complete book. Maybe four or five rounds, because the first draft is really rough.
  7. Next comes layering. Within the rounds of edits, I find holes in the plot, or new twists I can use to enhance and build on the story.
  8. Sigh, I've finally finished. Oh wait, I forgot to add such and such information so this scene ties into that scene, or this character should have red hair so the next scene is more believable. yeah, little 'touches' are added throughout until I'm happy I can add no more.
  9. Final step, and the most dreaded. The synopsis. It begins with a step by step outline of the story. Then I narrow it down to all the important parts. And then those points turn into paragraphs. From there, I edit it to make sure my voice and style comes through, as well as the story.
So, what about you? Plotter, panster or planster? Why? Have you tried all three ways? Is each project different in the way you approach it? I'd love to know...maybe I'll pick up tips on how to be a little more organized in my 10 steps to a book! (oh, that sounds like a book! LOL)

Now do you understand why my debut book, When A Mullo Loves A Woman has so many twists and turns, and the ending can never be guessed? Maybe I was a mystery writer in a past life? hehe

Talking of When A Mullo Loves A Woman and past lives...
If you buy this paranormal romance mystery book, through April 2011, all publisher proceeds go to American Cancer Society's Relay For Life program! How awesome is that? Buy links, and information, can be found in the left hand column of this blog. But basically, it's available in most major eBook stores!



  1. I'm a little of both, though I'm absolutely inspired by music,! When something moves me, I immediately start thinking of a story to write around it. Wish there were more hours in a day to write it all!

  2. Three cheers for a fellow pantser. I totally identify with dry spells as I'm in one right now. I wish I knew how to kick this character into gear and make her start chatting. She entered my head with an eagerness that made me start her story, now I can't figure out why she's not talking. Do you think she died or something? *lol*

  3. Oh yes, I'm a combo of both. I think it is so interesting you are a pantser when writing your story, but you can write down the 10 steps to explain your process. I like your explanation of figuring out your synopsis. Thanks!

  4. Well, I love 80's music...oh my maybe that gives my age away. It totally inspires me. They synopsis is the last thing I do as well. I dread it each time. It seems a lot of use us a little bit of both worlds. Pantser and plotter just in different ways.

    I'm totally organized as well, so I would have thought I'd be a plotter, but nothing could be further from the truth.

    Lawna Mackie

  5. I'm the opposite very unorganized in everything except when it comes to plotting! I find I have a similar process when it comes to revision and editing. I think of my WIP as a messy deck of cards and every time through I'm fixing and straightening more of the cards. Until finally I'm done and then the next story starts and I have another mess on my hands.

  6. I'm a plotter but in many ways I'm both -- at the beginning, JoAnne!

    I really enjoyed reading your 'process'. And I agree, it sounds like a book! LOL



  7. Wow! you are honestly one of the only blogger blogs I can post to. I am not sure what it is going on, prob Blogger troubles, but it makes a change to get through, first time! :)

  8. Thanks, Angel. Ah, blogger plays up like that, from time to time! Some days is inability to comment. Other days it's an inability to actually post a blog. But mostly, Blogger is pretty quick at getting things back on track. I'm so glad you were able to post, though:)

    Thanks for posting, everyone! It's really interesting to hear about the process other writers go through, to get to the end manuscript. I've actually picked up a few tips from blog hopping, today. :)

  9. Good to know I'm in good company. Although, I've come to respect the necessity of doing some plotting or research, I'm still enough of a panster to be quite grudging and perfunctory, when it's necessary.

    I'm doing the Author Blog Hop today too. This was my answer to today's question:
    "Plotter or Pantser - Does it Matter?"