Monday, July 11, 2011

Pantsing Vs Plotting

This is a dilemma I face each time I start a new book. My brain says, “Sit down, plot it out.” But my heart says, “Just go with it, you'll be fine.”

As, I'm not known for my reasonable approach, I inevitably start typing away. About halfway into chapter 3 I no longer recognize my MC and have no idea who this cast of hoodlums are that are following his/her every move. Then I'm stuck....

Do I go back and start over? Or do I incorporate these ballsy bullies who've butted their way in? Well, you've probably already guessed, I write them in. After all, what fairy story doesn't need a one-eyed psychopathic demon-eater with morning breath and a hankering for milkshakes?

And all is fine for a few more chapters.... But once I'm forced to start tying everything altogether, I run into massive roadblock. Boulders are dropped from cliffs, cars crushed beneath and my fairy has sprouted demon horns and developed a madness for poltergeist sherbet. Don't ask...

When all this happens I can't even remember where the story was supposed to go in the first place. Sigh :( Which is where I find myself now. My current WIP, a YA Dystopian is running amok on me. I've tried spanking her back on track, but she'll just have none of it. While this one, I made a flimsy outline of the plot, (spent nights obsessing right before falling asleep and tucking it safely into one corner of my manic brain) I seem to have taken a wrong turn or six.

It's not that I don't like where I am, I absolutely love the story. But I'm on the down slope and the climax is growing instead of diminishing. Is that a good thing? Will my Ezra blow up One Globe or will her rapidly expanding love for both the baby in her belly and the gun-boned ghost from her past slow her down? I don't know! I just don't know...

Drop me your dilemma. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Still looking for a good match on a YA critique partner, help!


  1. I write YA! I'll, if you'd like.

    I'm a little of both. I plot a rough outline and have a reasonable idea how it ends, but the in-betweens are whatever comes out when I'm typing. Fence-sitting--best of both worlds.

  2. I'm a pantser because I like to sit down and start writing without worrying about an outline. :P

  3. My first drafts are just my MC rambling on and on about what's happening, so I don't use outlines for that. But when it comes to second drafts, then I need to do serious outlining. Good luck figuring it out and finding a CP. :)

  4. I'm a pantser. Always have been. I can't plot. It feels too much like I'm in sixth grade writing outlines.
    I'm also a very fast reader and have been an editorial intern with Entangled Publishing for the past 5 months. If you're still looking for a CP, drop me an email and I'll see what I can do.

  5. I usually open a folder for each character, and each scene. I than develop them separately. I may work on the climax, or some backstory, a middle section that piques me at the moment. I keep going between each folder, tweaking inconsistencies, opening new floders when necessary, and then, when the time seems right, I start to weave it all together. This process requires a few connective passages, a few consistency fixes, but not very many. It all comes together.

  6. I usually just go with it for my first draft. Then I sit back and try to make some sort of outline and cast of characters...some sort of organization.
    I follow a YA group on facebook and I am quite sure you could find a few critique partners there.
    Hope this takes you there:
    If not I will try something else let me know:)

  7. @David If your writing is anything like your blog you may be a good fit. I have 1 partner and she is currently writing a zombie love story. Which is pure awesomeness... Send us three chapters (preferably 1st chapters but not mandatory) at leazeqiri(at) and if we both feel like we could help each other we'll send you ours. Also mention what kind of partner you want, lots of feedback or just a reader.

    @Alleged Your comments always seem so thought out, I'd have pegged you a plotter.

    @Madeline I tend to ramble too much. lol

    @Christa I think that's exactly why I pants it.

    @Stan Wow, you make me look bad.

    @Doreen, thanks a million, I'm checking them out.

  8. Hey Red! I'm a fellow wanton redhead, too, plus a foodie, ex-believer in organized religion (Catholic) AND your newest follower!! And I live in Seattle, so coffee...yeah, it's a way of life here.

    You're the second blog to ask this question this week. Personally, I'm a plotter. I wrote an extensive outline for my novel and stuck to it. It's much easier to add on than take away and patch the rough spots.

    As for what you've already written, if you stall out, just use what you have as a rough outline. Scratch off what's no working and highlight what is and start again. Think of yourself as a hybrid plotter/pantser. Not a bad thing at all.

    Hope you pop on over to my place for a looksie. I love comments and to meet new people, especially fellow writers. I write adult thrillers, though, so I wouldn't make a good critique partner match.

  9. I'm a pantser. But halfway through, I always start making an outline or at least a very basic sketch of where I want the plot to go. So I guess I'm sorta both.

  10. I'm a panster. I write 'em in 6 weeks and fix 'em and get 'em critiqued for a year.

    But my last one, I wrote on and off for a year. Then the editing and critique period was only 3 months. I thought about more chapters before I wrote them. While I'm not an outliner or a plotter, I may have found a better way.

    We'll see what happens next time...

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  12. @Nancy Always happy to meet a fellow red, but your attributes are freaky. It's like we were torn apart at the umbilical cord...hmmm? Heading to your blog thanks for the follow.

    @Cherie Yeah, I sort of do that. I get a feel for where the story naturally goes, throw in a few curve balls and hope to end up where I intended. But this one is...well, it just is.

    @Theresa You make me sick, with jealousy.