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  1. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hello, my Name is Bob, and I'm a Recovering 'Pantser'

    Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by zoupskim, Jun 14, 2016.

    I started when I was young. Writing was always a gut feeling for me. An impulse. Soon, normal writing wasn't enough anymore.

    So, I started 'Pantsing'.

    I would 'pants' during the mornings, at night, during school, anytime I could, really. I'd sneak off to 'pants' during work, drawing little comics on sticky notes, or writing unfinished short stories during lunch time on notepads. I would ignore my friends to 'pants', saying that someday I would be a famous author while they were goofing off with engineering degrees or whatever. They said my stories about Harry Potter being a girl were sometimes good, but never went anywhere, or even had a coherent plot, for that matter. I told them would never understand. They didn't understand 'Pantsing'

    But then something happened to me. Life happened. I got married, had kids, and fought in a really confusing war/police action/offensive school building project. I finally realized that 'Pantsing' had no place in the regimented, scheduled life of adulthood. I realized 'Pantsing' was draining my creativity. Endlessly brainstorming and writing whatever came to my mind did not make me a writer; It made me a weirdo that gave writers a bad name, with their Akira eroticas and Pulp Fiction fan... fictions. So I quit. I found myself a good grammar book and a calendar.

    Now, I am a Planner.

    I've been a planner for six months straight now, and am closer to actually finishing a book, a full length novel, than I have ever been in my entire life. I have planned this entire book, and it is coming together exactly the way I want it. What's crazy, is giving up 'Pantsing' has actually made me more creative. Once the big details like setting, plot, and character are outlined and solidified, I can focus on all the little things like style, grammar, spelling, and 'the story making sense'. Pantsing was about writing ruling my life. Now, I rule the writing!

    I still write all the short stories and erotics (looking at you, Attack On Titan) but I write them as a part of a writing schedule. Little guilty pleasures enjoyed on special occasions. Life has never been so good, and I owe it all to planning

    My name is Bob, and I'm a Planner.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2016
  2. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    I've been thinkng I should start the same thing. I've got three potential novels and a short story, all stalled in the sub-10k range. Might could be time to stop writing cool scenes and figure out how they're connected first.
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some people definitely do better with more planning.

    But there are brilliant novels that have been written with some version of the "pantsing" style, so... probably it just wasn't a good fit for you, rather than an inevitable path to becoming "a weirdo that gave writers a bad name".
     
  4. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, no, Bob, we all have to admit we've got a problem. You should be saying:

    My name is Bob and I am a panster.
    <Hi, Bob.>
    It's been six months since I last pantsed.

    See how that goes?
    You've got to be careful with this stuff, Bob. Erotics and short stories are gateway writings. We're gonna have to assign you a sponsor so you don't backslide and start pantsing all over the place again. You don't wanna end up passed out in a heap of rejection slips.
     
  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    That's funny--I've seen other people on forums refer to themselves as "recovering pantsers".

    This obviously wasn't the case for the OP but I do wonder if writers somehow shy away from planning because they think it's more... idk... cool? to just make it up as they go. A bit like when you hear about savants who are incredible on the piano aged 4 and they are the real musicians, not the people who work hard at it for decades. They feel like they aren't innately talented writers if they can't just sit and type out an incredible novel from scratch.

    I also think the planner vs panster debate is not only a false dichotomy but is also given far too much headroom among writers and screen time in writing communities. It's just not important where we are on the continuum, but making it out to be some sort of us vs them camp introduces a strange competitive element where people feel the need to declare their allegiance to one side.

    I find the whole thing quite irritating.
     
  6. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I once wrote a short screenplay wherein the MC buys a magic typewriter that takes over his life, almost ruins his marriage and sees him in the grip of a 24/7 writing fervor. When his wife finally frees him from the muse, the final scene sees them sitting in his writing room amid stacks and stacks of novels he's written. And it's all great stuff, publishable stuff. But when his wife starts reading, she finds one of the novels starts with, "Now is the winter of our discontent." And the next, "Jack Torrence thought: officious little prick."

    It was called, Beware the Muse.
     
  7. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    Right, I missed this the first time through.

    Attack on Titan erotica?

    Ouch.
     
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  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yep. Odd, to me, how people feel the need to give those who do it "the other way" a bad name. The negative connotations in the OP toward pantsing is unfortunate, but not uncommon. And pantsers adopt similar rattitude toward planners. People should do what works for them. For many, it will vary from project to project and will often be a combination of both.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
  9. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I hope I didn't sound like I was insulting "pantsers"! I was musing on why some people try to pants when they can't, then see it as a sort of concession when they turn to planning, not saying that pantsers are trying to be cool.
     
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  10. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I just start with a concept and a few character models, then make up the whole of the story as I go (admittedly this has the downside of not having an established frame work, and can take longer as a result.).
    I like my freedom to not have a set path to follow. Gives a bit more freedom to be more spontaneous, kinda like an 'open sandbox' world if you will.

    Though I am not knocking the plansters, they have their reasoning as well for what/why they prefer their choice. You write the way you like, planned or by the skin of your ass.
    So I think on some level we all plan out some elements of a story, just some do way more planning than others.
     
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  11. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    This was posted in good humor. I love the pantsing vs planning debate, and try to mix advantages of both, as I understand them.

    For me personally, it's constantly a battle to not just go crazy with all sorts of wild ideas on character and plot, so learning how to plan out a story was a big deal for me.
     
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  12. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    This struck a chord with me because I never seem to get past the first bolt of inspiration stage. I'll have a great idea, or so it seems, for a scene that hints at more. Some ideas of the character. Some idea of the world. Sit down and bang out the scene, edit the scene, show the scene to friends, get the occasional compliment for the scene, get asked later "So, how's that Alien vs. Bodysnatchers thing going?" and have to admit that I've got nothing more. Time to learn either how to plot or to admit that I should just focus on short stories. Nothing wrong with either, but it would be cool to actually have written a novel, which means plotting and planning.
     
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  13. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    @Iain Aschendale I want to read the alien vs bodysnatchers thing.
     
  14. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    This debate reminds me of the 'One big pile of shit on the hard drive' v 'the several small piles of shit files' thread.
     
  15. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    It's actually a real story I'm working on, with the above-noted issues, once I get some more progress I'll put you on my quick-beta list.
     
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  16. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    I think years of... whatever that word you made up, must have had some effect.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah the debate is irritating because it can work both ways. I "pantsed" (or rather, semi-pantsed) most of the novel draft that I'm trying to finish - and that had goods and bads.

    Then I recently drew up an outline for a side-concept I started while the other one is stuck. That worked surprisingly well for that type of story, and that one is now easier to just sit and write than the other one, but it has it's own problems.

    The pantsed one is going to be way too long, too slow, and need cut. The outlined one, based on the feedback I've gotten on it, doesn't have enough exposition, is paced to fast, and would need lengthened. So it's pretty much an exact flip.

    It probably also has to do with the type of book - the one I'm pantsing is meant to be the start of an epic with lots of characters and complications, the outlined one is designed to be a much shorter book with a tight plot and a low target word-count. It's like baking a cake vs. making stir-fry. Both are food and both are technically "cooking" - but totally different processes aimed at different finished products.

    Someday I'll figure this stuff out, but really it's an individual process for everyone. :)
     
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  18. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    But I'm glad the OP found something that worked for them.
     
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  19. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Well, I'm a pantser, and I am desperately trying to be cool. ;) I have very little interest in writing something preplanned or outlined. For me, that gets boring. I like an unexpected twist or turn, and I have found it works best for me if I don't see it coming. It's kind of a rush to be working on a story and have no idea where it's going.
     
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  20. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I can't plan too much because it becomes a pit of procrastination for me. But if I don't have some direction I'm lost.
    Daydreaming keeps me on track.
     
  21. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm a pantser partly because I can't outline. I've tried, but no ideas come to me. Ideas only come when I'm actually writing the text of the story. I don't even know what my story is about - its themes and so on - until I've written the first draft. The second draft (and any subsequent drafts) are for correcting wrong turns, fixing pacing issues (I always have a problem with pacing) and bringing the themes into sharper focus.

    I suppose my first draft is really my outline.
     
  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I like that. Me too!

    I believe it's important to recognise what holds you back and what propels you forward as a writer. I'm speaking of 'you' as an individual writer, not 'you' as a generic term for writer.

    If your meticulous preplanning results in enthusiasm during the outlining stage, followed by deadened, uninspired actual writing (because you lose interest once you figure everything out), then try pantsing. If pantsing results in you not finishing what you start, or you end up with an unworkable mess, then maybe try planning a bit. Work both ends towards whatever middle gets the job done well.

    As in everything else having to do with writing, always go with what works. For you.
     
  23. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I love Betty Baxter and she can't be planned. It doesn't fit her personality.

    I pantsed my WIP and only added a touch of planning here at the very end. My short stories and poem were all written without planning. I stand by the outcome.

    It depends on who you are as a writer. And I am who I am.
     
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  24. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Daydreaming is everything in my writing. Without it, I'd just stare at the screen.
     
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  25. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It doesn't irritate me, but it seems silly to debate a premise for which there is no clear evidence supporting either side.
     
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