1. vineet
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    vineet New Member

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    I am afraid to admit but I think I am a pantser. What shall I do to become a decent plotter?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by vineet, Nov 28, 2014.

    Aren't there any famous pantser Novelists? Are all of them a brilliant plotter?
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually don't check to see who plots and who doesn't. I don't, and don't understand why you titled your thread the way you did. Do you think you're supposed to be a plotter to be a good writer? Disabuse yourself of that idea immediately, if not sooner. You do whatever works best for you. The only people I've found who really care about method - especially other people's - are writers. Everyone else cares about the final product.
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think pantsers (like I was when writing my first novel) take longer to shape their stories. It's only after they're finished that they see what the story actually is. However, these stories can be richer and more unexpected because of the diversions. Many of these diversions either become part of the story, focus the story ...or need to be removed. So if you're a pantser, it's going to take longer to get a honed product.

    Because of the nature of the beast (it's a direct sequel and I know what the end will be) my new novel has a general outline. It's probably going to take a lot less time to finish, but I'm not finding the writing as much fun as it was the first time. Instead of over-writing, I find I'm under-writing, in a big hurry to get to the next plot point. I think this is going to need a lot of expansion after the draft is finished.

    It's interesting to have done (or be doing) both. I don't know. I won't really have a firm opinion till both are finished. But right now ...pantsing produced a story I'm very proud of. It remains to be seen if the more ordered outline model of writing will do the same.
     
  4. vineet
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    vineet New Member

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    You are not alone on this. But, how to overcome this issue?
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think it's a matter of overcoming anything. It's just accepting that with pantsing you will end up with lots you won't ultimately use. It just takes longer, that's all. But I think the more you create, the more you give yourself to work with. If you're just zazzing along from point A to point B, you won't get potential story gold from your diversions—because there won't be any diversions.

    There is nothing wrong with pantsing. Nothing at all. It just takes longer to reach the finish line.
     
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  6. vineet
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    vineet New Member

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    I think that a good novelist has to be a brilliant plotter. How else can we get such masterpieces like- The Fountainhead, The Alchemist, The Shining, The Hunger Games series , Game of Thrones, Harry Potter series, etc.

    I am not talking about average breeding novels here. To make a name in history you ought to be a perfectionist or at least try to be like one and I believe that has everything to do with excellent planning and plotting.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2014
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You have a very narrow way of seeing writing. If there's one thing I've learnt about writing, it is this:

    There's no "one correct way" to do things. There's none. Zip. Zero. So, sorry to burst your bubble, but no, you do not have to be an excellent plotter to be an excellent writer.

    You do have to be an excellent editor to be an excellent writer, however.

    The magic is in the rewriting and editing. What does it matter if you plotted or not, if you edit, rewrite, and polish it till it makes perfect sense and till every element hones in on what you want to convey? Do you think by virtue of simply plotting you'd get a polished draft? No. It was the editing process that made the stories great. Plotting or not is besides the point.

    Stephen King is notoriously a pantser, as far as I know. Now I personally don't actually like his writing, but we can't argue with his success, can we?

    However, I think it also depends on what you're wanting to write.

    For example, you want a fantasy world as intricate as LOTR, or intrigue and mystery like Game of Thrones - then yes, you do have to plan. But it seems those guys might be far more into world building than plotting per se. They're quite different. If you wanted to write a clever crime story or mystery, then I think planning can serve you well.

    But in the end, every writer's different. To narrow yourself to "Well if I'm not plotting, then I'm not a good writer" - that's bull, sorry. Look at your own work and tell me if it's good or not. If it's not, keep practising and figure out if plotting is something you personally need to make a good story. Maybe plotting can help you specifically, but that doesn't mean it's for all writers. But the truth is, is there something you're unhappy with in your current work? And if your stories are working out just fine by pantsing, then what's the problem?

    The end goal is to have an enjoyable story that you love and that hopefully others are going to love too. Just how you get there is flexible and entirely up to you. There's no one method to achieve greatness. You don't think we'd all be great writers already if there were? If there were one method guaranteed to achieve greatness, we'd know about it by now and we'd all be the next Shakespeare. But we're not. Because writing is fluid and more like a plant than it is like a house. Don't hold onto it too tightly, let it breathe and wander a little, but guide it back to the course you need it to go with a gentle hand, and see what comes out of it. There's no one right way to write. And if your little flower blooms in the end, who the hell cares how you got there?
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    @Mckk is absolutely spot-on. She says:
    That is exactly right. How you arrive at your finished product is what matters.

    You don't have to have a great plot in place when you begin, but you will need to have one by the time you finish. The other side of the coin is also true. You might have a fantastic plot in place, but if your characters are flat, your settings are boring and you have no emotional connection to what's happening, the book will fail. All the elements need to be there - plot, character, setting, emotional impact. It doesn't really matter which elements you start with.

    Think of drawing the human figure. Does it really matter whether you start with an outline of the whole figure or with a detailed portrait of the face, or the angle of the hand? Once your picture is completed, nobody is going to know how you got there.
     
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  9. vineet
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    vineet New Member

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    Thank you so much for your deep insight, boy! that was some lesson. However, some part of your explanation has definitely hit a different curiosity button within my mind- "satisfaction".
    How will I know, I have written something great? For Instance, you don't like Stephen King's work but other people do.
    The ultimate question remains- "Who will be the true judge of your work cause I know there are people out there who will like even the lamest of shittiest cliches while others will tear you apart through their criticism even if you have managed to produce a real gem".

    Another thing which bugs quite often - " Doesn't editing a lot and all the rework somewhat decrease our satisfaction level? I have found this to be very true for me, dunno about others..."
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I can't speak for others, but I had the biggest hugest rush of pleasure when I finished my first unedited draft. I've just had an equal one recently, finishing my final edit, which has taken years to do. I derive my satisfaction from a finished product I can be proud of.

    As to appeal, you MUST get your head around the fact that not everybody is going to like what you write. Can you think of ANY published author, past or present, whom EVERYBODY likes? Nope, neither can I.

    The trick is to figure out who your target audience is, and make sure you please those people. (Beta readers, who read your early drafts, will be a pointer in this direction.) Forget the rest of the world's readership. Lots of them won't like what you do, no matter what—unless you decide to write a completely different story in a completely different style. Then you'll risk losing your original target audience.

    The best advice I've ever received—and I do mean the best—on this issue is this: Write the story you would want to read yourself.
     
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  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd just like to point out that no, it doesn't necessarily take longer to get a story completed if you're a pantser. You do not have to end up with one hot mess that needs massive editing and rewriting and revision. I firmly believe that any given author will take X amount of time to write their novel - the method doesn't mean anything in terms of time. A plotter will spend time writing the outline that the pantser spends actually writing the story. One who edits as they go will spend as much time editing as someone who waits until they've written the first draft; it's only a difference of when they edit. An author may take six years to write one novel and six weeks to write another.
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I personally think far too much ado is made of planning vs. pantsing. It's just one of those things. We all work differently.
     
  13. James Random
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    James Random Member

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    I think from reading this I can identify the inner-pantser within myself. Is it an inherently bad trait to have?
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    No, it is not. My belief is that every self-proclaimed pantser plans more than they would admit, and that every self-proclaimed planner just wings it way more than they are aware of.

    I think of myself as a planner, but I know I pants it all the time. I'm not flying anyone's bumper sticker on this one.
     
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  15. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I had to look through at least 4 different (web-based) dictionaries to find the word 'pantser'... :wtf:

    At least I now know that I'd probably be considered to be one (to some extent, anyway).
     
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  16. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I'm a 'pantser', and proud of it. My brain doesn't deal well with elaborate planning and outlining, but I seem to get the job done.
     
  17. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    We should all just be like M-Stoph in _Faust_.
     
  18. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nothing wrong with pantsing. It's the way I've written anything my whole life. When I was a kid and we had long-term reports, etc. that we had to write, and we had to outline along the way or include an outline to show what we did, I either did the outline after the fact, just because we had to show an outline, or, if we were to turn it in early, to show we were working on the project, I made something up completely, that had little relation to how my report ended up.
     
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  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Ha ha! That's funny. I used to do the same thing. I always wrote my report first, then did the required outline. I thought I was being uniquely clever, but apparently not. :)
     
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  20. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    There is another advantage to pantsing that nobody has really mentioned - so I will. If you're scared of starting to write, pantsing is a lot less strictured. You can just start by writing a scene, any scene, and see how it goes. You might find certain aspects of it come easier than you think, and some aspects might lead you into an even better story than you originally envisioned. It's a good way to test your writing waters.

    If you've got a huge outline all planned, character sheets to hand, maps drawn, timeline produced, and you still haven't started writing, you might be finding it difficult to actually make that jump from planning to producing the actual prose. If that's the case—if you find yourself staring at mountains of pre-work, and then finding excuses to do even bigger mountains of pre-work rather than actually starting the writing process—pantsing might be a solution. It's an ice-breaker, for sure.
     
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  21. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Couldn't it be that we were just both uniquely clever?
     
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  22. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's nothing wrong with pantsing/discovery/organic writing - or with plotting/outlining - UNLESS it keeps you from finishing. Then you need to find some other method.
     
  23. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with this, with the slight adjustment of finishing and producing something of good quality.

    There are times I've pantsed when I should have plotted, and it left me dissatisfied with the end result - the finished story was looser than I wanted, and I couldn't think of any way to fix it without essentially rewriting the whole story.

    And there are other times I've pantsed and it's all come out just fine.

    But just finishing, if you finish but the work isn't as good as it could be, isn't enough, I don't think.
     
  24. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it depends on where one is with their writing. For a new writer, learning to finish is more important than the quality of that finished product. Once they learn not to just dump one and start another, they can start working on quality issues. I've seen really good writers who could never finish anything - and it was a darn shame, for them and for readers.
     
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  25. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that's probably true.

    At the same time, I've seen too many writers who seem to get stuck at that stage, where they're finishing things but not getting published or meeting whatever other goals they have, and they don't want to change their approach because "it works". And I think they mean "it works" because they're getting things finished, while I'd say it doesn't really work because the finished product isn't as good as they want it to be.

    And changing from plotter to pantser or vice versa may not do a damn thing to make their writing better (or more marketable, or whatever), but it might. Changing something might make things better, at least. And I see a lot of writers who seem very set in their ways in terms of how they write, and who are simultaneously frustrated by not getting the success they want.

    Isn't there some pithy saying about that? The definition of xyz is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

    Does that make any sense?
     
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