1. deadrats
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    deadrats Contributing Member

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    Pantsers -- When should you know what your story is about?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by deadrats, Jan 23, 2017 at 12:54 AM.

    So, you're pantsing your novel and everything is going great. At a certain point does the whole story seem to come to you or does it just continue to pour out 1k to 2k words at a time? Is it really important to know where your story is going? Can I just trust in the process that this will turn into a novel? Is it okay to have only a loose idea of what the story could be about and continuously be willing to change directions? At some point do you feel you need to firm up the plot? I want to surprise myself with this story. It's already happened a few times. I'm now contemplating a major overhaul of my existing pages to sort of change the course of the story, but I still don't really know where I'm going with it. I guess a lot of pantsing is really trusting your gut. How much do you trust your intuition? I really want this story to work, but it makes me a little nervous not to have more of a plan. Have you pantsed a whole novel? Were you happy with the results?
     
  2. AgentBen
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    AgentBen Member

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    A lot of writers avoid the use of the outline. Doing this allows you to make your story come naturally. As long as you have an ending you enjoy, you can revise the book later on. This includes things like firming you plot up, getting rid of holes.

    You should have a general idea of where you story is going or at least what it is about. I don't think it is normal to literally make everything up a you write, but if you want to add, say, a magical creature halfway through your book, then its okay.

    Writing with knowing fully where you are going can be a great way to do things. Just make sure to write don't eventual plot points you want and throwaway the ones you don't. Then bam, you have a sort of out line and you can wing it again.
     
  3. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    It depends on how complex the plot is. If it's pretty straightforward, you can pants your way through it with only minor revisions, then go back and rewrite everything so it makes sense afterward. Sometimes you can come up with good ideas that are hidden in your subconscious and only come out when you put fingers to the keyboard - it's happened to me.
     
  4. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    As an exercise a few years ago, I just sat down each day and, rather than waiting for something to come, I just started typing. Surprisingly, the story was more or less coherent. So, it's possible to just go for it and not worry about anything. Type and the story will come, in other words.
    I like to know the ending, but it's not always necessary for a first draft. It takes a lot of effort for me to write this way, but the effort is spent on keeping myself from second-guessing, freaking out and generally psyching myself out.
    Yes. Just don't expect to get there in one draft.
    Absolutely. In fact, the more you go off on tangents and trust in yourself to be able to clean it up later, the more surprising your story will be.
    This is second draft stuff. Don't worry about it for now.
    Me? Not so much that I don't wrestle with doubts. As I said earlier, most of my energy while pantsing is spent on shoving all those doubts aside so I know what my intuition is saying.
    Yes. Several in fact.
    No, but that's what second drafts are for... and third... and fourth, etc.

    Have I been happy with the raw material of a first draft? Yes, most definitely.

    Good writing is rewriting. Asimov is the only person I've ever heard of who claimed to be able to turn in a first draft and get no revisions notes. But he wrote more than 600 books in his lifetime and this ability only came about late in his career. I recently read an article wherein he talked about going through numerous drafts for one of his early works, and that's the gauge we should be using if any.

    For now, write, have fun and don't worry about what the final story will be.
     
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  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you still writing literary? For me, it's important to have a rough idea of how I want my novels to end, right from the start - and that's easy, if I'm writing romance (Happily Ever After) or Suspense (Bad Guys Caught) or whatever. But for literary? You wouldn't have as clear of an idea of the ending, maybe, which would make it harder to keep your plot pointing roughly in that direction.

    I'd say you should either figure out roughly how you want the story to end (assuming you haven't done that already) or else be prepared for some intense rewriting.
     

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