Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's your process Blogfest

Shallee at Life, the Universe and Writing is hosting a great blogfest where each of us shares our writing process.

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I'm a pantster. I like to joke that the only thing writing an outline does is tell me one way things aren't going to end.

Okay, so I'll admit it's a little chaotic and not the most efficient way to write. I've written hundreds of pages that never made it into the final drafts of my books. I've had to backtrack here and there when I've gone off course, and many times I'm too in the thick of things to see the problems until I'm in revisions. Still, I wouldn't trade my method for anything else.

Here is why: My best plot ideas come from getting to know my characters and living their story with them. And, for me, the only way to do this is to write them into scenes and see what happens.

Now,  I (as a self-proclaimed pantster) have been accused by die-hard outliners of outlining in my head. *Gasp* I will admit that I usually am thinking a few scenes ahead in my mind. And I usually do have some vague idea of a few things that will happen and where/how things will end.

And there are three things I do that could be of practical use to other writers:

Research- research, research. Great plot ideas can come from info, theories and real-life accounts of people who do and/or have gone though things your characters do or are going through.

Scene Lists- I usually write these about three quarters into a book when various plot lines are starting to converge, I need to accomplish many things at once, and/or the timing is crucial. They are simple. The scene/event, who is there, and what needs to happen. No more than a line or two of notebook paper per scene.

Writing a Future Scene- Scenes in the book often come to me out of order. I will write those scenes then sort of use them as a trajectory to head for. Revisions are often needed...new plot elements come up and/or the characters have changed some by the time I make it to that scene, but it still helps move things along for me.

What about you? Pantster or Planner? What methods do you use?


  1. Sounds like you're quite the organized pantser! :) I'm a little bit of a hybrid, though I've eased closer to being a plotter. Like you, though, I find my story in my characters, and I don't often find my characters (even after a character sketch) until I write about them. My story often takes a pantser turn no matter how much I plan it out! Thanks for sharing your process.

  2. My best ideas come while writing, too. So, I allow myself to pants during the 1st draft. I do keep plot points I want to hit in my head.

  3. I'm a little of both. I have to know major plot points, but everything in between is made up as I go.

  4. It's hard for me to organize anything. It seems when I just write it, that's when the best stuff comes out. I've been trying to outline, but so far it frustrates me more than just pansting it.
    Have a great day!

  5. I'm totally a pantser too. I love that you write your characters in. I never know what mine are really going to be like until they are introduced. Sometimes they turn out totally different then my first impression was. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hi,

    From chaos can come order and, some of the best authors of thrillers are pantsers! ;)


  7. I used to be a pantser but now I'm a planner and I probably will never go back (but that's what works for me).

  8. I find it hard to be free-form when I'm writing. I'm impressed your system obviously works for you. I agree that the story is in the characters - all plots are similar but the best characters are unique. I find all I really need is a picture of the character.

  9. I love that you have to outline at the 3/4 stage. One of the other blogfest bloggers (sorry I can't remember who!) also said she does this. And I too (as a die hard pantster) do the same thing. I'm at this point with my WIP now. Maybe this is the Pantsters way of throwing in a bit of organisation.

  10. Hi Jennifer! Thanks for popping by my blog today. You know, I like your system. It sounds like a perfect blend:)

  11. I think pantsters are really cool. I'm a plotter in real life but a pantster at heart. Your process sounds really organic. I love the discovery process of writing your characters into scenes.

  12. Such an organized pantser method! I may have to try this for my next WiP--it sounds perfect!

  13. I'm a week late, but catching up on this blogfest now after I finally put my own entry up =)

    I'm much more of a plotter now, but for me each and every story starts with the characters too. :)

  14. I totally get your research...I think plotters would be shocked to know how much we write down with no actual plot escaping from our scribbles. Each character has an FBI file for me, I know why they hate chinese food and why they won't wear heels. I know who the third grade teacher was who made them love books and the who the guy in english was that broke their heart. They may never earn a line of type, these useless details, but they won't suddenly blow off the library for a chinese buffet. Knowing that stuff...lets you watch...lets you play God and type fast....lol