The perils of pantsing

4 Nov

Oy vey, I get such a headache from always coming up with these scenarios!

Seriously, writers, do yourself a favor: Plot. Be plotters. Don’t be a pantser. I thought I was a genius and could come up with brilliant solutions at every turn, but it turns out I’m a shmuck.

Wait, you say, that’s not true! You like pantsing specifically because you don’t want John to be able to come up with brilliant, well-considered solutions at the drop of a hat! When he’s got rabid pursuit behind and a flimsy barricade ahead, you want him to just blast the barricade, not pull some MacGyver magic and fashion his picnic blanket into a cloaking device! Yeah, you’d say that, dear fictitious reader. Oh, fictitious reader, you know me so well.

You’re right though: that is the approach I appreciate when it comes to throwing John to the wolves for the 42nd time. Turns out John’s life of late has been pretty pantsy.

But, maaann, when it comes to world-building, pantsing gets to be an iffy proposition! I’m making some pretty crazy shit up on the spot here, stuff I gotta perpetuate throughout the rest of the book! Since I threw John down a hole, I had to give him something to do down there. Apparently this world has mole-people. Hear that, people of Earth? In the future, not only will most of your planet be inhospitable, causing the vast majority of you to live in satellite or planetary colonies, but some of the ones of you that do tough it out here will really know your way around the ol’ subterranean strata.

Yeesh. I just want to avoid any “Matrix” Zion overtones. Or “Planet of the Apes”. Or “THX 1138.” Or – who am I kidding; I’m not going to get bent out of shape trying to reinvent the wheel. This is going to be what it is.

But what is it? Seriously, can someone tell me? It would be really great if I didn’t have to make it all up myself. I know whatever I come up with is going to bite me in the ass twenty-five pages later. Oh, Philip K. Dick, I shall burn some mescaline on your altar if you’ll show me How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later.

Help me out: Where do I go next? Just who is this person that just pulled John out of the line of fire, and into the coven?

Wait, what? Ooh, yeah. Goin’ with that. Underground witches. In my pulp sci-fi novel.

What could go wrong?

Ubik, take me away!

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