Tag Archives: plotting vs. pantsing

In which we discuss pantsing vs. plotting. AGAIN.

13 Nov

Have I been spending more time writing these than writing my novel? No, but the priorities have gotten a little skewed. I’m curtailing efforts in blogoland so that I can keep focus where it belongs. I’m still enjoying my novel, although I’m seriously going to try another soon, this time with real plotting beforehand. The pros of pantsing are the off-the-cuff absurdities that can sometimes bring a real life feel to the story. The cons are – everything else? I kid. And I’ve hit on this topic often enough already. Obviously, it’s on my mind. But I feel like if I’m going to understand the comparative benefits realistically, I have to give plotting a try. I’m thinking it might be more enjoyable in many ways, as I’m not second-guessing my knee-jerk creations throughout the entire work.

Well, Thanksgiving, Christmas, moving house, and maybe a little sleep are calling me. So long, kemosabes!


Plug in and let it rip!

11 Nov

I’m really not planning on a long post tonight, folks!


Tonight was fun. I’ve been dreading my next step, where John meets the Big Boss of this underground cadre (remember, the mole clan? Remember all those bad jokes? I ran out of ’em – oh, except to say that they’re really a ragtag bunch of chemists who – like measuring things? See why I didn’t use that one?). Was it going to be one guy? A group? A collective consciousness entity, channeled into an AI unit for the best of all possible intelligence within the group? Nah, too easy. So I just plugged in and let it rip. It ends up being a sort of hologram, formed by a pool of luminescent water that forms itself into a swirling column, and the figure inside is a four-legged, four-armed, four-headed composite of a male and female human, and (supposedly) a male and female alien.

So I got that goin for me, which is nice.

Voice recognition software saves the day (!) (?) ಠ_ಠ

5 Nov

So, I admit, I’m a little behind in my word count. Not far, but I do wish I were on top of things. Most of the other writers in the Epic Month of Blog Posts are sailing along, many far in excess of their quota.

Kudos to you, other writers! In all sincerity. (Take it when you can get it; it doesn’t show up often.)

I’m plodding through my world-building, right-turn story line at the moment, and it’s – uh, what’s the word?

Yeah, a lot like that. A lot of staring at the screen this past hour or so.

In an effort to increase speed, I decided to turn on my Dragon Naturally Speaking software. Anyone ever use this to write? This is my first time. I think I recommend it – if one has something to write, that is. I’ve used it plenty for recording handwritten stories, and the kinks are mostly worked out. It does type much faster than I can.

But it can’t help me figure out what to write next. And here’s that plotting issue again. Okay, I’m just going to call it “thinking about the story at times other than when you’re writing it”. Well, I’ll call it that this once. Now I’ll go back to calling it “plotting”.

But – but – I’m a stay-at-home dad! I just got the lyrics for “Never Smile At a Crocodile” out of my head half an hour ago! I’m lucky to have fifteen consecutive seconds for my own thoughts at any time before eight P.M.! Do you know how much world building you can do in fifteen second increments throughout the day? Exactly! Yo Gabba Gabba!

Seriously, for those of you who haven’t tried it, having kids will bestow you with daily discoveries of the bounds of sanity. Have you ever had a conversation that goes something like the following?

[Thinking to self, censoring for sake of innocent ears that cannot hear thoughts] “Where the heck is that credit card? I swanee to Jebus I just had it in my hand. Thirty seconds ago. Not even. Took it out of my wallet, set it down on my desk. Right there. Went to get the phone… I think I put it on my desk. Oh, Jiminy Christmas, I could have left it anywhere on the way to the phone.” [checks wallet for 7th time] “Maybe…” [checks all pockets for 7^2th time] “Gee willickers, I just…” [checks all horizontal surfaces within house googolplex times] “Fine. I’ve lost my mothersmurfin’ mind. There’s nothing left. I live in a haze of doubt and uncertainty. Wow, the next forty years are going to be a real crapshoot. I wonder how much longer I’ll be able to dress myself.”

[Small child, eyes full of wondrous possibility] “Daddy, look at my new bookmark! I found it on your desk!”

Some days it’s like that.

Not that I mind much.

(BTW, since I haven’t mentioned it yet, the whole “pantsing vs. plotting” issue was brought to light for me by Storywonk, a brilliant podcast to which I owe a great deal of my writing know-how. I’m not sure Lani and Alistair want that praise, but there it is. (BTBTW, I haven’t mentioned it because the only people that come to this site are probably all directly from Storywonk, since EpMoBloPo started in their forums. Now you know. (As if you didn’t before.)))

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!