Friday, February 8, 2013
Posted by Liane Gentry Skye
It's not that I haven't tried to plot. I've probably tried every method possible. Sometimes twice. But no matter how exhaustive the advanced planning, my beginning product and my end product have little to do with one another. Assuming I ever make it to the end.
For me, stories just happen. Slowly, but eventually. That (not so) endearing quality is what makes me known in author-land as a "pantser." As you've probably guessed, pantsers prefer to create stories without the benefit of an outline, or, by the seats of their pants. The problem with "pantsing" for me is that the lack of an exact writing plan feeds my tendency toward procrastination.
Only trial by fire has allowed me to keep the spontaneity in my writing that I love while disciplining myself enough to get to the end of a story within a reasonable time period. When I put some of these tips out on twitter ages ago, I got a few requests to post them.
Then someone from an old crit loop asked me to repost them. So, here they are.I hope you find them useful!
Ten Coping Strategies for (Certified) Pansters
Pantser Survival tip #1: If you know it, write the ending first & let characters drive you toward it.
Pantser Plotting tip #2: Write the scene burning bright in your mind. Print, put in a binder @ look often @ progression. Is a plot being born?
Panster plotting tip #3: What's the worst thing that could happen to your character right now? Make it happen. w/ gusto. :)
Pantser plotting tip #4: Happy characters don't dance for the muse. Throw every form of misery at them & make 'em sweat. On page 1. :)
Pantser plotting tip #5: Stuck? Double break, pick an obstacle: organic, inorganic, elemental, suprnatural or internal. Proceed w/ story.
Pantser plotting tip #6: (Thanks to author friend, Tracy Madison)Start w/ your hook, 2 plot turning points, ending. Split the story's action b/t 20 2K chapters for an 80K book. So, up to 20K sets up beginning, 20K marks first turning point, 40K turning second point, 60K final turning point/complication and on to resolution near 80K
Pantser plotting tip #7: No plot? No problemo! Just ask, what does your character want right now? Time to throw up a roadblock.
Panters Plotting tip #8: Let go and let Muse. Write a fast and dirty draft. It will all shake out in the revision. (Love this method, but involves mucho rewriting. Not good for looming deadlines!)
Pantser plotting tip #9: Read your latest work before going to sleep. Ask your subconsious work on it as you sleep. Strangely effective.
Pantser plotting tip #10. Open a new email. Summarize your story like you'r emailing a friend about great movie you saw. At the point of your story's block, write, "and then ___" (Fill in blank.)___ You can play w/ multiple scanarios here if you like.
And finally, the one Pantser plotting tip I rely on most often: Prayer. :) If this fails, move on to another story for a week. Then come back. New perspective can work miracles on even the most stubborn story.