Apparently, I’m a Pantser.
Not sure what that means? I wasn’t either when I first read that today… when my friend Wren called me one. But then she explained and you know what? She’s right.
When I write, I pretty much fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. A Pantser. Of all the names I’ve been called in life, I guess that one’s not so bad. Especially because she was right. She suggested that I explain my writing process, since it is so much different from hers and she blogged about her own today. So, here you go.
I get an idea. A kernel, a tiny grain. Usually when I’m doing something lame like doing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom or taking a walk. It usually pops into my head when I’m doing something calming or monotonous. And it’s typically about a character. I’m very much a character writer. I start with a vague idea of what personality that character will have, what personality attributes and it grows until I can see his or her face in my mind. The more I think about it, the better I can see it, the more I see what kind of person he or she is.
The plot comes second for me. I start thinking about what kinds of trouble/adventure/angst/drama/love/hate/relationships that character would get involved in.
And then I start writing.
And that’s it. Sort of.
Because, like my friend Wren pointed out… since she’s a Planner (as opposed to my “Pantser”), she sits down and plots out every single thing that will happen in her novel. Before she writes it. That’s like… unfathomable to me. I mean, how does she know what kind of person her character is going to evolve into if she doesn’t let it organically develop? Right?
But her way has benefits. Because since she knows where her plot is going to go, she can work tiny details into her storyline as she goes along. Me? I have to go back and add them in later, after I have developed the story line. Do you know what that means?
Revisions. A lot of them. A LOT of them.
Wren puts in all of her work at the beginning… hours of note taking, plot outlines, etc. Me? I get an idea and run with it. But I spend hours going back and adding details as my characters grow. She puts her work in on the front side and I put mine in on the back.
I’m not more creative than she is, and she isn’t more organized than I am. Actually, she’s pretty darn creative and I’m pretty dang organized. It’s just the way we’re wired to write. I need to let my characters grow so that I can get to know them and she needs to lock everything down before she starts.
But I’ll tell you something. I tried it her way last night. I sat down and sketched a rough outline of the first five chapters of the sequel to Every Last Kiss. And it wasn’t so horrible. It gives me a guide to cling to as I go along, which will probably make my writing faster… making me more prolific. And meaning… wait for it… LESS revisions. Hallelujah! So, I might try it a little more. From time to time. I know myself, and I know that I won’t always be patient enough to do it. I’m going to want to start off at a break-neck pace so that I can get my ideas down onto paper before they disappear.
And that’s okay. We all do what works for us because basically, what it boils down to is… neither way is right or wrong. It’s just what kind of writer you are. And it takes all kinds.