Monday, October 28, 2013

Pantsing Versus Outlining

I'm an inveterate pantser. That is, for the most part, I write organically. I know the beginning of the story I'm writing, where it ends and sometimes a few of the key points along the way. For the rest I rely on my characters, who always appear before there's any hint of a story, and lead me on. Often they appear first in a short scene, maybe only as an image, then grow and develop until I know them well. All this happens before I have put a word of the story on the page.

For those writers who outline and structure rigorously this is anathema. "How can you not plan," they cry, but I've tried that and and it just doesn't work for me. If I try to fit what I'm writing into a tight plan the result is dull, unconvincing and, to put it bluntly, boring. The vibrant and fascinating characters I first met find themselves strangled by the ties of a predetermined plot but when I let them lose their story comes to life. Of course, they do tend to want to go off on their own adventures. Sometimes this is a good thing but, if necessary, I can always take them in hand when they stray too far. Usually though, it works out even if I do have a few surprises on the way.

Given my method - or lack of it some might say - I found this Writers Digest article by Steven James, where he gives some reasons why pantsing isn't necessarily bad, interesting. The links below the article are full of interesting ideas too.

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