T. Dagarim's picture
T. Dagarim from Atlanta, GA November 16, 2015 - 7:36am

Until I joined this site recently, I wasn't even aware that the term "Pantser" existed. My understanding was that every good book must have an outline and a beginning, middle, and end planned out in advance. However, my writing never seemed to work out this way. I would be inspired by a single situation or character and begin writing. The unfortunate part of this scenerio is that I'm very often left with a single situation resolved and draw a blank for continuing the story.

I've also tried planning, by completing an outline of the entire story. This seems to have the side affect of me rushing through the outline, and being left with a seemingly bare bones story, with no real emotion.

I'd love to hear thoughts and opinions on each, and which one finds you the most prolific writer.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal November 16, 2015 - 2:16pm

You'll also want to google terms like "discovery writer" and "gardener" (George RRRRR Martin's term for it).

My experience, for what it's worth, was discovery-writing a story flat out, almost no idea where it was going. I didn't even get to the ending in the first draft, but it was exciting and fun like none other. After this is when I went back to plan and outline, a LOT of the plot was changed, and I found myself having to add quite a bit. I needed a mystery thread to the story, I added some characters, dropped some that never ended up doing anything, blah blah. I only made an outline after I wrote it to make sure things were pacing well, subplots and so on, and I don't go to the outline all the time because the story is so ingrained in my head anyway. (Product of re-reading and tweaking each chapter a hundred times. We kind of do that. A lot.)

That said, if I'm really having trouble writing the next step, sometimes I'll do a little bullet point outline just to organize it enough until I can say "oh, that makes sense finally" and then go write it. And see if the discovery writer in my doesn't change it.

The big problem most non-outliners have, I'm told and I'm finding, is that the endings tend not to be those big, perfect, everything comes together endings that we love. At least not at first, and it's harder for pansters to do.

So I'm guessing you're not big into outlining, which is fine. Some people outline tremendously, to the point that the story is practically written by the time they actually do prose. Most outliners aren't that rigid, but they have a pretty clear outline going in, and do a lot less revising. Brandon Sanderson describes his process like this, but he discovery-writes his characters to keep the freshness in his stories.

But it seems as I look around, and listen to authors, that the discovery type methods are more prevalent, maybe with just a little outlining (google "points on a map"). Sanderson also said when talking about it that most of the good authors he knew were better revisers than writers, so to speak. 

What else I find interesting is that a lot of authors (e.g. Stephen King) who are discovery writers have to cut because it goes long. I found the opposite to be true, I had the bare bones, barely, and needed to add.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami November 16, 2015 - 2:52pm

Well like my first novella used a sixteen chapter outline, where I did a seven point structure for every chapter. Nowadays I simply don't find this practical.

What I do now is something closer to what I did when I wrote Blood Of Katolinio. I would actually sketch out the main character on paper. So a lot of what the MC looks like is already done for me, it's just remembering to include the right details.

For example, the little thief girl who was executed for a theft the MC committed in his place coming to haunt him from beyond the grave, the picture I had was a pale white spirit with black hair over her eyes, and a brown drabby dress and clogs fitting for the roughly 14th century the dream was taking place that wasn't a nightmare at all.

So the picture itself was essentially complete. But I might only include the important details that would actually come up from pantsing the situation like the story evolve on its own.

If I had done this with Uploaded Fairy, you would end up with a 96,000 word novel instead of the 17,500 word novella because the story would go in directions I did not originally anticipate. Which is a thought i considered when doing future revisions.

And yes I'm an illustrator too.

DrWood's picture
DrWood from Milwaukee, WI, living in Louisiana is reading A different book every 2-5 days. Currently Infinite Jest November 17, 2015 - 9:34pm

I'm mostly a pantser.

When I start a story, I might only have a broad premise or a first scene in mind. However, I need to know the end pretty soon (and for a short story, that might mean when I come to it). For novels, I usually have  ideas for the climax and a few milepost scenes along the way pretty early in the writing (like day two).


T. Dagarim's picture
T. Dagarim from Atlanta, GA November 19, 2015 - 11:53am

Thanks for the feedback! I've been working for the past 4 years on a novel called "Walt.".To be honest, it's been the bane of my existence, because I'm so obsessed with writing it. I have all these great ideas for the MC, but much less idea of the actual arcs. I think the combination approach that was mentioned might be the best option for it. I'm going for it.

In the meantime, as a suggestion from another thread I started (for the sole purpose of complaining about how much I hate the writing of "Walt."), I decided to write a short story to get my creative juices flowing.

It's called Samael and the Almost Perfect, and I'd love a quick review on it if you have a moment.


L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami November 19, 2015 - 6:39pm

One final thought I'd add, writing should be about the journey not the end. If you find yourself not enjoying the journey, rethink the end your going for.

Writing a book should not make you feel miserable. Don't be like me, don't write one that makes you feel apathetic afterword.

But also love every bit of what you write, because only you can say no.

PizzaThirst's picture
PizzaThirst from THE MILKY WAY GALAXY is reading BROKEN PIANO FOR PRESIDENT, BY PATRICK WENSINK November 29, 2015 - 6:52am

I like the ones that just de-pantz. The ones completely removing the pants before showering.