a pantsers tell when she tried to outline

What's going on in your writing world? Connect with the writing community here and talk about whatever's on your mind.
mike m.
Master Sergeant
 
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:11 pm

a pantsers tell when she tried to outline

Postby mike m. » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:13 pm

Thinking About Outlining Your Novel? One Pantser’s Story

I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer. I’ve been at this business professionally for over a decade now, and every single one of my manuscripts–published or not–has been written one scene at a time, with no more guideline than a general knowledge of structure.

For years, Katie and I have been on the opposite ends of the spectrum where it comes to outlining. She’s an avid outliner; I’ve evolved into a hesitant hybrid. She’s right about where my fear of outlining comes from: visions of the rigid structure, complete with Roman numerals and indented letters and numbers, that we–in my generation, at least– learned in school. Rigidity and creativity don’t mix.

A New Take on Outlining Your Novel
Outlining Your Novel WorkbookBut when you think about outlining your novel as free-writing, as scribbling whatever comes to mind in response to structured questions–and sometimes not-so-structured questions–it makes a difference. Wakes the muse, gets the creativity flowing. After you’ve gone through a period of creating what, in all appearances, seems to be river sludge and start picking out the gold nuggets, it’s amazing how quickly things start to develop.

Granted, I did have the same trouble outlining as I do in seat-of-the-pants writing–what to do with that saggy middle? Happens every time I sit down to write: I know the beginning and I know the end, but getting from point A to point B always threatens my meager sanity.

The benefit of outlining your novel is, when something doesn’t work, I simply tear up the index card and start over. In writing, I’d have to rip out entire scenes, then backtrack to change whatever went with them. It didn’t take long–seriously, how long does it take to paint the segment and hit delete?–but it was still a greater and more frustrating effort than just scratchin’ out the scribbles or tearin’ up the card.

My Former Pantsing Defense Meets an Outline That Works
My primary defense of being a pantser was that, when I was done, I had a complete novel ready to edit. Outliners have an outline ready to be turned into a novel, which is then ready to be edited. I figured I saved a few steps. And, in my defense, it does take Katie longer to get a novel out than it does me.

But in her defense, her novels are more complicated than mine.

Give the Lady a Ride Linda YezakI currently write romance, a genre whose key elements are dictated by time and tradition: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back, and they live happily ever after.

The challenges for writing are still there for me, because I still have to imagine an entire story world in which all these wonderful events to take place; characters have to be developed; and the conflict defined, executed, and resolved. But because the elements are the same (yes, it’s formulaic writing–a time-proven formula that works for its readers), I don’t have to spend time making up my own.

And because those elements are the same, if I outlined the rest, I can produce more novels more quickly than I do when I write by the seat of my pants.

Believe me, I was surprised too.

So, early results about outlining? I like it.

Pass the crow.

User avatar
ostarella
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 591
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:51 am

Re: a pantsers tell when she tried to outline

Postby ostarella » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:55 am

It worked for her. Doesn't for others. I've never had to throw out a full chapter or scene, or had to go back and "fix" something because I pay attention to what's already happened when I write the next scene or chapter. The closest I've come is a few times I've wanted to experiment, so I wrote a scene and gave it to my betas - some they liked, some they didn't, and I decided from there whether to keep it or not.

If you look at this list of pantsers below, you'll see a wide variety of genres and a wide variety of "complicated" (anyone who's read McCaffrey's series, for example, clearly understands that very complicated can excellent without an outline). My own writing ranges from very short and simple to very long and complicated - no outlining.

Anne McCaffrey, David Morrell, Dean Koontz, Diana Gabaldon, Donna Gillespie, G Benson, Gary D Schmidt, George RR Martin, Gillian Flynn, Ian Rankin, J.A. Jance, Jane Graves, Jayne Denker, John Le Carre, Lee Child, Margaret Atwood, Nora Roberts, Pierce Brown, Ray Bradbury, Robert Dugoni, Stephen King
Formerly shadowwalker
http://www.writersdigest.com/forum/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=26159

http://writerswriting.proboards.com/forum

mike m.
Master Sergeant
 
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:11 pm

Re: a pantsers tell when she tried to outline

Postby mike m. » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:14 am

[quote="ostarella"]It worked for her. Doesn't for others. I've never had to throw out a full chapter or scene, or had to go back and "fix" something because I pay attention to what's already happened when I write the next scene or chapter. The closest I've come is a few times I've wanted to experiment, so I wrote a scene and gave it to my betas - some they liked, some they didn't, and I decided from there whether to keep it or not.

If you look at this list of pantsers below, you'll see a wide variety of genres and a wide variety of "complicated" (anyone who's read McCaffrey's series, for example, clearly understands that very complicated can excellent without an outline). My own writing ranges from very short and simple to very long and complicated - no outlining.

Anne McCaffrey, David Morrell, Dean Koontz, Diana Gabaldon, Donna Gillespie, G Benson, Gary D Schmidt, George RR Martin, Gillian Flynn, Ian Rankin, J.A. Jance, Jane Graves, Jayne Denker, John Le Carre, Lee Child, Margaret Atwood, Nora Roberts, Pierce Brown, Ray Bradbury, Robert Dugoni, Stephen King[/quote]
=======

you are the rare exception
maybe if you did throw out some stuff your work would be better

User avatar
ostarella
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 591
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:51 am

Re: a pantsers tell when she tried to outline

Postby ostarella » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:33 am

[quote="mike m."]you are the rare exception
maybe if you did throw out some stuff your work would be better[/quote]

Obviously you're ignoring that list (again) of successful pantsers - much easier to close your eyes and pretend your dogma hasn't been disproved, isn't it? I'm not the exception - I'm not the rule either because there are NO RULES about methodology. And since you haven't bothered to actually critique any of my work, you have no clue as to what you think I should throw out or whether it would make it better. On the other hand, my work was beta'd (including by two trade published authors with multiple books out there) and I got great reviews after I posted them. So yeah, I'm going to give your thoughts serious consideration :lol:
Formerly shadowwalker
http://www.writersdigest.com/forum/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=26159

http://writerswriting.proboards.com/forum

User avatar
pls
Site Admin
 
Posts: 9275
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 6:52 am

Re: a pantsers tell when she tried to outline

Postby pls » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:43 am

mike - I've asked you nicely to stop commenting on fiction writing and pantsing, both of which you've clearly revealed you know nothing about. Now I'm ordering you to do so, or I'll take action. I am not going to allow you to continue to mislead the readers of this forum any longer.
Facebook page (Friend me!): http://www.facebook.com/TheHighSchoolNovels

mike m.
Master Sergeant
 
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:11 pm

Re: a pantsers tell when she tried to outline

Postby mike m. » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:48 pm

(deleted by pls after doing exactly what I told him not to do -pls.

User avatar
ostarella
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 591
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:51 am

Re: a pantsers tell when she tried to outline

Postby ostarella » Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:04 pm

I have written to deadline and to word count. And I didn't do it wasting time with an outline first. And again - since you're so good at research - just do a simple google of that list of writers I posted. Tell them they failed. Tell them they couldn't meet a deadline or work to word count. Tell them they're starving. Tell them they've just been playing at writing. I'm sure they'll be glad to know they've been living a delusion.
Formerly shadowwalker
http://www.writersdigest.com/forum/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=26159

http://writerswriting.proboards.com/forum

User avatar
wdarcy
Major
 
Posts: 1685
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:13 pm

Re: a pantsers tell when she tried to outline

Postby wdarcy » Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:55 pm

That's a great list, Shadowwalker. To it you could add the names of Steven James and Brenda Novak. Brenda once told me that when she writes a murder mystery she herself doesn't know who the killer is until she reaches the end of the novel.

Yeah, it's a crying shame these poor authors don't realize they failed to write the correct way. Reminds me of a nineteenth-century music critic who once lamented the fact that Richard Wagner never learned the correct way to compose. :D

--Warren
"Wagner's 'Das Rheingold'" (Oxford 1993). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 1995.

"Elements of Sonata Theory" co-authored with James Hepokoski(Oxford 2006). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 2008.

User avatar
ostarella
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 591
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:51 am

Re: a pantsers tell when she tried to outline

Postby ostarella » Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:08 pm

[quote="wdarcy"]That's a great list, Shadowwalker. To it you could add the names of Steven James and Brenda Novak. Brenda once told me that when she writes a murder mystery she herself doesn't know who the killer is until she reaches the end of the novel.
--Warren[/quote]

Done. :D
Formerly shadowwalker
http://www.writersdigest.com/forum/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=26159

http://writerswriting.proboards.com/forum

mike m.
Master Sergeant
 
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:11 pm

Re: a pantsers tell when she tried to outline

Postby mike m. » Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:46 pm

[quote="ostarella"]I have written to deadline and to word count. And I didn't do it wasting time with an outline first. And again - since you're so good at research - just do a simple google of that list of writers I posted. Tell them they failed. Tell them they couldn't meet a deadline or work to word count. Tell them they're starving. Tell them they've just been playing at writing. I'm sure they'll be glad to know they've been living a delusion.[/quote]
=========

i am sure that you did do that

outlines are bad
organising is good

too many people confuse the two

and whether you need to organise and how much depends on the deadline, topic, and length of piece to be written

when it is something short i will admit to pantsing it although in reality i have the outline in my head as a guide

Next

Return to Writers' Block Party

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests