a pantsers take on plotting

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mike m.
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a pantsers take on plotting

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

Writing a Novel to the End: Writing by the Seat of Your Pants
The number of articles I’ve written on plotting might give the impression I’m against organic writing, or as it is more popularly termed, pantsing. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The hybrid writing process that I most often use, described in How to Write a Novel by the Numbers, benefits from both methods.

I’m not a stickler for any one system, not even my own. I am currently pantsing the third book of my epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, and also writing a proposal for an intricately-plotted mystery novel. I consider myself uniquely positioned to advise writers who plot and also those who don’t.

Why do I teach so much on plotting? Because, whatever writing process you claim, it’s important to understand story structure. The sage advice that you need to know the rules before you break them is never more true than when you are writing a novel.

Writing By the Seat of Your Pants via @JanalynVoigt | Live Write Breathe
Pantsing can’t be taught, but it can be guided. I’ve noticed certain commonalities among those who write by the seat of the pants and can offer the following tips.

Quiet your inner editor. Without stopping to edit, you’ll complete your manuscript more quickly. Speed is important because you’ll be carrying a lot of details in your head. The longer it takes you to write the story, the harder it will be to remember them all.
Write in marathons. Rather than writing at a steady pace, clearing as much uniterrupted time as possible facilitates your writing the first draft quickly. This prevents the disruption to your focus that even a small interruption can bring.
Don’t let the story go cold. Sometimes you can’t avoid being called away to work on other projects, but afterwards it can be very difficult to pick up the story thread.
Try to have at least some research done in advance. You probably won’t know everything you’ll need to research at this point, but the need to stop and research can throw off a writing sprint. Guarding against that happening as much as possible is a good idea.
Don’t stop for research that won’t determine the plot direction. Only stop to research vital information. Bold print passages you need to check and do the research on the second pass.
When you get stuck, skip to the next scene, if possible. Mark the uncompleted scene or passage to fix in your second pass.
Jot things to fix on a notepad or on the first page of the manuscript. Write a quick reminders of what needs fixing while you’re immersed in the creative process and you’ll thank yourself during the editing process.
Writing by the seat of the pants can be a rewarding adventure or a dismal flop. If you’ve started a lot of stories with enthusiasm only to reach a place where you just couldn’t go on, you’ll know what I mean. Unless you weave stories as prolificly as spiders spin webs, attempting seat-of-the-pants writing without understanding how to plot a novel in three acts could lead to stalls and frustration. Pantsing, when successful, which is rarely successful, can let you create a story closely resembling the spark that ignited it.

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ostarella
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Re: a pantsers take on plotting

Postby ostarella » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:41 am

"Quiet your inner editor. Without stopping to edit, you’ll complete your manuscript more quickly. Speed is important because you’ll be carrying a lot of details in your head. The longer it takes you to write the story, the harder it will be to remember them all."

----- Not necessarily. A lot of writers edit as they go, very successfully. Ideas are okay, but if they're that important, they'll be remembered. Or - gasp - one can make a quick note and get back to the story without worrying about remembering anything. Probably half those ideas will never be used in the story anyway, plotter or pantser. Speed and not editing can simply mean wasted time after the story's completed, so no, this is not a given.

"Write in marathons. Rather than writing at a steady pace, clearing as much uniterrupted time as possible facilitates your writing the first draft quickly. This prevents the disruption to your focus that even a small interruption can bring."

----- This is not necessarily true for any writer, plotter or organic. Most writers I've spoken with over the last nearly 15 years say you find the time to write, whether it's 15 minutes or 15 hours. And again, speed is not of the utmost importance.

"Don’t let the story go cold. Sometimes you can’t avoid being called away to work on other projects, but afterwards it can be very difficult to pick up the story thread."

----- Again, not related only to organic writers.

"Try to have at least some research done in advance. You probably won’t know everything you’ll need to research at this point, but the need to stop and research can throw off a writing sprint. Guarding against that happening as much as possible is a good idea."

----- If you want to write about something you know you don't know much about, then basic research before starting can keep you from writing about something you discover you actually have no interest in. But I've never found stopping for research to be detrimental - most of the time it adds fuel because of the additional possibilities it opens up.

"Don’t stop for research that won’t determine the plot direction. Only stop to research vital information. Bold print passages you need to check and do the research on the second pass."

----- Again, more wasted time going back to re-do what could have been fixed right off the bat. Those bolded passages could contain the biggst plothole this side of Florida, and then you end up with all kinds of revisions and rewrites. I prefer to do it right the first time.

"When you get stuck, skip to the next scene, if possible. Mark the uncompleted scene or passage to fix in your second pass."

----- How can you move on to the next scene if you haven't figured out how the previous one works? Again, I'd rather take a break, relax, let the brain do its thing, rather than go from point A to point C when I have no idea what happened at point B.

"Jot things to fix on a notepad or on the first page of the manuscript. Write a quick reminders of what needs fixing while you’re immersed in the creative process and you’ll thank yourself during the editing process."

----- She definitely seems to believe the "creative process" is a capricious beast that cannot possibly be contained or trained.

"Writing by the seat of the pants can be a rewarding adventure or a dismal flop. If you’ve started a lot of stories with enthusiasm only to reach a place where you just couldn’t go on, you’ll know what I mean. Unless you weave stories as prolificly as spiders spin webs, attempting seat-of-the-pants writing without understanding how to plot a novel in three acts could lead to stalls and frustration. Pantsing, when successful, which is rarely successful, can let you create a story closely resembling the spark that ignited it."

----- Yeah, I've known plenty of plotters who suddenly lose their enthusiasm at some point in a given story. And, just like organic writers, they either figure out how to get going again or pop it in the drawer and start something else.

As to having to know the three act structure - poppycock. The Greeks and Romans didn't have 3 acts. Aristotle said there was a beginning, a middle, and an end (which is kind of a "DOH" since everything has those). He didn't say there were three acts. Who did? People in theaters who knew their audiences needed breaks and advertisers for films (who actually like 7 acts to get their money's worth of advertising time).

But of course, taking advice about organic writing from someone who a) thinks it's "rarely successful" and b) obviously doesn't recognize the variety of organic methods is like taking landscaping advice from someone who's done yard work.

mike m.
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Re: a pantsers take on plotting

Postby mike m. » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:13 am

you should write a book
because you clearly think you know everything

editing while you write is easily proven to waste time

exception
those who just write stream of consciousness crapola in some pretentious manner

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ostarella
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Re: a pantsers take on plotting

Postby ostarella » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:25 am

[quote="mike m."]you should write a book
because you clearly think you know everything

editing while you write is easily proven to waste time

exception
those who just write stream of consciousness crapola in some pretentious manner[/quote]

Again, you say its "easily proven" but will you ever show that proof? Nope - because there is none; only opinions or anecdotes from the people who couldn't do it. Read my stories - edited as I went, every one of them. No outline. One draft. 5-10 page chapter every day, completely done. Every story.

That's the difference between doing and just reading about doing.

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Re: a pantsers take on plotting

Postby rob-lost » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:44 am

@mike m
Why did you post this?

What's accomplished by responding so aggressively to ostarella?

I was thinking, for a moment, that you were welcoming critique. But after your response to ostarella, you've left me thinking not.

You don't have to accept her critique, but you had no professional reason to respond as you did, either.
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mike m.
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Re: a pantsers take on plotting

Postby mike m. » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:51 pm

[quote="ostarella"][quote="mike m."]you should write a book
because you clearly think you know everything

editing while you write is easily proven to waste time

exception
those who just write stream of consciousness crapola in some pretentious manner[/quote]

Again, you say its "easily proven" but will you ever show that proof? Nope - because there is none; only opinions or anecdotes from the people who couldn't do it. Read my stories - edited as I went, every one of them. No outline. One draft. 5-10 page chapter every day, completely done. Every story.

That's the difference between doing and just reading about doing.[/quote]
======

there you go again

i did DO it
in the real world
and i made a living with it

i saw what worked and i saw what failed

if you want proof then open your eyes and see what professional writers do
and stop using logical fallacies like a handful of pantsers proves it is better cause they did it that way

most of the so called successful writers on your list i never heard of

mike m.
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Re: a pantsers take on plotting

Postby mike m. » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:52 pm

[quote="rob-lost"]@mike m
Why did you post this?

What's accomplished by responding so aggressively to ostarella?

I was thinking, for a moment, that you were welcoming critique. But after your response to ostarella, you've left me thinking not.

You don't have to accept her critique, but you had no professional reason to respond as you did, either.[/quote]
====

ostarella is the aggressive one

i have an open mind
but only to facts
not anecdotes or opinions

rob-lost
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Re: a pantsers take on plotting

Postby rob-lost » Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:31 pm

You didn't answer my questions.

Okay, no answer, in this case, IS an answer. I know what I need to know.
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T.A.Rodgers
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Re: a pantsers take on plotting

Postby T.A.Rodgers » Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:56 pm

For what it's worth, I have heard of everyone on the list and I do believe all are bestselling authors. :)

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ostarella
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Re: a pantsers take on plotting

Postby ostarella » Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:49 pm

[quote="T.A.Rodgers"]For what it's worth, I have heard of everyone on the list and I do believe all are bestselling authors. :)[/quote]

Yes, they are. Of fiction, of course, which william continually confuses with non-fiction. I have little doubt he's experienced with non-fiction. But he's comparing apples to oranges and can't seem to acknowledge the difference, let alone the difference in individuals and how they work best.

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