Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Pantster's Tale

So now that I am nearing the end of revisions (quietly doing the happy dance) it's time to start really thinking about book 2. I know what the book is about and I have tons of scribbled notes, but that's not what I'm talking about. It's time to decide how I'm going to write this book.

With my current MS I wrote with wild abandon, never knowing what scene was coming next or what crazy capers my characters would get into. Seriously, I didn't even know how I wanted the thing to end. Unfortunately, I got about halfway through and ran into a serious block.

I didn't know what to write next!

I wrote a lovely start to a book that didn't seem to be going anywhere. After that I did a very (very) rough sketch for the rest of the book and that helped to guide me home. By rough sketch I mean I wrote one line for every scene with random extra details peppered in for fun. I ended up only using about half of those scenes.

The result was a rough draft I wouldn't show my dog (If I had a dog). I had way too many characters and plot holes you could drive a semi through. Let me be perfectly clear: it was a hot mess.

This has led to a lot of revisions on my part. I slashed around 20,000 words and had to re-write entire chapters. I guess this was about half revision, half scrap and start over.

I should have known better than to write this way, but when the idea hit I didn't stop to think about it. I just wrote. Which is fine. However, I should have used a break somewhere to map some things out.

In my 'this is how I pay the bills' world I'm forced to be analytical. While marketing sounds like a very dreamy, creative type job it's really only about 10% creative with the rest of the time spent pouring over numbers of all kinds to see if your creative works. If it works in marketing it just might work in writing, right?

So for book number dos I plan to do things a little different. I'm going to road map my book and we'll see how it goes. It could be an absolute failure. It could be the key to writing a book without the need to write half of it over again. Just like when reading my favorite books, the mystery of what will come is the best part.

Next time I'll talk about how I intend to make the switch to plotting.

So what about you? Are you a plotter? Do you write as you go? Are you somewhere inbetween? Have you ever switched styles and how did it go? I'd love to hear your tales.


  1. Hi Sarah! I feel your pain, I really do. For my novel, I started out with a plan, then a couple years into it, I veered from the plan and took a pantsters approach trying to breath some life into a ms that felt stilted & needed some oomph outside of my scripted story. I got rid of most of the original ms, keeping only a few scenes and rewriting the rest of the story. I haven't decided what I will do for book 2. I've started writing it with a pansters approach, but I fear that I will hit a point where I'll need some structure to keep me going if I get stuck. Geez, it's just not cut and dry is it? Good luck!

  2. Michelle, wouldn't it be nice if the answer was easy. All we can do is try and adjust.

  3. I think I'm somewhere in between. I usually start with with a few ideas and try to pound out as many words as possible but I have learned from an experience similar to the one you describe that it's best for me to have a short outline or at least some bullet points letting me know where I want the story to go.

    1. I'm hoping I can find the same happy middle ground.

  4. I plot too much. I know because I don't use 90% of what I plot. LOL. I have to write about 20+ pages of notes before the story is so in my mind that I can just go. I sometimes write 15K a day because of it, so I love it. But in all honesty, I don't use much of my planning. I let the characters go.

    1. Kelly, you might not use the plot notes in the writing, but they probably help spawn what does go in. It's true everyone has their own method.


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