Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm Breaking Up with Pants

Or Pantsing. Or being a Pantser. Whatever. Me and Seat o' The Pants writing are going on a hiatus.

You know, if you're a writer (or friends with a writer- you have my sympathies) that writers generally fall into one of two categories in how they approach writing. They either plot out their story before writing the first word (PLOTTERS) or they plunge in head long into their first draft (PANTSERS).

When looking at my non writing life, I thought I was naturally a pantser. I cook without recipes (except baking, because that's science) and I never look at instructions unless I absolutely have to (as in the case of every piece of IKEA furniture I've ever assembled.) I like to figure things out as I go, manually build things because I often find I understand the pieces of the thing I'm putting together better when I've flailed around with them a bit.

I won't break out a cookbook or ever find the instructions for hooking up the blu ray. I refuse. BUT I'm starting my next WIP and I am PLOTTING dear friends. Here's why.

My last WIP (the rewrite of which is currently with Beta readers) was a beautiful, intriguing hot mess. There was so much good in there, dammit. But IT DIDN'T HAVE STRAIGHT BONES. I only realized that after the fact (oh, and when my agent told me it was close, but no cigar.) And it killed me that I'd spent six months building the faulty thing and then another six months doing an extensive rewrite. I mean, yes the resulting rewrite (in my opinion) is better than the first version (Betas will hopefully agree with me - does anyone else hate waiting on betas as much as I do...anyway) but it was painful. Wracking crying jags, ripping out clumps of hair, moaning into my pillow - that kind of painful.

In the past, I would have taken the view that the only way to GET to that good rewrite was to go through the pain. But now I'm not so sure.

So this new WIP is starting differently. I'm researching. I'm making lists on whiteboards. I've signed up for Writers' Digest tutorials and am watching First Draft Outline by Karen S. Wiesner. She's serious about plotting and though I'm not naturally inclined, I can learn plotting. I don't know if Plotting and I will stay together or if I'll eventually go back to Pantsing (If she'll even have me) but I do know that sometimes a style of writing feels right not because it IS right, but because it's what you're comfortable with. And comfort is the natural enemy of good writing. So I'm going to go get uncomfortable.

Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid? How do you make yourself uncomfortable in the service of good writing?


  1. I am a pantser who has given it up many a time, but always come back to my comfy pants. I always have a general outline. I know where I'm ending up and a few of the points along the way, but everything else comes as I put pen to paper (well fingers to keys). That said, some of my MS's have been holy flipping messes that cut at my heart and make me feel small and like I just will never get this writing thing right. I do wish I could plot better, but (at least for now) I'm doing what I can and moving forward. Pantsing can work, it just means I have to revise even more.

  2. hey Robin! I think I might turn out to be like you in this way - a hybrid pantser/plotter. My recent pantsing experience was so bittersweet (and my new crit partner who is a fabu plotter basically kicked ass with her latest ms. and found a publisher shortly after submitting) that I feel like I have to give plotting a proper chance. Do not be surprised if you read about me backsliding in the future. I also love my comfy *pants* :)

  3. Good for you! I do better plotting too. Saves a lot of time on revisions. I hope this new relationship works out for you! :)


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