Thursday, February 9, 2012

pantsing it

I've been having a heck of a time writing new pages this year. The problem stems from my method...I'm a pantser. This means I do not plot my novels out. Thus, the opposite of a pantser is a plotter. (I've tried this method, too, and it doesn't work for me; writing becomes drudgery.) In the eternal struggle between panster and plotter: pick whatever works for you. There's no right or wrong way to write.

However. Pantsing has its perils. Namely, not knowing what's going to happen next.

I'm working on two novels right now. (Another trick: I can change projects when I get stuck.) In Project 1, I wrote half of it and got bogged down in the sagging middle. My critique group suggested I needed an antagonist. (Critique groups rock.) My brain always goes to a black-caped villain (cue evil laugh) with the word 'antagonist' and let's face it, most people don't deal with villains. But, a person whose interests are in opposition to the protagonist's interests... That could work. I introduced a new pov character and wrote about 10 chapters for him. Introducing a new pov character seems very effective--I'll keep it in my bag of tricks. Everything was going great until I got stuck again. Ugh. I couldn't figure out what would happen next because I hadn't plotted it. But, finally, after I quit procrastinating, I figured out what the worst possible thing that could happen to that character and I made it happen. Viola. Now the chapters are flowing again. (Poor guy!)

I started Project 2 several years ago and got bogged down in legal jargon and rules (there's a murder in chapter 1). A few months ago I picked it back up and dusted it off with a total rewrite. (Thank you critique group!) But the pantser method is really biting me in the ass this time. I don't know what should happen next. I don't recall who the murderer is. I planted a bunch of clues and I don't recall where they lead and so on. It's pretty much a disaster. Don't do this! Apparently, even pantsers need to take notes. The next few days I will be brainstorming what happens next. Wish me luck.

How about you? Are you a panster or a plotter? Do you have any advice for avoiding pantser or plotter pitfalls?

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