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As mother nature dumps another foot of snow on top of the foot that fell earlier today, I find myself in my writer cave thinking. I’ve been thinking a lot about editing and the revision process and realize that much of the work I am doing now in these final edits on my novel could have been avoided had I been a plotter instead of the over-proud panster that I used to be.
Hubris.Plotting? For shame, that is stifling my creativity!
Outlines? Please…
Plan? Folly!

Notice that I refer to the pantser that I used to be. Past tense. I am so totally cured of that. That does nothing to help me with the novel that I wrote by the seat of my pants. *tosses the pantser badge aside without shame and joins the plotting crew.*

I have come to realize the value plotting can have on my writing. You get to the same places when you outline that you do when drafting, you just get there sooner. You can have the same conversations with your friends about the story idea if you plot it into outline or short paragraph form. You can visualize all of the points in your head, making notes and blurbing the dialog in the margins of your outline. You can even draft a few lines of description if you must.  But the thing you probably won’t do a whole lot of is waste your time.

It is a hard realization relating to my work. Writing my novel wasn’t a waste of my time. I think it is finally becoming what it was meant to be, albeit through many drafts and revisions. That said, I firmly believe that had I plotted this one out I would have been finished with it more than a year ago.  I would have been able to use my time more wisely and might be putting the finishing touches on my shiny new witchy novel instead.

Ah, its easy to be sure about what could have been. I don’t know if I could really say that I regret finding myself facing this realization. Because if I didn’t happen with this book, it might have happened with the next, or the next. So, either way, I am in a better place for it.

I’ve shown you mine, so the question remains:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

About the Author Corinne

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  1. Multi-drafter. The way I write is very organic, very intuitive. I almost have to feel my through it. Plotters work very hard, too. Its important to not “grass is greener” about that. My husband is more of a plotter – he spends hours plotting and then – wham! – there it is. But in the time he is plotting, I’ll have a second draft done.

  2. Agree on the grass is greener thoughts. It isn’t always so clear cut on either side. Is it possible to be a plotting multi-drafter? I can’t imagine ever sticking with a first draft no matter how I got there.

  3. I guess I’m a pantser. I have a general idea in mind, a broad outline, but I don’t know how it’s all going to come out. I find, when I plot, that my writing is rushed; it’s like a paint by numbers painting and my words are just filling in the blanks. When I let loose I am surprised and happy to see things pop in, entire plot developments, that hadn’t even occurred to me while plotting. I love those revelations and I don’t see them happening when I’m writing to an outline.

  4. Interesting Cathy,
    Perhaps I am blaming too much on my method when the problem was in the story and would have manifested either way. I don’t think of plotting in the way that you described as paint-by-numbers but as a rather flowing changeable thing that acts as a general guide, but can be altered as these new things can and do arise.

  5. From Urban Dictionary: A NaNoWriMo term that means that you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ when you are writing your novel. You have nothing but the absolute basics planned out for your novel.

    This outlook towards writing is often opposed by the ‘planner’, who knows exactly what is going to happen, when it will happen, and where it will happen. There is often enmity between the two types of writers.

    OK…since I had no idea what the term pantser meant. Yeah, I’m one. I guess that’s why I am having trouble sitting down and just doing it. When I write on Tale Spinning, it’s just what comes out: no planning.

    I’ll try. Li always plots and plans.

  6. I love the title of this post. That’s exactly how I felt last week when my ending fell completely apart. I waited until I was 2/3 done with the book before I outlined the ending, and it didn’t work. I wrote it out anyway, but now, I have to go back in and fix all the beginning to shore up the climax.

    Yes, outlines from the beginning are the way to go. (And you’d think I’d finally realize this after writing 4 books.)

  7. I’m a plotter. I can’t imagine being a pantser. It seems to me if you’re just going along and writing whatever seems good at the time, you must end up with a horrible mess. No wonder pantsers need so many drafts. I’d rather know what I’m doing and just do one draft plus light editing.

  8. Stu, let me know how it goes. This whole process, while very interesting as the story developed and changed, has been painful and very long.

    Anne, I find myself in the same situation cleaning up the mess of a beginning after realizing the ending was falling apart. Frustrating knowing it could have been avoided. Learning moment for me.

    Sarah, I dream of seeing my next book working its way through like you’ve described. One draft plus light editing sounds divine!

  9. Reformed plotter, actually. Hahahaha. I just planned the life out of anything I wrote, so I stopped. And it works for me. Still, I accept rewrites as a fact of life and I plan those, using my pantsed rough draft as foundation. :-)

  10. I’m a bit of both. I don’t do detail outlines by any means. I work up a few sentences for each chapter, spend time developing characters, make a time-line if I need to, make copious notes.

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