Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blog Hop

This week's question for the Blog Hop is: Are you a plotter or a panster? Do you plot your stories ahead of writing? Or do you write and see what happens? (Writing “by the seat of your pants”.) Why do you work that way? What are the benefits ...and drawbacks?

I am and always have been a panster. I know my hero and heroine and the beginning and end of the story and what happens in the middle is as much a surprise to me as it is to my readers. I work that way because it works for me. At one of our RWA local chapter meetings, the speaker suggested if we never tried plotting a story to try it. She suggested we write a synopsis and then plot out each chapter.

I figured what the heck. I've never done it, but I'll try almost anything once. The speaker (and several other members - plotters- all agreed that was the way to write. According to them, you wrote a better story.  So I sat down and wrote a synopsis and plotted out my story and then I sat down to write.

It went well for while, but then I hit a snag. The story was stuck. My hero and heroine wouldn't talk to me. I couldn't move the story forward. I was seriously blocked. Every day I opened the program and stared at the screen. I read and reread what I had already written - I always do that to refresh my memory. Then I stared at the screen. I knew what was supposed to happen next, but for some reason it didn't work.

No matter what I did, I couldn't write the next sentence. So I did what I usually do when I'm blocked. I moved on to something else. I revised an old story and submitted it. Then I came back to this one. Nothing, nada. The characters wouldn't speak to me. So again, I found an old story, expanded and revised it and submitted it too. 

This went on for over two years. I just couldn't make happen what was supposed to happen. About six months ago, I was emailing my writing buddy and ranting about this story and how frustrated I was. Suddenly in the course of composing the email, I started asking what if. What if this happened or what if my heroine did this or my hero did that and walla - the story started to move forward. I put the synopsis and plot outline out of my mind - at least for the most part - and the story went off in a whole differrent direction. I even introduced a new character.

I'm still not finished with it, but at least it's going forward now. 

I can guarantee I'll never plot another story, nor will I write a synopsis first. No thanks, for me it doesn't work. Maybe there's benefits to it, but I benefit better by letting my characters guide me.  Are there drawbacks to writing this way? I haven't found any. Being a panster works for me.


Megan Johns said...

Very interesting, Roseanne. I work in a similar way and usually know the beginning and end, but not the middle!

J Q Rose said...

What if is the secret. At least you tried a synopsis and found it wasn't your style. We all have to find our way. Thanks for sharing.

Cheryl said...

I'm a pantser too. I've tried an outline before, but it didn't work for me. I find that funny since I am so organized and anal about everything else.

Anonymous said...

I love that word, panster. I always picture an old comedy routine...:) I usually have a loose outline of a story in my head, but let the characters take over and make the story their own.

Lawna Mackie said...

I give you credit for trying to plot Roseanne! I truly get bogged down and lose my inspiration. I am envious of plotters.

Lawna Mackie

Jenna Storm said...

I'm a plotter! Most definitely. However, when I'm writing the story and I have inspiration to add or change something I pay attention and follow instinct. But I create character worksheets, outlines and sometimes even notecards if the plot has a lot of twists and I need help organizing them. I raise my cyberglass to all you pansters for your writing style that I could never emulate.

Ginger Simpson said...

I find it very interesting to find so many pantsers. For a long time, I thought I was doing something wrong because I couldn't plot. It's nice to have a group that identify with me. I never know where I'm going until I get there. Ro and I are definitely soul sisters.

Tonya R. Moore said...

You know, it's funny. Before getting online and talking to other writers, I pretty much thought all fiction authors were pretty much, pantsers at heart--like me. It's good to know there's so much diversity, but I love knowing I'm still in good company.

I'm in the blog hop today too. My answer to this week's question was: Plotter or Pantser - Does it Matter?

Angelika Devlyn said...

I have to agree with Ginger, it's very interesting to meet so many Pansters! When I plot more... but if you think about it, even though I plot -- am I not a panster ? LOL Even plotting doesn't tell you EXACTLY where to take the book :)

Both kind of work for me, but, once i know the story, then my plotting monster takes over! LOL

Plotting did baffle me for years - until I 'got it'. :)

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