Monday, September 7, 2015
I used to be a pantser - but now plan my stories. This is why
Labor Day, a day to kick back, plan stories, and write. You seriously have to love that. Then again, not everyone is into writing. Whatever you're doing today, I hope it's special.
I've heard a lot of comments lately from friends about the way they like to write, and a good number of them are pantsers. What is a pantser you ask? A pantser is someone who writes their story freestyle with no or minimal planning. I used to write my stories like that, but took a class about planning while waiting for the one I wanted to come available. It was called something like "Bringing order out of chaos," and I had a great story, but it was a mess. As a side note, this class is available at the UCLA Writer's Extension.
One reason I plan before writing is that I'm a prolific writer and I get a lot of ideas. It's like a download that moves slow when the server is bogged down at times and flows at others, but keeps on coming. I used to start these stories, but now I have numerous works in progress and more to finish than I can do in a year's time.
Another reason I plan is to see the whole spectrum and find the subplots as well as the plot and theme. This allows characters to form better in my mind and where they will be going. It also shows me holes in the plot, and things that won't work for whatever reason. Things still change and other ideas are added, but I've found the trail to be a little smoother. Planning also enables me to see where I'll need to add scenes or make changes to support the new idea.
Another thing that's good is writing the synopsis before starting your story enables you to find any holes, and makes the final synopsis easier to write when the story is done. The back flap of the book too, although I tend to be lax on this part.
I'm not against pantsing. As the old adage says, "To each his own." I've just found that when I gave planning an honest effort, it worked for me. I still love to freewrite and allow myself a great deal of freedom as I go. Until the novel is finished, nothing is written in stone.