Sunday, September 19, 2010

A History of Being a Pantster

In high school English, the area I hated the most was dissecting a story’s plot. I didn’t care how an author constructed a story. I wanted to be entertained. I wanted an adventure I could never have in real life. A trip back in time with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court or a new planet to explore in Anne McCaffrey latest novel; something fun.

In high school, papers were to be done to the teachers specifications. I had a hard time with teachers that expected you to turn in an outline weeks before the paper was due. I preferred to write the paper from my head and not follow a step by step process. In college, it was easier to write research papers. I took notes, organized them according to the thoughts in my head, and wrote. Ten to twenty pages later I was done.

It should be no surprise then, that as I started writing fiction I am known as a Pantster. I sit at my keyboard and let the story flow from head to the paper. I don’t outline, I don’t have any plot points defined and I don’t have any storyboard with multicolored post-it notes. Yes, I’ve taken quite a few plotting classes and none really work for me.

I keep several of the plot point diagrams (Vogler’s Character Arc and the 3-Act Structure) around my desk but I don’t refer to them very often as I write my first draft. I may use them more during edits if a critique partner tells me I’m missing something. Or I get that feeling that something is wrong with the storyline. But for the most part my stories progress start to finish from my head with no pre-planning.

I have to do some character detail sheets before I start writing. But that’s character and not plot so it doesn’t count. I don’t like doing it either. I’d rather sit and write but it is hard to get details correct without having character traits ahead of time. So there is a bit of pre-planning to my stories but not much.

1 comment:

  1. I loved writing in high school, but I hated dissecting the story. Like you, I just wanted to be entertained. But I liked being given and idea and then running with it...or writing with it. I'm still like that. I don't really plot per say, but I have to have a rough idea to work with. So, I kind of plot by the seat of my pants. It doesn't always work, but I still love writing and that's what it's all about.

    Of course, selling and making profit can't hurt!