PLOTTERS VS. PANTSERS–a fun look at both sides of the issue from Eliza Knight and Renee Knowles…
by Eliza Knight
They both sound uncomfortable, and for those who have a preference, one can be quite painful. I’ve tried both and come to the conclusion I am a plotter, through and through. If I can’t be in control it makes me squirm! Probably part of my majorly Type A personality…
Today I thought I’d take you through my experience with the pantsing so you can see how painful it was for this here control freak to let go, (and secretly see why I think pansters are crazy! Just kidding…lol)
Monday 8:30am – wait! Scratch that I’m pantsing, make it 8:37…
They say pantsters fly by the seat of their pants, I’ve got my basic character sketches, and I’m hoping that my fingers will soar across the keyboard.
8:39am…Not so bad. I’ve written a whole paragraph.
8:41am…I’m starting to sweat. I want to know exactly what is going to happen…
8:45am…Biting nails and rapidly tapping foot. I’m only one sentence past my initial paragraph.
8:47am…I’ve ripped off my pants and tossed the computer! I can’t take it! I must plot my story from beginning to end, and while I do allow for some minor changes and character drivenness, I just can’t handle not knowing anything…
Seriously though, I have tried pantsing. It’s actually how I first started writing, and two years later I’d finished two novels. BUT, one of them I had to rewrite literally 6 times—doing the math on a 95K manuscript, that means I really wrote 570,000 words for one novel!!! The second novel was only 50K, and I’ve re-written it once, and tossed it into the deepest darkest corner of my hard-drive for a day I have more time.
For some, they don’t mind the rewrites, or maybe they are even blessed enough to pants it and get everything down in at least one or two shots, but not me, and I’m not talking just edits, we all do those.
Now I plot meticulously. I have my character sketches, my synopsis and my chapter outlines done before I start writing. Of course it’s not set in stone and I do make changes, but I’ve found with the way I plot, there are NO rewrites, and I only have to edit each chapter 2 maybe 3 times before I’m satisfied.
I hope you pansters find the humor in my teasing, and I hope you plotters feel like you’re not alone!!!
Hello, plotters–this is how the other half lives!
by Renee Knowles
Eliza told you about the pain she endured trying to be a pantser. Oh, what she’s suffered. :)
I have to admit that I have suffered too. For a long time I was sure something must be wrong with me. It seemed every writer I knew was telling me about a new plotting system. One would advise me about how to make up a 60-page outline for a 250-page book. Another one just took a class at their RWA chapter and learned an entirely new system for plotting—she gave me books and worksheets and character charts. Some of which made great scrap paper for my grocery lists.
Don’t get me wrong. All these writer friends had the best of intentions. And I appreciated every one of them. But these systems confounded me. I would sit there staring at them blankly waiting for the same inspiration to strike me that my fellow writers were feeling. What was wrong with me? I wondered. What writing gene was I missing that everyone else seemed to have in spades? How on earth was I supposed to know all this?
That was it, I decided. I was defective. I’d never make it as a writer. I was doomed to simply sit on the sidelines as I had in gym class throughout middle school.
Then one day I gave up. I cleared my desk of all the plotting clutter. And I just began to write.
Viola! The words flowed from me. Heck, it was almost as if a dam had broken loose. This book became my first published book, Going Topless.
I realized I was a “pantser.” (Aha! There is even a name for it!) And the realization allowed me to finally relax and let the story play itself out. It was a revelation. An awakening. At least for me, “pantsing” is the only way to inspire my muse.
And I’ve never had cause to look back.
Eliza is the author of multiple sizzling historical romances and Highlander time travel erotic romance novellas published by The Wild Rose Press. She is a freelance copy editor, Newsletter Editor for Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and President of the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. Eliza is the author of the award-winning blog, History Undressed and has published numerous articles in various newsletters. She presents workshops on history, researching techniques and writing craft, to writing groups online. Visit Eliza: www.elizaknight.com, www.historyundressed.blogspot.com
Renee Knowles is an award-winning contemporary and historical romance author. She is also the author of the writing how-to series SAVVY BUSINESS SKILLS FOR WRITERS, covering everything from career planning to networking and promoting on a budget to no-fear public speaking. Available now at Wild Child Publishing. Check out Renee’s website at www.reneeknowles.com.