Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why Pantster's Struggle

Yes, this is an ongoing debate in the writing community. This is that universal argument about whether or not it is good to be a plotter or a pantster. Again, I am going to be the advocate for the best method, and that would be plotting.

Before I go any further,  want to return all of you back to your junior high and high school days. Remember in writing classes your teachers talked about a concept known as the writing process? Let me give you that quick review.

Essentially, there are three areas: PRE-WRITING, DRAFTING and PUBLISHING. You may have seen these with different terms, but these are the main areas.

In the first phase, the pre-writing, this is where you do most of your planning. As the prefix PRE means, it is BEFORE you start writing. During this phase, you brainstorm, you free write, you outline, you research. Essentially, you get all of your thoughts figured out first before you even waste your time doing any writing. If you spend the time here, you won't end up writing a story that is pointless or goes no where. You figure out the mistakes BEFORE you get started.

In the second phase, this where you draft and get feedback. During this phase you are constantly getting feedback and revisions as you go. This phase is not about writing the entire story AND THEN getting feedback. Get those comments as you go so your revisions are not painful.

In the publishing phase, this is where you do your picky editing. This is where you wordsmith and get it ready BEFORE sending it out to publishers and agents.

Now, where the pantsters of the world screw up is that they take the FREEWRITING step in the Pre-Writing phase and count that as real writing. They assume that the work they do there is going to be the story. While you might find some nuggets of content here, this is not going to be your best work. The reason is simple. You have no idea where your work is going to.

As a quick side note, this is also the reason why so many people who are now in the middle of the NANOWRIMO are going to struggle. This month is going to be a lot of brainstorming and free-writing which means the editing is going to be a nightmare.

Now, let me get back to the other issue of why it is crucial you plot those stories out.

If you are like pretty much everyone else out there, you do not have unlimited time. If you have two hours of writing, you have to make sure that time is used wisely. You cannot lose that time just trying to figure things out. But there is a bigger issue. For so many of you pantsters, you just start writing and then end up ramming into a brick wall as your characters of the plot went one way, and you needed to go somewhere else. Not fun.

I know that many of you believe "plotting hampers your creativity." Bull! Plotting is just deciding where you want to head in each chapter or section of your book. You don't need to plot every element of dialogue or storyboard the entire book. But you do need to have a vision of where you need to be at the end of each chapter or section.

Just something to think about on a Tuesday!

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