Plotters: “You should outline your entire story before writing!”
Pantsers (as in, By-the-Seat-of-Their Pants): “You shouldn’t waste time outlining—wing it!”
You’ve heard the terms plotters and pantsers, right? We’re all different. Like I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts, you must do what works for you. (Finding what works for you takes time–and lots of writing!) Outlining works for some; writing as you go works for others.
But here’s my question…questions: What do you do when neither method seems to work for you? Use a combination of both?
I’ve resorted to both. I think that’s okay. But is that truly the challenge? For me there’s something more menacing, more antagonistic, more…okay, it’s…staying organized. My stories get crazy, grow up, live their own lives, get jobs, have kids and buy homes. And then they don’t call home. When I do talk to them, it’s like I don’t know them anymore. Who is this story child I’ve spawned?
So the questions are: How do you stay organized? How do you keep your story reigned in? How do you remember what you wrote months ago (if you’re not self-editing along the way)?
If you’re editing early on in your draft process, that’s fine, if it doesn’t slow you down too much. Gone are my days of self-editing as I write. My current novel I spit out on page within six months because I didn’t stop to slow down and see what I wrote (and edit it). I wrote 60k words in six months. There’s something remarkable about “finishing” a rough draft. Quite the confidence booster. The boost can be short lived, however, when the quick progress you made initially comes close to a halt in the rewrite process.
Now is the hard part.
Like I’ve told folks, I’m slashing and burning my story like it’s virgin rainforest. Painful at times, but rewarding too because I get to see all that I’ve accomplished with a first draft. I’ve eliminated a LOT of my original writing flourish, and much of what I put on paper will not make it to the final draft. And that’s okay.
But with that approach do you lose connection with your story if you don’t analyze it every day? If you don’t re-read it and make adjustments as you go?
These are important questions to think about. If you haven’t been there yet, be prepared. For as much as I’m a pantser most of the time, I have to admit, the plotters are on to something when it comes to planning and organization.
Either way you chose to create your stories, keep on writing! As some say, writing is easy; it’s the re-writing that’s hard.
(But it’s still fun.)