Sunday, 10 December 2017

Plotting versus Pantsing

I spend far too much time wool gathering rather than actually writing and something that has been occupying my mind recently is whether I should plan my next project or just sit down and write in my usual pantser fashion.

The reason I have been thinking about this is that in the past month I completed my first draft of a manuscript which is now relaxing quietly on my hard drive. I started this manuscript during last year's NaNoWriMo and it was a tiny idea which I began to write and it grew like Topsy. There was no real planning, just a vague idea and a couple of characters. I really enjoyed writing this way, it's the way I have always written so feels natural. The problem is that at times I literally lost the plot! The thing took off in unexpected directions and I now know that part of the re-writing and editing process will be to find a thread that runs through it and follow that thread rather than wandering off on branch lines.

So here is the issue. I now want to begin another manuscript. I have a vague idea, just as I had a year ago. I have my characters, familiar ones from the first manuscript and I have an idea of the journey I want them to take. so do I plan or do I fly?

Pros and Cons
  • I will know where I am going and where I want to end up.
  • However I'm not very good at making a coherent plan and tend to abandon it at some stage as too prescriptive.
  • It's not the way I naturally write so always feels false to me.
  • It feels natural and I know how to do it.
  • I get lost down side roads and up interesting trees!
  • There is little cohesion in a long manuscript.
  • I wonder if it leaves me with a huge editing job because there is no continuity.
So here I am, sitting at the laptop, wondering how to start. This is a familiar place for me over the years. But it is mid December, I may ponder some more over the festive period and see where I end up.  Maybe there is a combination that I can find, some compromise that will let me plan and fly free at the same time. Or maybe I just embrace the inner pantser and go with the flow. Who knows. Certainly not me at the moment!

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