Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Rise of the Pantsers!

This month's theme is plotting. Um, yeah, right.
I don't plot.
I refuse to plot.
Okay, I plot a little. For my romances, every one of my plots is--something happens to make the hero and heroine meet, more stuff happens, things get worse, then they get bad, then you have to read with your eyes closed, then that horrible moment when everything looks totally lost and then ahhh, they live happily ever after.
Sound familar.
If so, you're a pantser. A person who writes a story by the seat of their pants, not a plotter (which to mean sounds like a disease where you spend copious amounts of time on the porcelian throne). Remove tongue from cheek.
When I tell someone I'm a pantser, their response is that I must do lots of revisions.
Um, no. And never plot lines, my revisions consist of tweaking words and verbage.
Most respond with denial. Apparently, by not having tons of revisions I'm either a) lying, b) a crappy writer who doesn't listen to editors, or c) write superficial books with little plot.
My answers are I'm not lying about this but if we talk long enough I'll lie about something else (I write fiction, which is made up stuff--ie lies). As for b, I've been published with 4 small presses and worked with 8 different editors. My storylines have passed muster with all of them, it's the evil grammar that kills me. And c) neither my characters nor my plots are superficial. In fact, I write very plot driven and complex stories. Always, even the short ones. The only time I haven't tied them all up is when I intend for there to be a sequel.
So, does that mean all the ardent plotters who are telling you their secrets are wrong?
Absolutely not. Their process works for them  and it may work for you. But my brain thinks that if I plot a story, I'm done with it and my story fairy moves on.
While I am at the extreme edge of the antiplotting scale, I do have some tips for those who are in the middle.
Each scene (not chapter) must move the story forward in three ways--one has to raise the internal conflict/goal/motivation, the other must increase  the stakes for the external conflict/goal/motivation and the third is a repeat of either the internal or external.
Lastly, because most people are a hybrid, take five minutes before you write for the day and by stream of consciousness think of everything that could happen in a scene that you're writing. These are bullet points like shots fired, running, dark alley, garbage and rats (fear of rats), betrayed by coworker, who can she trust,  only the hero knew where she was going.
You don't have to use everything in one scene but this excercise can help focus your writing generating more words in a short period of time.
Happy writing!

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