Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pantsing My Way

When other writers ask, and they usually do, my preferred method of writing, I always answer I'm a pantser.

A panster are those folks who write stories by the seat of their pants.

Ahh, how many rewrites do you have on a manuscript?

Just one—where I have to fix punctuation, add emphasis and just plain explain something so everyone else but me understands. My edits at the publisher are copy edits. I've never NEVER had to rewrite scene or a novel. EVER.

Of course, part of that is my publishing houses and their editors. Another part is my process of pantsing. Yep, writing by the seat of the pants starts with a process.

I vaguely knew what I did, such as end, a few great twists, and my characters, the theme (which makes me break out in hives just consciously thinking about the word) is there too. None of it is written down, expect those character traits like eye, hair and height. You know the stuff that seems to magically change when you're not paying attention.

I like my process. It works well for me, but I also have this thing about learning. I love to learn new things and I want to be the best writer I can be.

So I signed up for an all day workshop put on by my local writing chapter. I really, really, really, REALLY didn't want to go. I was in the middle of a book sprinting toward the finish line and didn't want my process screwed up by something that sounded intriguing but needed time lots of time to be incorporated into my process.

The workshop start and the speaker started asking questions that had me staring at the exit and trying to figure out how to escape. A headache was brewing and it promised to be a humdinger.

As I worked on the pressure points in my hand to relieve the throbbing in my head, I contemplated excuses for running out as well as how to pass the time until I could escape.

Then he began to explain a process that screenwriters and nearly all successful modern books adhere to. He was describing my process.

My pantsing process.

To hear it laid out with the over abundance of analogies and liberally sprinkled with anti-pantsing propaganda was amazing to me.  Once I understand his language, I could answer every question about my current WIP without  hesitation and see the ripples through my manuscripts. But they were raw and now I had a stone to sharpen them.

The speakers was Larry Brooks. After I got home from the workshop, I returned home and ordered his books—Story Engineering and Story Physics. I read them after I finished my last manuscript and will use the 7/9 points to bracket out my current book and see if my daily writing page count goes up since I'm consciously thinking of everything that I used to take for granted was in place.

I look forward to the adventure, I need someone to tell me an easy way to get the write.

I would definitely recommend both books, but with this caveat. The Romance genre has significant plot points that are not covered in either book. That in no way invalidates the process, it just means Romance specific workshops must be attended by those targeting the genre.

Happy writing

1 comment:

Connie Flynn said...

Linda, I know exactly how you feel but I came to the workshop from an entirely different place. I always considered myself a plotter. Not the storyboard, every scene planned in advance kind, but still a plotter. I loosely define the inciting incident, major movements and ending. I plot like Larry too. Who would have thought? I'm glad you shared your honest experience because now I realize I'm a plantser. Okay, I apologize but I'm not taking it out. :-)