|Courtesy Google Images/|
Before I get too deep into this blog series, let me give you some background that informs my approach to this question. I'm a fiction writer, working on my first official novel for the market. As a teen I wrote a novel too derivative to sell, though I did write it from start to finish. (This is big. You have to finish your stuff, to paraphrase Chuck Wendig.) I've worked for the past 8 years as a full-time copywriter and editor for nonprofit organizations, doing all kinds of magazine articles, fundraising letters, and PR. I've taught college writing courses since 1997, and tutored writing students one-on-one for even longer than that.
I say all this to set this series into context, because I come at plotting (and pantsing) from the viewpoint of someone who has not only spent years figuring out her own method to writing, but who has also worked hard with a lot of people to help them figure out the method that works for them. And that's the first thing I want to emphasize: We need to figure out what works for us as individual writers, because we each have a unique way of approaching our writing that is going to work for us. Our part is to find it.
It's important to remember that you—yes, you—have a unique way of planning your novel from start to finish that is going to work for you. Why? Because let's face it... The question of plotting vs. pantsing often comes across as an all-or-none proposition; one side is right, the other wrong. On the other hand, it's not impossible to find people who talk as though the issue is completely irrelevant, and it doesn't matter what you do
The truth, however, is that the issue does matter. We shouldn't blow it off. But it's not an all-or-nothing, right-wrong issue either. Both approaches can be effective, and you can use them both as it suits you, on the same project even.
That's right, I'm saying it right here in living color. You can plot and pants. And if you can learn to be flexible enough to do both, as needed, it may help your writing exponentially.
|Proof that I don't pants:|
Notes for my current novel
But I don't completely pants to the point of having no direction or sense at all of where I want to go. Instead, I write things down as they occur to me. As you can see, I like to use 3 x 5 cards because I can physically hold them. As new ideas come, I add them to my file.
For me, new ideas often come as I'm writing a scene or thinking about a scene I'm going to write. That's why I say I'm a hybrid. Those ideas float up from my subconscious so often during the act of writing that I've learned it's a part of my process. So, I include it. It would be foolish not to. I'm finding what works for me. And I think all writers should do that for themselves. Try different things, and find what works for you. It will help you grow as a writer, and isn't that the goal?
|More of my personal notes for|
my urban fantasy WIP
Next week, I'll talk a little more about why you can't totally throw plotting out the window, as well as why pantsing on a good day is a lot like freewriting. In the meantime, tell me about how you plot or pants, as well as the plotting/pantsing questions you've faced. I'd like to address them in this series, if I can. And share this post with friends who might be interested, because I'd love to hear from a wide spectrum of writers on this topic. I think it'll provide interesting insights and tips for all of us.
See you next week!
Copyright (c) 2012 by M.A. Chiappetta. All rights reserved.