On Pantsing, Planning, and Partnerships

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Yes, there are literally just piles of books next to me. This is my “recently read pile” (it’s to the right of my bed, I just move books that way before I eventually shelve them). Pilot’s like the official blog cat!

Normally, I’m a pantser. For those not In The Know, that means that I almost never plan out my stories before I start writing. I might research, but I rarely outline. I usually know the beginning, and then end, and then I start connecting the dots. I frequently write a series of scenes, maybe 15-20 scenes, and then begin to fill the spaces between them. This sometimes doesn’t work. For the most part, it’s not a terrible method. It’s how my brain thinks.

(If you’ve ever had a conversation with me, it goes like this
You: I love icecream
Me: Oh my god, did you read that story about Tokyo’s cafes?
It’s not that I didn’t pay attention to you or I’m changing the topic, it’s that in my head I went. Icecream -> milk -> cows -> beef -> spoiled meat -> article I read about meat in Tokyo cafes. Unfortunately for you, you didn’t get to see all of those middle connections. Fortunately for my readers, they get to see those leaps.)

But yesterday, with this project, I really hit a wall. I wrote a scene that MADE NO SENSE and I was losing my grip on the story. I don’t mind if I deviate from what I intended on writing (and this story has WAY deviated) but I like to keep one hand on the steering wheel. I was driving with one knee yesterday.

So I took a step back and outlined. 

That’s right. This pantser OUTLINED SHIT. It’s a four page outline. It’s not SUPER detailed and it’s random (“Things are routine and then the sky’s on fire and shit happens” is actually a header) and very much a reflection of me (“He kisses her=SQUEE!” is another header). But it helped me. I realized the story was different than the one I thought I was telling and I now have a skeleton to refer to whenever I get a little stuck when I’m writing. It’s been incredibly helpful. Writing is going slower, for me, but I’m still writing 1500-4000 words a day, which, if this was NaNoWriMo, would have me finishing this book within the month 😉

This post also helped me think about story versus plot and conflict (which was the topic of this past week’s #yalitchat on Twitter.) 

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Have I shared this before? Yeah. He’s this cute *all* the time.

The other thing that’s happened is that I have a writing group! It came out of the #BAMFWordBattles on Twitter. It’s more like a support group/small crit group (we number 8. That’s an unwieldy numbe rof people) but it also helped me find a beta reader. I’ve NEVER gotten to this point. Sure, people have *read* my stuff but usually non-writers and not for critiquing reasons. So this is a BIG DEAL. I’m excited, and anxious. 

*waves to new blog followers and old blog followers* Hi! 

Do you pants it, or do you plan your stories?

Do you guys use writing groups/critique groups? Any words of advice to make it a positive experience?

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Tell me all of your secrets, blog friends.
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