Planning vs. Pantsing

Posted By on February 12, 2013

For non-writers, pantsing is writing a book by the seat of your pants because planning goes against your grain. My first couple of books were definitely pantsed because I felt that planning meant I’d written the story already, and I had no surprises left to enjoy.

After those two books, I realized I needed some planning or I tended to ramble (and also that bickering isn’t conflict, but that’s a different post for a different day). As time went on, and I sold books on synopsis, I realized I needed some pantsing as well as planning because my plans never worked out. As soon as I started the chapters, that eternal question, “Why?” undermined all my plans.

For a while, I wrote the synopsis first and then wrote a chapter, which generally fixed my synopsis problems. My characters never care what I’ve written for them in the synopsis, and those infernal “Whys” demanded attention.

Now, I start with pages, and after about 4, I need a synopsis. I need a plan to show me the way, like the GPS on my phone. The certainty that I have an arrival in mind. But, because I’m still a pantser, deep down, I often veer off toward a different arrival as I near the end.

Sometimes, the bad guy isn’t really bad, but terribly misguided. Sometimes the good guy isn’t good, but really good at hiding his inner evil. Sometimes, joy isn’t where you think it’s waiting.

Sometimes, the plan isn’t foolproof, so you have to find the courage to jump off the path and grab the joy of being a writer.

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