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Thread: From pantser to plotter? Or vice versa?

  1. #51
    Slightly nervous. Ragtime's Avatar
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    In the past I've gone back and forth. The problem with pantsing is that I never finish the story. The problem with plotting is that the story is never as good as when I pants.

    I guess I'll just stick with pantsing, find a concept I enjoy/actually know about and use Dramatica to chainsaw through it.

  2. #52
    figuring it all out RWrites's Avatar
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    I plan out my characters, using a tiny minimal sheet and using lots of detail. Then I do an extanded summary and brief(very brief) plot outline. My world is describe in paragraphs and not questions. I don't hate plotting/planning, but I hate answering questions. If you like to panster but need to plot, try writing everything out but not asking questions about it if you don't already! I also hate plotting becausr the story feel stale and that I'm just coloring the lines, not drawing them.

  3. #53
    practical experience, FTW
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    I've been a pantser, but I think I need to reform. Somewhat. All I've had in the four books I've written is a character in a situation. But I've come to believe that I need more to start out with. Not sure how much more, but more. In another thread it was said that a synopsis is a good way to 'outline' a story. I may try that. Just to have signposts, or what have you.

  4. #54
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Paulsvault's Avatar
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    I guess if I'm using the term right, I'm a pantser. For me, having picked writing back up after putting it aside for so long (far too long), it has helped me stay motivated to just write, write, write. If I stop and plan I will lose focus. I know the two 'novels' I have written will never buy me a private island in the Bahama's so I look at this as writing practice and nothing more. In my last book there was a time or two where I wrote a portion of a chapter, or a scene, and looked at my MC and said, I can't believe you just did that... or looked at the antagonist and said, how is she supposed to defeat you after you did that?

    I suppose after I become more comfortable and confident (if ever) in my work, I can plan and plot more seriously, but for now it's like watching a story flow from my fingertips and onto the screen for me to read (if that makes any damn sense at all )

  5. #55
    From the Depths he comes wolfking's Avatar
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    I started as a pantser, then changed to plotter. for my current WIP I wrote a beginning, middle and end for each chapter. It has been the best method so far. It has allowed me to break the story down and I basically use each chapter summary as the writing prompt as if I were writing a short story. I'll say that this is the method I'll use in the future as well.

  6. #56
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Scout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfking View Post
    . for my current WIP I wrote a beginning, middle and end for each chapter. It has been the best method so far. It has allowed me to break the story down and I basically use each chapter summary as the writing prompt as if I were writing a short story. I'll say that this is the method I'll use in the future as well.
    now this sounds helpful. Can you elaborate?

  7. #57
    From the Depths he comes wolfking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scout View Post
    now this sounds helpful. Can you elaborate?
    Sure. After I knew the main points of my story, I started to outline, which was basically a few sentences. I did that in daydream mode until I had each chapter with at least a few sentences.

    I went back and rewrote the outline with more detail, like a skeleton draft. Each chapter has: Pov the chapter is told in, the summary, and then key points. I'll also note secondary characters or other important sidebar things to consider from one chapter to the next.

    The summary has a beginning, middle and end written out, which is only a few sentences each, but it covers the chapter as a whole. So I know when I need to come into the scene, and when to leave. This has been a major help to prevent too short or too long chapters. I wanted each chapter focused.

    After thaf come the key points. These are the hot topics of the chapter that MUST be mentioned and are the theme of the chapter itself.

    Once all that is together, it is a sharp outline from start to finish. So I'll take the character, review the summary and key points, and use that as the prompt for the chapter, which I treat as an individual short story. Thinking on it, a book is a collection of short stories/chapters. So treating each chapter as such when writing helps me to ensure that my chapters are rounded and focused.

    For me, my chapters tend to range from 2,000 to 2,500 words, which is a great shirt story length. I spent the last couple of years writing shorts around this range. I really needed help with endings, so being,able to crank out multiple stories from start to finish was super helpful. When I came back to writing my novel I realized I could treat each chapter as a short story, since they essentially are.

    So I came up with this outline/prompt thing to see how it went. I am roughly 10% into my first novel working this way, but it is by far my favorite method.

    Hope that answered some questions!

  8. #58
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I’m currently trying outlining. I have written stories with a simple scene list outline or without one, but haven’t finished those projects, or in one case I managed to write the MC out of the story (my interest shifted to side character). So the plan is to try a more full-fledged outline and see what happens.

  9. #59
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I was a ride-or-die pantser and after committing to planning my current WIP, I'm converted. I can relate to what Ragtime said: sometimes the writing is better when it just flows out, but that doesn't lead to finished drafts on which I can do real work. I've tried a couple of different methods but what ended up helping me the most was writing summaries for what would happen in each chapter and scene, a few different times using different words. I found that kicking the idea around in that way, it changes a little each time so that by the time I sat down to actually write it, it is what it needed to be.

  10. #60
    practical experience, FTW Shoeless's Avatar
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    I'm a pseudo panster, I guess. I don't write outlines or anything like that, I usually just go in and write the story and see how it unfolds. However, in between writing, I'll often have bits and snippets of moments come to me, which, if they seem useful, I file away in the back of my head to use at a later point in the story, though I'll often have no idea how it connects to what's already been written or yet to be written. So I just keep writing to see how some of these separate moments all connect.

  11. #61
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I didn't know what "outlining" was until this month. I have several craft books I bought to teach me how to write fiction, and these books make you believe that if you want to write a good novel, and write it super fast, you have to plan and outline everything. I have this one book that took things to a ridiculous level, where the guy says that you need to know - before hand - how many pages your novel will be, then you divide those pages up into chapters, then each chapter gets an outline, then divide each chapter into scenes, then each scene gets an outline, then divide each scene into 2-3 bullet points... then you have to create your characters, write out their entire bibliography, backstory. And then you can commence writing.

    I tried to outline. The thing the book says makes sense in a way. The books say that your creativity needs "context" to be creative inside of. So I tried outlining, and it didn't work for me. I thought there was something wrong with me. Like I'll never be able to write a book if I can't outline. This discouraged me, and I thought about quitting.

    I'm used to just writing; "pantser" as they say. Well not just writing. I don't just sit in front of a computer and start typing. Over the years of write tons of long essays about philosophical stuff, I've developed my own "procedure" which works very well for me.

    First I think about a "seed thought" which is the idea, ideation, concept, view, model, theme, moral, etc, that I want to convey to my target reader. I have one specific target reader in my mind. Then I spend a week "incubating" that seed thought, like an egg. I'll meditate on it, mull over it, pace around back and forth thinking about how to articulate that seed thought. Then something weird happens after a few days of this incubation where your psyche begins to murmur into your mind ideas, words, visions, pictures. It's like your talking to yourself: uttering words, terms, phrases, and whole sentences. Like something is dictating to you what to write. Some sort of a strong feeling builds up inside where it feels like you have to write it all down, to express it, manifest it. When that feeling gets very strong, and when I can see and feel the whole essay in my head, I sit down and type mindlessly. With this method, I've been able to write essay that were 50 pages long, nonstop, in one sitting.

    When I had the desire to write fiction - just a couple months ago - at first I struggled to write a story even a page long. I got fed up over not being able to write stories. Then I had the idea of perhaps using that method/procedure I use with my essays to write fictional stories. So I developed a seed thought, created a main character. Then I spent a week incubating the seed thought, until I can see some kind of movie starring my main character in my head. Once I can see the whole movie in my head, that weird thing happens where your psyche begins to murmur and give you flashes of scenes, ideas, visions, and so on. So I sat down and wrote at the right moment, and I ended up writing a 10,000 worded erotica story [rough first draft] in one day. I tried it again the following week and I wrote another 10,000 word story in 8 hours. Those first drafts lack good descriptive stuff though; I'm working on this.

    Right now I'm trying to mix outlining with the thing I do. I'm experimenting to see if it works. I write one chapter using my incubation method. Then once I have one chapter, I try to loosely outline the next chapter using that concept of Cause & Effect I learned from those craft books. So far, I'm having a hard time outlining even one chapter. I end up just sitting there.

    I thought there was something wrong with me, like I'll never write a fiction novel because I can't outline and preplan everything. Seeing how outlining doesn't work for many of you guys here has actually helped me see things differently: you can write a book without outlining, you guys have done it already!
    Last edited by Chloe007; 08-02-2017 at 09:39 AM.

  12. #62
    practical experience, FTW Fiender's Avatar
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    When I try to write without any outline or planning or character bios before hand, I find that I have an awful time putting words on the page.
    When I try to write with strict, moment to moment plotting, I find the process uninteresting, and I'm often not proud of the results.

    Soooo, I kind of go in between. I need some structure, so I'll have a dozen major goalposts or pivotal moments planned for the book, and let my characters/world get there in their own way. I'll often use mini-goalposts to drive a chapter so things don't get too off track but the bulk of the actual writing usually feels discovery-based.

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