PDA

View Full Version : Hey you! Where the ^%$# are you going?!?



ccarver30
10-09-2012, 04:45 PM
UGH. My stupid female MC just threw me for a loop. She was supposed to go to her cousin's house (she is quite upset at the male MC) but instead she goes to his best friend's house! WTFrick, MC?!? What am I supposed to do with this?!?

Maybe have to rewind and turn her on the path she was SUPPOSED to take... or... write the damn thing and see what happens!

p.s. I am a pantser.

Anninyn
10-09-2012, 04:47 PM
Write it, see where it goes! You can always go back if it doesn't work out.

My MC did something similar a while ago. She was supposed to snd a message for help and wait - but she decided to steal a ship and now we're in a lawless underground city I didn't know about.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
10-09-2012, 04:47 PM
Every single time I've fought my MC for control and won, I've been wrong. Let her go her way... she knows best.

BTW, I'm a pantser, too.

ccarver30
10-09-2012, 04:51 PM
Anni - that sounds so much more interesting! She took charge!

OFG - I'm going to go with it... for now! ;)

Anninyn
10-09-2012, 04:55 PM
Anni - that sounds so much more interesting! She took charge!

OFG - I'm going to go with it... for now! ;)

Yep, and it fits much better with her personality, too. But I'm off trail without a map now so have to re-do my outline for the next few chapters. I'm sort of a hybrid - I have a couple of pages of rough notes and a list of things that absolutely NEED to happen in the story, but other than that it's all by the seat of my pants.

And absolutely go with it.

Susan Littlefield
10-09-2012, 06:34 PM
Well, if you want to stifle the story, you could always send her back to her cousin's house.

However, if you want to allow your story to breathe, let her continue on her journey.

GiantRampagingPencil
10-09-2012, 06:40 PM
:D My plot was up to no good last night, sneaking around in my downtime.

quickWit
10-09-2012, 07:04 PM
UGH. My stupid female MC just threw me for a loop. She was supposed to go to her cousin's house (she is quite upset at the male MC) but instead she goes to his best friend's house! WTFrick, MC?!? What am I supposed to do with this?!?

Maybe have to rewind and turn her on the path she was SUPPOSED to take... or... write the damn thing and see what happens!

p.s. I am a pantser.

You could have the cousin answer the door at the best friends house wearing nothing but plastic wrap. Problem solved. :)

ccarver30
10-09-2012, 08:53 PM
You could have the cousin answer the door at the best friends house wearing nothing but plastic wrap. Problem solved. :)

In 19th century England/regency romance?! LOL I think not!

ccarver30
10-09-2012, 08:54 PM
She just knocked on the best friend's door... ;)

Phaeal
10-09-2012, 09:01 PM
Hell, I write super-detailed outlines, but I'll still give a character her head if she starts tugging at the reins.

When you're lost in the woods, the horse knows the quickest way home.

Snowstorm
10-09-2012, 09:20 PM
Go with it! I'm an outliner, so I had already dictated what one of my characters was supposed to. Well, she refused to follow along. But since it was NaNo when I wrote the novel, and one of the best things of NaNo is to let myself experiment, I went with it. She was right, of course. Darn it.

kkbe
10-09-2012, 09:24 PM
Seriously? Why not, right? Or is that, Why not write? Ahh, who cares.

Seriously, though. Who cares?

On the outside chance I should, and indeed, I should, as that's a tenet of aye-dub: RYFW!!!! My mcs sometimes surprise me by wanting to say things that are inappropriate. Or, they may do something that causes me painful embarrassment. What can I do? They have their agenda, I have mine. I try to accommodate as best I can, whilst staying true to the narrative. That's not always easy, as you've so eloquently stated, ccarver30. So, we grin and bear it, cross our fingers and toes and hope for the best.

My irritated mc just informed me that I've blathered on long enough, and now he's threatening to "Post Quick Repl--

jjdebenedictis
10-09-2012, 09:28 PM
I love to trot out this anecdote:

When Tolkien was writing Lord of the Rings, he never intended for there to be any character called Strider. This guy just showed up in the bar and attached himself to the party of Hobbits in a thoroughly dramatic way.

Tolkien was pretty upset when this happened. Who was this guy? The author had no idea why his brain had decided to toss this new character into the planned story.

But he kept writing, and Strider turned out to be Aragon, the long-lost king and a crucial character in the books. The story would not have been nearly as big or as rich without him.

Your subconscious has seen something good and is steering you toward it. Yes, this is a freaky experience because uncertainty can be terrifying, but go with it. Something great is about to happen in your story.

FloridianWriter
10-09-2012, 09:36 PM
One of my mcs just ditched the group....jerk. I want to pull him back but now that I've read this thread I'll let him do his own thing, for now.

buz
10-09-2012, 09:49 PM
I'm jealous. My characters never do anything I don't make them do. It seems like it would be so much easier if they just did it themselves...

GiantRampagingPencil
10-09-2012, 10:03 PM
You could have the cousin answer the door at the best friends house wearing nothing but plastic wrap. Problem solved. :)

They hadn't invented plastic wrap back then. Or even nudity, for that matter. And I'm pretty sure sex was conducted in full-length ballgowns, and top hats and tails, with servants conveying trays of bodily fluids between partners along with engraved letters of introduction.

mirandashell
10-09-2012, 10:14 PM
The joy of being a panster is being able to follow a trail. Just go with it. It will end up somewhere interesting.

Of course the pain of being a pantser is having to rewrite the start cos it doesn't fit with where your characters lead you........

KTC
10-09-2012, 10:36 PM
I'm a pantser too. I would write the damn thing and see what happens. I'm pretty much a pedestrian in the novels I write...I keep writing to see what happens. I love this kind of writing...where even your own expectations of what will happen next don't come to pass. GO WITH THE FLOW!

ccarver30
10-09-2012, 10:39 PM
So, I was in the can, thinking about where she is going with this, and I know exactly what her intent was (the little minx)! :D

mirandashell
10-09-2012, 10:44 PM
See? The characters know.....

Vindicated
10-09-2012, 10:49 PM
So, I was in the can, thinking about where she is going with this, and I know exactly what her intent was (the little minx)! :D

TMI, but I'm intrigued. Go on. :D

Just let the story go where it wishes. Otherwise you could sound like your forcing it and readers will catch on.

L.Blake
10-09-2012, 11:23 PM
Little minx huh? [O:] Good thing you let her go where she wanted.

L

Chasing the Horizon
10-09-2012, 11:25 PM
I'm a strict outliner, but I only outline what needs to happen, not how it has to happen (well, I may sketch ideas on how, but those can be ignored). This seems to give the characters enough freedom to have them obey, without letting them wander off in random, pointless directions. So I would just go on with whatever plot point was supposed to happen at the cousin's house with the best friend's house as the setting instead.

Beachgirl
10-10-2012, 05:50 AM
This is what I love about being a pantser. I'm working on the third book of a series that started out as a snarky environmental crime story. But then my MC started checking out her boss when she thought he wasn't looking and next thing I know I'm in the middle of a paranormal shifter romance.

Just let the characters run amock. You never know where they'll take you or how much fun you can have along the way.

GiantRampagingPencil
10-10-2012, 05:54 AM
Next time I'm blocked, I'll try sitting on the can.

kkbe
10-10-2012, 01:04 PM
Next time I'm blocked, I'll try sitting on the can.

GRP, this is not an original concept, I hate to tell ya. . .

That's why God made newspapers. And Reader's Digest. And crosswords. :D

ccarver30
10-10-2012, 04:58 PM
Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. It's nice to see that I am not alone! ;)

Barbara R.
10-10-2012, 05:14 PM
UGH. My stupid female MC just threw me for a loop. She was supposed to go to her cousin's house (she is quite upset at the male MC) but instead she goes to his best friend's house! WTFrick, MC?!? What am I supposed to do with this?!?

Maybe have to rewind and turn her on the path she was SUPPOSED to take... or... write the damn thing and see what happens!

p.s. I am a pantser.

Which is why I don't get "pantsers." I know they exist; I know they even succeed sometimes. My friend Diana Gabaldon claims she never outlines, and she's an honest woman so I have to believe her. Se's also a genius, though, so she doesn't count. But as a teacher and former literary agent, I have seen countless novels die on the vine for lack of planning; I've never seen one fail for excessive forethought. Novels are complicated! They have all these intricate little parts, each of which needs to function perfectly together to support the whole. There is nothing random about a good novel. The characters may have no idea what's going on, but the writer had better, or chances are the characters will end up in blind alleys or wandering in circles. It''s not up to them what they do; it's up to the writer. Should I really even need to say that?

Sorry if this sounds cranky. As a writing teacher, I try to take a "whatever works" attitude toward people's processes. I just hate to see writers investing hundreds or thousands of hours into castles built on sand, when it's not that much work to build a foundation first.

quickWit
10-10-2012, 05:15 PM
Next time I'm blocked, I'll try sitting on the can.

Have a bran muffin. That might help.

BethS
10-10-2012, 05:30 PM
My friend Diana Gabaldon claims she never outlines, and she's an honest woman so I have to believe her. Se's also a genius, though, so she doesn't count.

Of course she counts! :) Yes, she's brilliant, but she's also not the only writer who employs that method. Are all the others geniuses, too?

It's brain-wiring, not genius.

That said, I think there are plenty of writers who attempt the seat-of-the-pants method but aren't suited to it, which is why they end up with half-formed messes. You're either born to write this way or you're not. It can't be taught.

BethS
10-10-2012, 05:34 PM
UGH. My stupid female MC just threw me for a loop. She was supposed to go to her cousin's house (she is quite upset at the male MC) but instead she goes to his best friend's house! WTFrick, MC?!? What am I supposed to do with this?!?

Maybe have to rewind and turn her on the path she was SUPPOSED to take... or... write the damn thing and see what happens!

p.s. I am a pantser.

Write it and see what happens. I've learned to trust these unexpected jogs in the path. They often provide goldmines of new and surprising conflicts. And if it doesn't work, you should know quickly enough and can return to the original idea.

(fellow pantster)

Bufty
10-10-2012, 05:35 PM
Stories don't die on the vine for lack of planning per se.

They die because there is no life left in them- what has happened up to the point of dying is not enough to maintain any forward momentum. And that condition is not the exclusive terrain of those who prefer to let the story develop organically.



Which is why I don't get "pantsers." I know they exist; I know they even succeed sometimes. My friend Diana Gabaldon claims she never outlines, and she's an honest woman so I have to believe her. Se's also a genius, though, so she doesn't count. But as a teacher and former literary agent, I have seen countless novels die on the vine for lack of planning; I've never seen one fail for excessive forethought. Novels are complicated! They have all these intricate little parts, each of which needs to function perfectly together to support the whole. There is nothing random about a good novel. The characters may have no idea what's going on, but the writer had better, or chances are the characters will end up in blind alleys or wandering in circles. It''s not up to them what they do; it's up to the writer. Should I really even need to say that?

Sorry if this sounds cranky. As a writing teacher, I try to take a "whatever works" attitude toward people's processes. I just hate to see writers investing hundreds or thousands of hours into castles built on sand, when it's not that much work to build a foundation first.

BethS
10-10-2012, 05:39 PM
Stories don't die on the vine for lack of planning per se.

They die because there is no life left in them- what has happened up to the point of dying is not enough to maintain any forward momentum. And that condition is not the exclusive terrain of those who prefer to let the story develop organically.

This!

Barbara R.
10-10-2012, 06:52 PM
Stories don't die on the vine for lack of planning per se.

They die because there is no life left in them- what has happened up to the point of dying is not enough to maintain any forward momentum. And that condition is not the exclusive terrain of those who prefer to let the story develop organically.

Sometimes. Other times they die because the writer has written herself into a corner and can't get out, or has lost track of what the story was supposed to be about, or has made too many random decisions that undermine the story's impetus. Well-plotted attempts fail too, sometimes--I'd never deny it. But they have, I believe, a better chance of succeeding. I can imagine building a bookshelf without a detailed plan (though I'd probably mess it up, being extremely untalented with non-verbal tools), but who would attempt to build a house that way, let alone a cathedral?

And yet, as Beth points out, some people do manage. Because I can make sense of it no other way, I tell myself that those people did have a plan all along, consciously or unconsciously; they just didn't write it down.

Anninyn
10-10-2012, 07:38 PM
Sometimes. Other times they die because the writer has written herself into a corner and can't get out, or has lost track of what the story was supposed to be about, or has made too many random decisions that undermine the story's impetus. Well-plotted attempts fail too, sometimes--I'd never deny it. But they have, I believe, a better chance of succeeding. I can imagine building a bookshelf without a detailed plan (though I'd probably mess it up, being extremely untalented with non-verbal tools), but who would attempt to build a house that way, let alone a cathedral?

And yet, as Beth points out, some people do manage. Because I can make sense of it no other way, I tell myself that those people did have a plan all along, consciously or unconsciously; they just didn't write it down.

Just because you can't make sense of something doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or that it doesn't work.

I can't make sense of complex mathematics but it clearly still exists and works. Assuming that people aren't writing - or succeeding to write - in a certain way because you don't personally 'get it' is a little short-sighted.

I've planned and I've not planned. I usually have a vague idea of plot plus a few details of things that have to happen. Everything else - nope, no idea.

If a route I take proves not to work, I go back and take another. When I edit, I do all the little things that makes story hang together and look planned.

I'm not a success yet, but plenty of authors who use this method are successes. I think sometimes it is as simple as this: My subconscious often knows a better story than my conscious mind.

ccarver30
10-10-2012, 07:51 PM
I've tried to outline- I just can't. I have a general idea of things and want x, y and z to happen, but having things completely structured will dwindle MY creativity.

I clicked on a snowflake method link twice and had to wear a straitjacket for a week and hide under a bed. It was a nightmare for me just looking at it.

On a personal note, Diana wrote my sister's favorite romance novel. :)

In the end, to each their own. As long as the bottom line is a great story, it doesn't really matter how you got there, IMHO.

ccarver30
10-10-2012, 07:54 PM
p.s. If I would have gone with what *I* had planned, I think the story would have had a dull lull. With her going to the friend's house, it is going to add the element I needed to find.

Barbara R.
10-10-2012, 07:54 PM
Just because you can't make sense of something doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or that it doesn't work.

I can't make sense of complex mathematics but it clearly still exists and works. Assuming that people aren't writing - or succeeding to write - in a certain way because you don't personally 'get it' is a little short-sighted.

I've planned and I've not planned. I usually have a vague idea of plot plus a few details of things that have to happen. Everything else - nope, no idea.

If a route I take proves not to work, I go back and take another. When I edit, I do all the little things that makes story hang together and look planned.

I'm not a success yet, but plenty of authors who use this method are successes. I think sometimes it is as simple as this: My subconscious often knows a better story than my conscious mind.

Thanks for pointing out my short-sightedness about opinions I'd mistakenly attributed to long experience as a writer, literary agent, and teacher. I did mention that there are some first-rate writers, Diana G. among them, as well as Beth S., who work without outlines. But they are exceptions. The vast majority of published writers I know have spent at least as much time planning their novels as writing them.

Still, you make a couple of good points. An awful lot can be repaired with editing; and the unconscious mind is a fertile, indeed essential resource for writers. In my opinion, you need both parts of the mind working in tandem: the unconscious mind to produce the ideas, images and emotional impetus; the conscious mind to give shape and purpose to that material.

Barbara R.
10-10-2012, 08:01 PM
p.s. If I would have gone with what *I* had planned, I think the story would have had a dull lull. With her going to the friend's house, it is going to add the element I needed to find.

Excellent! That's the subconscious kicking in, saying "Maybe try it this way." It's not ALL about planning--the planning is just to provide the imagination with some parameters within which it can run wild.

ccarver30
10-10-2012, 08:11 PM
Excellent! That's the subconscious kicking in, saying "Maybe try it this way." It's not ALL about planning--the planning is just to provide the imagination with some parameters within which it can run wild.

Indeed.

dangerousbill
10-10-2012, 08:15 PM
UGH. My stupid female MC just threw me for a loop. She was supposed to go to her cousin's house (she is quite upset at the male MC) but instead she goes to his best friend's house!


Women--can't plot with 'em, can't plot without 'em.

Bufty
10-10-2012, 08:17 PM
They are not 'exceptions' to anything except what is your own opinion of how things are, based upon your own experience and that I can understand.

But as far as I am aware there is no statistical evidence or basis on which to substantiate any global statement to the effect that either outliners or non-outliners in any way form the majority of successful writers or are more likely to produce a finished novel either quicker or with less editing or revising than the other.



Thanks for pointing out my short-sightedness about opinions I'd mistakenly attributed to long experience as a writer, literary agent, and teacher. I did mention that there are some first-rate writers, Diana G. among them, as well as Beth S., who work without outlines. But they are exceptions.

The vast majority of published writers I know have spent at least as much time planning their novels as writing them.

Still, you make a couple of good points. An awful lot can be repaired with editing; and the unconscious mind is a fertile, indeed essential resource for writers. In my opinion, you need both parts of the mind working in tandem: the unconscious mind to produce the ideas, images and emotional impetus; the conscious mind to give shape and purpose to that material.

Barbara R.
10-10-2012, 08:28 PM
They are not 'exceptions' to anything except what is your own opinion of how things are, based upon your own experience and that I can understand.

But as far as I am aware there is no statistical evidence or basis on which to substantiate any global statement to the effect that either outliners or non-outliners in any way form the majority of successful writers or are more likely to produce a finished novel either quicker or with less editing or revising than the other.

None that I know of, either, though it would be interesting to find out that it has been studied---maybe someone here will know. My claim was based on purely anecdotal accounts from the hundreds of published writers I've known. Most, though not all, plot their work before (and during) the writing. But every writer is different. I once sat on a panel with a bunch of mystery writers. Someone asked if we know whodunnit before we write the books. One writer said that he never writes a word until he has the plot down pat. A second said that if he knew who did it, he wouldn't need to write the book.

There are no rules in writing; it's whatever works for the individual. But I still reckon the odds of succeeding are better for writers who plan their novels.

jjdebenedictis
10-10-2012, 10:05 PM
The brain has two channels for problem solving.

The part of your brain that solves logic problems like Sudoku is conscious; you're aware of every step of the process. This is the part of your brain that is engaged when you outline a story.

The other mode of problem-solving seems more mysterious because it's non-conscious (subconscious.) We don't know that it's happening when it's happening. At best, we kind of go blank for a moment while our brain sorts stuff out.

The part of your brain that solves crossword puzzles uses this second mode of problem-solving. It takes many disparate ideas and tries to slot them together into something new that still makes sense. You don't know it's happening; you just get a flash of inspiration when it's done--a whole thought that appears to come from nowhere.

This type of problem-solving is also the one that gives you gut instincts like "that guy in the car park worries me..." It's your brain assembling little clues into a big picture that makes sense. You don't know it's happening, but you understand the outcome as an instinct.

People who are pantsers are very well-developed problem-solvers in the non-conscious mode.

But that mode of problem-solving is, by definition, not logical, so yes, it's possible to write yourself into a corner when you rely on it.

However, if the person is sufficiently creative, their non-conscious problem-solving abilities are so powerful that the person will always be able to think of a way out of that corner. They'll come up with some brilliant and surprising plot point that organically blooms out of what they've already written--their non-conscious mind is just that in control of what it's doing.

A logical-brain outliner is aware of all the problem-solving steps that go into them assembling a story, so they're less hamstrung when they run out of ideas. It's always clear where the issue is.

With an intuitive pantser, they have to keep the story in mind and just let it ferment. They have no indication of when or whether their brain will work out the issues.

And having said all that? Everybody uses both modes of problem-solving. We might lean more one way or the other, but pantsers employ logic sometimes and outliners have flashes of inspiration.

You may only be seeing the outlining portion of what successful writers do, because it's the one that shows externally. The intuitive side of problem-solving is invisible both to the observer and the writer themself.

ULTRAGOTHA
10-10-2012, 10:31 PM
p.s. If I would have gone with what *I* had planned, I think the story would have had a dull lull. With her going to the friend's house, it is going to add the element I needed to find.

YEAH!

But just out of curiosity, how does a woman in Regency England get away with going to the house of a ... batchelor I presume? It will certainly add ... spice!

Bufty
10-10-2012, 10:43 PM
John Le Carre and Lee Child are two admitted non-outliners and best-selling authors that spring immediately to mind.

ccarver30
10-10-2012, 11:29 PM
YEAH!

But just out of curiosity, how does a woman in Regency England get away with going to the house of a ... batchelor I presume? It will certainly add ... spice!

You'll have to buy the book. ;)

I kid.
I will PM you.

Motley
10-10-2012, 11:52 PM
I consider myself a pantser, but I think you can only be a pantser up to a point. It's a first draft kind of flow. It's not the only method ever used by pantsers to create a finished novel or story. The editing process is more rigid. You can't keep flowing forever.

I did find it interesting that Barbara R. compared writing a novel to building a house. In my mind, the two things are so dissimilar as to make the comparison ludicrous. Just an example of how minds function so differently.

BethS
10-10-2012, 11:56 PM
JJ, what a great post. I have never seen it described so well. Particularly this part:




People who are pantsers are very well-developed problem-solvers in the non-conscious mode.

But that mode of problem-solving is, by definition, not logical, so yes, it's possible to write yourself into a corner when you rely on it.

However, if the person is sufficiently creative, their non-conscious problem-solving abilities are so powerful that the person will always be able to think of a way out of that corner. They'll come up with some brilliant and surprising plot point that organically blooms out of what they've already written--their non-conscious mind is just that in control of what it's doing.

...

With an intuitive pantser, they have to keep the story in mind and just let it ferment. They have no indication of when or whether their brain will work out the issues.

BethS
10-11-2012, 12:00 AM
I think you can only be a pantser up to a point. It's a first draft kind of flow. ...The editing process is more rigid.

It works differently for everyone, but for myself, there's only one draft, or hundreds, depending on how you look at it. I constantly fiddle as I write, doing revisions and editing as I go. And it's all a big organic process.

BethS
10-11-2012, 12:20 AM
those people did have a plan all along, consciously or unconsciously; they just didn't write it down.

Diana talks about discovering the story as if she were raising continents from the ocean floor, the mountain peaks showing up first, followed by the interconnecting land masses. The whole thing is all there, held in some n space inside her mind, but it reveals itself in disconnected (at first) pieces that gradually stick together.

For myself, I write scenes pretty much in order. But I'm not so sure the entire story is there in my head. Or at least, only the written part is, which is like an organism that continually expands, and the bigger it gets, the more it attracts new story bits. Somewhere in my brain, there's a processing center that makes note of each plot point and character arc, as well as the thousands of details that have gone into the creating the story so far. This center then produces new ideas and connections based on the accumulated information. So each new development in the story is already deeply connected to prior developments, if in sometimes surprising ways that I never saw coming. My unconcious brain writes the story, or at least suggests it; my conscious brain finds the words to tell it.

The written story is all in my head (I rarely make notes, not even of a character's eye color; I literally remember everything) (wish this were true of other areas in my life), but the unwritten part is unformed, nebulous, sometimes very elusive. It's a matter of waiting for it to sprout.

Btw, thanks for the lovely compliment in your other post. :)

Barbara R.
10-11-2012, 12:34 AM
Diana talks about discovering the story as if she were raising continents from the ocean floor, the mountain peaks showing up first, followed by the interconnecting land masses. The whole thing is all there, held in some n space inside her mind, but it reveals itself in disconnected (at first) pieces that gradually stick together...

:)

Yes, that makes sense to me. Another point, I think, is that writers don't always write every book the same way, first because each book presents in a unique way, and second because we may change over time, as we should if we're not to stagnate.

Case in point: I'm currently editing a book that I wrote 22 years ago. It's being reissued for the first time as an ebook, once I get through the edit. It was meant to be just a proofreading of the digitalized copy, but once I started reading, I couldn't resist tinkering. I wrote it so long ago that it was almost like editing someone else's book, except that I'm taking a lot more liberties than I would if I weren't the author. I find that my style has evolved into something much tighter than in the past, which is probably related to the fact that now I invest more in the front end.

In the end what matters is the product, not the process.

WildScribe
10-11-2012, 12:55 AM
Dedicated pantster here. I can't outline. I've tried. The characters aren't fully developed as people in my head. I have an idea of the general shape of the plot, but I rarely have much more information about a story, when I start, than you would find on a back cover blurb. I have to figure out how they get into and out of all of that trouble on my own, as I go along with them. I've tried to plot because of people like you, who claim it is 'better', but it doesn't work for me, and I've learned to do what I'm successful at, and not what others tell me I should.

BethS
10-11-2012, 01:04 AM
In the end what matters is the product, not the process.

Absolutely! If I may ask, which book are your planning to reissue?

Barbara R.
10-11-2012, 01:27 AM
It's SAVING GRACE I'm working on now. After that CAFE NEVO, if my publisher hasn't given up on me by then.

GiantRampagingPencil
10-11-2012, 01:58 AM
However, if the person is sufficiently creative, their non-conscious problem-solving abilities are so powerful that the person will always be able to think of a way out of that corner. They'll come up with some brilliant and surprising plot point that organically blooms out of what they've already written--their non-conscious mind is just that in control of what it's doing.


With an intuitive pantser, they have to keep the story in mind and just let it ferment. They have no indication of when or whether their brain will work out the issues.
.[/B]

I often have the Nike philosophy of writing quoted to me: just do it. But I need that fermenting time away from the word-count grind--that time to allow my mind to lay fallow. But that's just me.

Barbara R.
10-11-2012, 02:26 AM
And having said all that? Everybody uses both modes of problem-solving. We might lean more one way or the other, but pantsers employ logic sometimes and outliners have flashes of inspiration.

You may only be seeing the outlining portion of what successful writers do, because it's the one that shows externally. The intuitive side of problem-solving is invisible both to the observer and the writer themself.

Well said. I would just add that the fermenting you describe so well goes on no matter what method the writer uses. Regardless of how many notes we write and charts we fill out, all characters start out as stick figures until we write them into existence through actual scenes. What the planning does, in my experience, is to give some parameters to the fermenting that goes on behind the scenes, so that more of the ideas that result are useful.

Mr Flibble
10-11-2012, 03:23 AM
Originally Posted by jjdebenedictis http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7665251#post7665251)

However, if the person is sufficiently creative, their non-conscious problem-solving abilities are so powerful that the person will always be able to think of a way out of that corner. They'll come up with some brilliant and surprising plot point that organically blooms out of what they've already written--their non-conscious mind is just that in control of what it's doing.The organic blooming - absolutely (don't know about the brilliant bit :D). The amount of times I've put something in just as a little detail (fantasy worldbuilding) and it then becomes absolutely vital to the depth of the plot or the climax...

And the extent of my planning is 'I have this vague idea for a character, he's, let's see a bloke. Um, a bounty hunter. In this vague idea of a world, oh it's a dark city, kinda bladerunnery. Kewl, bladerunner with magic. Something will explode by the end. Let's write!' The character and the world develop as I write them. But I usually manage to get an explosion in there somewhere.



Another point, I think, is that writers don't always write every book the same way, Very true - I only know how to write the books I have written. I don't yet know how to write the books I haven;t. I wrote one book from the middle outwards, which was a bit weird.

BethS
10-11-2012, 03:34 AM
Someone sent me a link that was so appropriate to this discussion that I can't resist posting it here. This article (http://irmadriessen.nl/publicaties/that-crafty-feeling-zadie-smith/)is the text of a lecture given by Zadie Smith to the writing students at Columbia University.

She starts out by talking about two types of writers: Macro Planners and Micro Managers. It's all interesting stuff, but for me, the money quotes were this--



I know Macro Planners who obsessively exchange possible endings for one another, who take characters out and put them back in, reverse the order of chapters and perform frequent--for me, unthinkable—radical surgery on their novels: moving the setting of a book from London to Berlin, for example, or changing the title. I can’t stand to hear them speak about all this, not because I disapprove, but because other people’s methods are always so incomprehensible and horrifying.


--because it made me laugh. The bolded statement is so true, and never made more evident than by this discussion here. And this--



I am a Micro Manager. I start at the first sentence of a novel and I finish at the last. It would never occur to me to choose among three different endings because I haven’t the slightest idea of the ending until I get to it, a fact that will surprise no one who has read my novels. Macro Planners have their houses largely built from day one, and so their obsession is internal—they’re forever moving the furniture. They’ll put a chair in the bedroom, the lounge, the kitchen and then back in the bedroom again. Micro Managers build a house floor by floor, discretely and in its entirety. Each floor needs to be sturdy and fully decorated with all the furniture in place before the next is built on top of it. [...]

Because Micro Managers have no grand plan, their novels exist only in their present moment, in a sensibility, in the novel’s tonal frequency line by line. When I begin a novel I feel there is nothing of that novel outside of the sentences I am setting down. I have to be very careful: the whole nature of the thing changes by the choice of a few words.


--because it's so true of me. This whole idea of the novel being built floor by floor, and the sense of the story growing only out of the words, and how important that those words be precise, is exactly what I've attempted to explain time and again to other writers. But not as eloquently as she did.

Wiskel
10-11-2012, 04:17 PM
Write it, see where it goes! You can always go back if it doesn't work out.

My MC did something similar a while ago. She was supposed to snd a message for help and wait - but she decided to steal a ship and now we're in a lawless underground city I didn't know about.

Damn. i want to read this.

I think your MC and one of mine might be related. Mine was meant to be going for help on a stolen ship, decided to sail to a mark on a stolen map instead and found an army preparing to invade a hidden valley of dinosaurs. She's currently chasing her nemesis up a GIANT tree, surrounded by velociraptors, none of which were meant to be in my story.

I think I accepted I couldn't get her to do what I wanted a long time ago, but none of my other characters can either.

Craig

ccarver30
10-11-2012, 05:15 PM
Dedicated pantster here. I can't outline. I've tried. The characters aren't fully developed as people in my head. I have an idea of the general shape of the plot, but I rarely have much more information about a story, when I start, than you would find on a back cover blurb. I have to figure out how they get into and out of all of that trouble on my own, as I go along with them. I've tried to plot because of people like you, who claim it is 'better', but it doesn't work for me, and I've learned to do what I'm successful at, and not what others tell me I should.

OH HAI TWIN. Sums me up exactly.

TNK
10-12-2012, 09:43 AM
Dedicated pantster here. I can't outline. I've tried. The characters aren't fully developed as people in my head. I have an idea of the general shape of the plot, but I rarely have much more information about a story, when I start, than you would find on a back cover blurb. I have to figure out how they get into and out of all of that trouble on my own, as I go along with them. I've tried to plot because of people like you, who claim it is 'better', but it doesn't work for me, and I've learned to do what I'm successful at, and not what others tell me I should.

I'm the same way. I've tried outlining for the same reason and found it tedious. I've found I need to have the first draft written before I can plan anything out. It's like I'm drawing a picture in my head and only once it's finished can I got back and see what needs to be changed.

Vaulted
10-19-2012, 02:18 PM
I'm a planner, but I've learned something important: Don't plan in cold blood.

If you lay out the plot mechanically, you get exactly what the pantsers complain about, which is a dead fish. But if you let the concept and the characters possess you intimately, you can have a good structure and a good story.


I had a moment with my WIP in which I was stuck on an early scene which I had expected to write itself. The idea occurred to me to suddenly kill off one of my secondary characters. The unexpectedness and unknown possibilities excited me.

But in the end I decided to trust my initial idea, and it was the right decision because, as I discovered, the real problem was that a different character in the scene was made of cardboard - I'd put her in the scene without realising this and she was killing it. I put in the imaginative effort to bring her to life, and the scene worked.

And I'm glad that secondary character is still alive, because there are all sorts of terrible things I want to do to her later in the series ;)