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Thread: Pansters and revisions.....

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  1. #3
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Not where you last saw me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dysnomia View Post
    The story's more or less all laid out, I know more or less what I want out of it, and while there are still plenty of parts where I'm unsure how things happen and spend considerable time in revision hell rewriting and rewriting to figure it out... Suddenly, I come to a point where I'm like--I know how this shit happens. In fact, I know how the entire story's going to play out. How my characters get from the A to B to C to D, how the story starts, how it all links together, how my story can even be summarized, and while yeah, I might trunk it all in the end, but for this draft--I know how everything works.

    And since I'm in revisions, I figured I should write it all down just so I make sure I do have a story intact. Because that's what everyone has to do right? You have to write that query letter... or synopsis... eventually... and make sure you do have a story somewhere... So I do that, and then I go start writing this new draft...

    And suddenly, I'm stumped. I hit a block, and I am 70%* sure this feeling's there because I know how the story plays out, leaving me nothing left to explore the way I had to for the first draft/in revisions, and this leaves me... Stuck.

    [tl;dr] So I'm wondering, how do you pantsers do it? When you've reached the point where you're like oh, this is the story! Except it's too early, and you still need to draft it out, a whole draft in fact, but nothing's coming out and that's maybe to be expected, because so far you relied on not knowing the details to write? How do you get the next draft down then? How?
    I don't know how much help I can be since it appears our approaches to story differ. I am a 100% pantser and story is more than what happened and how it happened; it's also about why it happened and how my character(s) felt and dealt with it internally as well as externally. And I'm never blocked for much more than a day while writing—often distracted by daily life, but not blocked. Blocks occur when I'm casting about for a story idea; that's when I end up sending out a "casting call" for characters to tell me their stories and if one interests me enough, I start writing. If not, I keep looking for an interesting character with an interesting enough story.

    So the story isn't done until those characters are alive on the page and I can feel their emotions with them.

    My process looks something like this:

    • A character "comes" to me and says "let me tell you my story" and I start writing, carrying on a dialogue (so to speak) with the character all along the way, asking questions, etc.
    • I proof and revise as I go so there's little to do in that regard on the backend—some but not much.
    • The first full revision pass is all about the character(s) and the reader's emotions. Are they there, can I still feel them? If not, fix. (Donald Maass' The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface helps me identify where I can get that down right.)
    • The next and final pass is about action scenes and corresponding sequels or follow-ups. This is for pacing and to verify emotions and the effects of the action scenes on the character(s). (Huge help with this was and is my copy of Thanks, But This Isn't for Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected by Jessica Morrell.)

    And, yes, I have far too many books on the craft of writing, but there ya go.
    Last edited by Ari Meermans; 05-27-2019 at 11:50 AM.
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