Just read an Article from the current Issue of “Writer’s Digest” May/June,2016, by Jeff Somers. titled
” Plotting vs. Pantsing.” talking about Outlining or not Outlining.
I want to share this with you because I found Mr.Somers thoughts on the subject very interesting. While it seems most suggest an Outline before sitting down at the keyboard to write, I find myself unable to do so. At first, I tried to plan my story from beginning, to the end, but it was easier to sit down and start. I did my research which helped set the scene . The location and year are planned, and characters have emerged.
In my first novel “JACK OF HEARTS” I wrote about the late 1940’s when I was a teen and fashioned most of my characters after those I grew up with. It was easy because I knew them. I was familiar with the year, not forgetting what it was like to be a teenager during that time period. I must admit I added a little spice here and there. After all, it is fiction.
“HIDDEN HILLS”, a trilogy, became about because being a fan of fantasy, I wondered how would an ancient clan of Fairies, hidden for centuries, cope with living in the 21st century? How would they face life as we know it? I dug into Irish Mythology which always fascinated me. As I read more and more, the characters emerged. First, a beautiful Queen, living between two worlds Then, the human, who discovers their village, and is loved by both the Queen and her sister. What follows is the conflict between the ancient Gods, the evil Goddess, Morrigan, and the Fairies. ( no longer hidden from the world.)
Just what is a Plotter and Pantsing?
A Plotter- sets up the logistics, and supply lines like a military campaign, and by the time fingers hit the keyboard, the entire battle is mapped out. In other words, a Plotter creates an Outline.
I do keep notes, and information about my characters, such as color of hair and eyes- body build, and personality traits. Maybe that is considered some sort of outline.
What is a Pantsing?
A Pantsing- just starts writing, giving the author the power to swing into the story with wild abandon, thereby making the art of writing more exhilarating.
However, Mr. Somers does state that there are times when both work. He calls it the HYBRID approach. The corner of pantsing is to always follow your instincts first. He states that pantsing comes into play when you start to struggle. The trick is not to give up but to change tactics.
It seems I am a Pantsing most of the time and a Plotter sometimes.