Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Switching Teams

I had years to stew on my first novel, The Shadow Scribe. Decades actually. I would say that I had about 50% of it written in my head before I ever put it on paper. I knew the characters, the setting was crystal clear, the plot defined. I considered myself the ultimate plotter, with every chapter outlined before I ever started writing.
In contrast, my new idea is just that -- an idea. My plot diagram is complete (I use Aristotle’s Incline which I learned from Robert Ray’s The Weekend Novelist  but I also like the Screenplay Structure method) but when I try to outline it, I find myself writing things like “stuff happens here.”
I know that it is the kind of story that can only evolve as I write. Which means that I am about to have my first experience as a pantser. GASP! Some nights, I lay awake paralyzed by fear. What if I can't write it? What if it fizzles out?
But I also have moments of real optimism. I have no preconceived ideas of exactly how this story will go. I know my first novel is weaker because I could only imagine one way to write it. While I’m nervous about switching teams from plotter to pantser, I’m excited too.
There are lots of posts out there on plotters vs pantsers (like this excellent one by Roni at *Fiction Groupie*) so I’m not going to get into the definitions. But what I want to know is: Have you ever switched teams (plotter to pantser or pantser to plotter)? Do you ever wish you were one instead of the other?


  1. I'm a mix of the two so it's kind of like being a double agent.

    Good luck with the new project. I'm sure that you'll enjoy it as you get into it.

  2. every story is different and so i would assume the method of writing them would change too. I am definitely a by the seat of my pants girl but i also try to hem myself in by writing a synopsis as a guide before I start the MS.
    I think pantsing give u more freeedom so your characters can run wild but thats just IMHO

  3. I'm a pantser and I tried to be a plotter with my last wip. i ended up rewriting the entire thing. From scratch. With pen on paper, as it just didn't come out right. Still it was a good experiment, I learned a lot and I'm no longer afraid of trying something completely foreign to my usual methods. Good luck!

  4. I am a total pantser. Organization and I don't get along. LOL.

    I hopped over from Kittie Howard's blog to say hello and congratulate you on your award. I haven't been by in a while. :-)

  5. Jenna, I have a little something for you over at my place. Enjoy!

  6. It's okay. I've recently changed teams, too (though in the opposite direction). I'm sure you can handle it. Just don't psych yourself out too much. Good luck with the new idea. :)

  7. It depends on the book I'm writing. I change back and forth. Some ideas I know the entire plotline, some I don't until I get there. Good luck with your new idea! Glad I could stop by your blog!

  8. Thanks for the comments (and Kittie, thanks for the award!)

    I've discovered the plotter in me can't be restrained! I'm still researching but find myself outlining the research, keeping notes about where things will go, etc. I guess its hard to change your spots.

  9. Yes! I started out as a pantser and realized twenty-one chapters into the first draft that I needed to know (a lot) more about the plot before I could go on. I went back to the drawing board and wrote an outline -- which altered almost all of what I'd originally written. The story was better for it.

    I think projects that demand a different approach are good because they pull us out of our comfort zones. It's only out there that we grow as writers.

    Embrace and enjoy!