A Lesson From the Panster’s Playbook

A Lesson From the Panster’s Playbook

If you read the WoC blog regularly, you might recall that I’m a Plotter Needtabe or, in other words, I recognize the value of plotting and would very much like plotting to be an integral part of my Writing Process, but well, I’m just not very good at it.

In my mind, plotting falls into the category of pre-writing, which has always felt like work to me, and therefore to be studiously avoided – mostly to my detriment. I like to jump right in to the more interesting parts of writing.

Sounds like Pantsing would be just perfect for someone with my lackadaisical work habits. You’d think, right? Alas, no. In general, Pantsing to me has always been too haphazard, and I have the tendency to wander seriously off course, wasting time and word count.

That being said, the other day I did find value in the Pantsing mindset. Allow me to set the stage. So, in my mind, a scene is churning. Without boring you with too much detail, let me just say that this scene is basically the first time the hero and heroine have meaningful page time together.

My dilemma, then, was – do I tell this scene from her POV or his? Believe when I say there were compelling reasons that I could have decided to go either way. Heck, I even contemplated bouncing between the two POV’s. Back and forth, back and forth my mind kept going on this issue with no resolution presenting that satisfied me.

What’s a writer to do?

Frustrated with my lack of time at the keyboard as I wrestled with this oh so important issue, I finally thought to hell with it and sat down and started writing – a la Pantser style. And how wonderful for me that I did.

What happened?

The correct POV for the scene just sorta happened. Thank you, Muses! Yep, without any more thoughts screwing things up, my fingers tip-tapped on the keyboard and her POV emerged. Now, if that were the end to it, this post might not have ever made it to the WoC site. But there was more. Indeed, there was.

What else happened?

As his POV for this scene was equally important, what the Muses also told me was that it too needed to appear on page, BUT two more chapters magically inserted themselves (still in my head at this point) between her POV and his. This is awesome in many ways:

  1. It inserts action between what might have otherwise been a long reflective type scene.
  2. It shows what the bad guys are up to, giving the reader superior knowledge.
  3. It ups my page count.
  4. It ups the stakes.

So, while I understand that for me and my writing process plotting is (or should be) an important part of my process, seems there’s a bit of the Pantser in me as well. Or maybe it is simply what Sandra pointed out in her June 19th post: “Maybe, just maybe, the trick is to get out of my story and back into hers.”

Maybe, just maybe, I need to tap into my inner child and learn how to get the hell out of my own way.




Lorinda Peake

Lorinda Peake wrote her first ditty when she was ten on an English seashore while visiting her British grandmother. From then on, her family either acted in or were treated to plays, skits, or commercial spoofs. In school, she wrote poetry, fables and short stories.

Years later, she tossed down a particularly bad novel and thought, “I could do at least that well.” She’s been pursuing the elusive published novel ever since. Recently, she joined a group of fellow writers who decided to cajole, bully, encourage, and sometimes baby each other along towards the publishing goal by setting real and measurable writing objectives with “motivational” consequences for non-attainment.

Lorinda loves a good romance – all the more if it is wrapped in a great fantasy setting. She lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband of 34 years.

4 thoughts on “A Lesson From the Panster’s Playbook

  1. Maybe just maybe you will eventually believe in yourself enough to follow your own advice! Just saying!

    Plotting, pantsing, plotting, pantsing – such a dilemma! I feel your pain as I am going through similar issues myself. I am a pantser but would like to combine that with at least a little bit of plotting – what’s a pantser to do?

    I guess the bottom line, for both of us – is WRITE! Put words on the page.

  2. I know the scene to which you are quandary-ing, and I agree, an argument could be made for each POV.

    Yes, the important thing to learn is to trust ourselves as writers and write our way through our uncertainties, but that can be freaking scary. For one thing, once we add word count to a story, it’s excruciating to remove those words, so if we sit and just start tap-tapping and we follow the wrong path, we’ve got to find the strength for large-scale deleting.

    One of my favorite tricks when I’m not exactly sure where the story goes next is to break out the old legal tablet and write long hand. Something about the slower speed of words to page gives me a few extra seconds to think as I go, and USUALLY, I find a smidge of clarity along the way. Even better, if the words don’t work, I don’t have to suffer the massive delete, because they never made it into my document!

  3. Hooray for progress!

    I’m a web/application designer by trade, and one of the things other designers on my team keep reminding us all is that we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In software, getting to “perfect” probably takes too long and too much validation, and besides, what’s perfect for one person won’t be perfect for everyone.

    I love Dawn’s idea of writing longhand so the experimental draft doesn’t get written in the document. That’s a wonderful technique for not getting too married to a scene or approach that might end up being far less than even good — and yet the idea might have needed to be explored in order to discover a better approach.

    Think I’ll add these insights to the little list starting to populate my monitor’s edge!

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