Ode to a Pantser
Oh how I love your spontaneous ways—
rules and conformity aren’t for you.
Your story winds however the wind blows;
your characters admittedly, too.
How free, how brilliant, you must always feel
as the end draws on each passing day.
To know your story grew by leaps and bounds,
though in no one particular way.
The glorious finish everyone seeks
is not for someone as great as you.
Except that one novel takes a lifetime.
Perhaps, rethink an outline or two.
Sierra Kummings (c) 2015
If you write, what kind of writer are you?
Do you spend months planning, prepping, agonizing over outlines?
Or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants, improvising as you go along?
If you weren’t able to tell by my poem, I sadly exist in the second camp. Or at least that’s where my heart resides. I paid for it, too, with a year of valuable time, and at the expense of cutting 60,000 soaked-in-my-blood words.
But I learned my lesson.
No really, I did.
I didn’t start my second novel until I had a basic outline. And each day before I start writing, I expand the outline, and plot the next scene… then I dig in.
I admit I worried writing wouldn’t be as much fun this way, but surprisingly, it is. My characters still run the show, but they move with purpose now. No more tangents about what happened when they were two. Yeah, it was cute, and extremely funny, but probably something only their parent (me) would care about.
So I ask this of my fellow writers…
What has been your process?
Any advice for pantsers-at-heart like me?
And lastly, my fellow pantsers, sisters and brothers of my soul:
No question for you, just a dare to go outside your comfort zone. Try writing a short story. Between 5,000 to 8,000 words. But before you start, answer these: What is your story about? Where is it set? Who is your target audience? Who are the main characters? What is the conflict? How will it be resolved? Then make an outline. How sparse or detailed is up to you. Just make sure it includes how many words you are allowing for each section.
When you’re finished, I’d love to hear how it went. Was it as torturous as having your fingernails ripped off one by one? Or did you find the writing easier once you had the foundation? Also, feel free to post a link in the comment section to your blog or website for followers to read the story you wrote.
For those of you that need a prompt, try this: Your character inherits something that changes their life completely. (What it is, whether the change is good or bad, and what genre the story falls into, is up to you.)
Until next week…