Pantsing vs. Plotting. It’s the never-ending boxers vs. briefs debate between writers. You choose a side and defend it passionately. Over the years I’ve been very outspoken about being a pantser. Why sit around plotting what to write? Just write! It’s more organic that way. More meant-to-be.
Until I took on my latest project, anyway. A three-book romantic fantasy series. Not that I jumped right into it without a real idea of where it was going to go or anything…
Well, not really… Okay, yeah, I kinda did do that. But it worked! At least for the first book. I tore through it NaNo-style in a month and with another month or two of major rewriting and editing had it ready to send off to a publisher.
That’s the way writing is supposed to be. Total joy.
Followed by total frustration. I opened up the new file and started to write, seeking to find that joy in the second book that I’d experienced with the first. It didn’t show up. So I closed the computer and went off to do something else. I organized my office. I cleaned out the kids’ toys. I baked cookies and made three-dimensional snowflakes, stopping to write down ideas from time to time. And I realized I needed a plan.
I had a basic idea of what I wanted the three books to be, but I hadn’t actually outlined what I wanted from each one. So I sat down and wrote out the plot points from the first book (pretty easy since it was already written), then I started on the second and before I knew it I’d begun plotting and in the process immersed myself in a whole mythology I’d created for my characters without even realizing it.
Only then did I go back to pantsing it. Because I have plotted an outline, I can pick and choose which scenes to write and know where they’ll fit in. So I can write the scene I’m inspired to write and know it won’t end up in the garbage. Cue joyful, triumphant music.
Plotting. Who knew, right?