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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Plotter Absolutism and the Panster

I saw a quote this week, something about how "most" writers don't sit down and simply write. That their stories are carefully plotted out beforehand so that they have a map of the story. Most writers? Really?

It's quotes like this that gave me fits when I first figured out I wanted to write stories. I've always leaned toward Seat of the Pants writing on the plotter - pantser spectrum. I was stronger on the pantsing before I was published, but I still only put together a loose synopsis. I call it a framework, not a map. It gives me a general idea of what I want to do and then I just aim that direction.

But all the how to be a writer books that I checked out of the library were written by plotter type people and they were all about how to create a story map. I contorted myself trying to be a plotter because I believed that was what "real" writers did. After a few weeks of torture, I realized plotting had made me hate writing and that I didn't want to do it anymore. I realized then I had two choices--I could either follow the writing books, hate wriing, and quit or I could toss the 3x5 index cards aside and have fun.

I decided to have fun.

So when I see quotes like the one I mentioned, it aggravates me. Believe it or not, plotter person, "most" writers don't have detailed maps of their stories. Many do. There are also many writers on my side of the pantser spectrum.

I wish when authors/writers gave advice they wouldn't be so absolute about it. Whoever said that quote I read could have conveyed the same message in different terms and still addressed their audience without adding to the pantsers' fears that something is wrong with the way they write. Because if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say there were many more pantsers thinking they have to plot to be "real" writers and very few plotters trying to force themselves to be pantsers.

Bottom line is whatever works for you to write is the way you should do it. No other writer can or should dictate your process.