Author Topic: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...  (Read 2981 times)  

Offline Andrew Ashling

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #25 on: February 10, 2014, 05:24:39 AM »
I'm a bit of a hybrid.

I don't start writing before I know the end of the story. I also know the major turns. I write nothing down, but maybe that still counts as plotting.
What happens in between the major turns, and how they happen, I sort of discover while writing. In that respect I'm a pantser maybe.

In short: I plot the what and I'm a pantser in as far as the how is concerned.












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Offline LBrent

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #26 on: February 10, 2014, 05:41:46 AM »

In short: I plot the what and I'm a pantser in as far as the how is concerned.

Exactly!

Offline vrabinec

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2014, 05:46:17 AM »
I enjoy dreaming the stuff up. Thinking of some creepy thing that happens to someone, and then thinking of some way to work that into the story. I also enjoy setting a character loose and following along for a while, though, I find I end up cutting a lot of stuff that way. I guess I'm a hybrid.

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Offline valeriec80

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #28 on: February 10, 2014, 06:42:43 AM »
CARRIE, by Stephen King, was written by a dyed-in-the-wool pantser. Yet you claim the joy in CARRIE is how it happens, not what happens next.

I meant to convey that watching the remake of Carrie is about enjoying how it happens.

Obviously, when I read Carrie for the first time, I had no idea what was going to happen. Well... except for those little excerpts from all those books like I Survived Red Prom, talking about how everyone died at prom. So, I guess I knew something bad was going to happen.

Anyway, in a lot of ways, Carrie is a tragedy. And it even follows the Shakespearean naming conventions for tragedies! King was teaching high school at the time, probably teaching Shakespeare. I wonder if he did that on purpose...

Whatever, Stephen King books actually aren't books I read to find out what happens or how it happens. I read Stephen King books just to hear the characters think. (I should formulate a theory for that, lol.) So, I guess you're right that it's not necessarily the best theory out there. :P
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 07:05:45 AM by valeriec80 »
   

Offline lee27

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #29 on: February 10, 2014, 06:56:24 AM »
i've turned into a Micro-plotter, meaning that every day before I start to write I work out with pen and paper what a scene is about, what HAS to happen and what CANNOT happen. Also, I know from the beginning how a story will end. I need that.

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Offline Christa Wick

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #30 on: February 10, 2014, 06:56:48 AM »
Valerie - your theory comports with why I'm a pantser and, more so, why I became a writer and significantly reduced the amount of reading I do for enjoyment (seemed like everything I was reading, I knew the end before I was a third in -- and TV is so much worse when you can guess whodunnit based on the guest actors cast on some shows). I don't like knowing how it turns out until I finish -- then I go back and add a few lines here or there so it doesn't feel like it's coming completely out of left field to the reader. I have to learn to become a "how it happens" writer, though, because I need to write longer and not get block the minute I decide how to end it.

Offline vrabinec

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #31 on: February 10, 2014, 07:22:04 AM »
I don't like knowing how it turns out until I finish --

Yeah, but even when I'm plotting, I don't know how it turns out. My ending changed 3 times. Just because you have an ending in mind to give the thing some structure, doesn't mean that ending isn't subject to the whims of the pantster in you.

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #32 on: February 10, 2014, 07:26:34 AM »
It's an interesting idea, but not really true for me. Yes, I enjoy finding out "what happens," but what that means for me in the context of romance is, how the EMOTIONAL journey unfolds. I mean, sure, they're going to fall in love, they're going to have sex (in that order, cause that's how I roll), and they're going to get married (ditto). But what happens along the way, how they overcome their baggage and work out their issues together--in my books, THAT's "what happens."

I do know a lot of pieces of the story (in my head, not outlined) before I start, and I know their backstories intimately, and I've done a lot of research, but there's a fair amount of "discovery" along the way, and almost always something quite different from what I originally intended.

Online KateDanley

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #33 on: February 10, 2014, 08:01:28 AM »
VERY interesting theory!  I'm one of those people that will end friendships if you spoil the ending of a movie for me.  I don't want to know what happens before I experience it!  I want to have all the joy of discovery all to myself!  MINE!  MINE!  MINE!

And I consider my best works to be the ones I have pants.  I have fallen on plotting times due to the need for speed and oversight and such.  But when I'm at the top of my game, it is when I just sit down at the keyboard and type, discovering twists and turns I couldn't possibly have figured out ahead of time.

Veeeeerrrry interesting theory.  Hmmm...

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Offline Becca Mills

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #34 on: February 10, 2014, 08:13:58 AM »
A pantser could never write a first paragraph like those John Irving crafted for books like THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP and A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY.

Irving is a dyed-in-the-wool plotter, and it shows because he includes things in his opening paragraphs that a pantser could never promise, because they haven't been through the story yet.

...

At best, a pantser could write a paragraph like that, but only with the provision that he'd have to come back to it later and probably extensively revise it.

Like Lynn said, pansters can revise, so there's absolutely no reason one of their books couldn't open with a passage that requires knowledge of the entire plot. Pantsing vs. plotting is just one's mechanism for coming up with a first draft. Not very many of us can publish unrevised first drafts and have them be anything but a steaming pile of poo. I certainly can't. Since I come up with the plot as I draft, I revise very heavily. The "cuts" file for my WIP stands at about 25K words, and the manuscript itself is only 116K.




Offline Deke

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #35 on: February 10, 2014, 09:31:11 AM »
I believe the events of a story should add up to something.  That involves planning and structure. Otherwise it's just a lot of stuff happening that may or may not have any underlying meaning. Some of that pants'd writing is great and entertaining - especially short stories - but longer novels that are pants'd often seem unfocused and meandering with tacked on conclusions (yeah, I'm talking about you Stephen King and George Martin.)

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Offline rjspears

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #36 on: February 10, 2014, 12:12:07 PM »
In the pantser vs. plotter debate, I'm definitely in the plotter camp.  There are a lot of reasons why I plot. 

The main reason I plot is for saving time.  I have a day job and work my writing around it.  I don't have time to waste writing my way down dead streets and dim alleyways. 

I also like to see the overall dramatic flow of the story -- the hills and valleys. 

Now, how detailed is my plot and how much do I stick with it? 

Not that detailed and I don't always stick to it.  I have a sketchy outline -- something like, "They went into town and were attacked my nomads.  To escape, they found an abandoned car and took it and drove away, leaving one of their own behind in their panic..." 

I've written a couple books in which the characters took over and things ended very differently than I outlined.    But I need that outline.  I think I can safely say, if I don't have an outline, I can't write.  I might throw parts of it out, but I need that road map or else I'm lost. 

BTW, backtracking to Carrie, while I love the book (it's what makes me want to write horror), I think the end of the movie versions are much more satisfying than the book.  In the book, Carrie crawls off and dies.  In the movie, she has an ultimate face-off with the most influential person in her life, her mother.  That's just my $.02 cents worth.
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Online KateDanley

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #37 on: February 10, 2014, 12:15:06 PM »
I believe the events of a story should add up to something.  That involves planning and structure. Otherwise it's just a lot of stuff happening that may or may not have any underlying meaning. Some of that pants'd writing is great and entertaining - especially short stories - but longer novels that are pants'd often seem unfocused and meandering with tacked on conclusions (yeah, I'm talking about you Stephen King and George Martin.)

Sounds like you really like to plot.  So to take it back to the  OP's hypothesis, in your own life as a reader and watcher, do you like to know the endings of books and movies before you see them?  Would you say you prefer how things happen rather than what happens?

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Offline lynnfromthesouth

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #38 on: February 10, 2014, 12:36:46 PM »
I believe the events of a story should add up to something.  That involves planning and structure. Otherwise it's just a lot of stuff happening that may or may not have any underlying meaning. Some of that pants'd writing is great and entertaining - especially short stories - but longer novels that are pants'd often seem unfocused and meandering with tacked on conclusions (yeah, I'm talking about you Stephen King and George Martin.)

This is the problem with this discussion. You've assumed that plotting = structure, and no plotting = no structure, and that's false. It's just as easy to meander when you are plotting as it is when you are pantsing, and you can both learn to structure as a pantser (or have an innate sense of it), as well edit to a balanced finished product. I can name several devout plotters who are meanderers or who had serious structure problems. Just because you've put something in an outline doesn't mean the reader needs it or will care about it. It happens on both sides.

The real problem with many writers is killing their darlings, not whether that book was plotted. And some big authors get to a point where editors either don't challenge them, or the publishing company just doesn't care (I'm really not sure, probably both happen). Both sides have to cut the fat in places.

« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 12:38:42 PM by LynnBlackmar »

Offline Carradee

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #39 on: February 10, 2014, 01:13:58 PM »
I'm actually a pantser (who might plot out main points after I've written the first 10% of the story, but not always) who skips ahead in TV shows, books, movies
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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #40 on: February 10, 2014, 01:27:17 PM »
In the pantser vs. plotter debate, I'm definitely in the plotter camp.

The more I read pantser/plotter discussions, the more I think there aren't two separate camps, that we all fall somewhere on a continuum. There are pantsers who say they go into things knowing only a few plot points, but there are outliners who describe their outlines as that sketchy too. I read a book on her writing by Elizabeth George, and her outlines are so detailed she all but writes the book twice. On the other extreme are pantsers who simply start writing with nothing but a character or two or a starting scene. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

As to the original theory of the thread, as an outliner I'd be a data point in favor. Until Kindle made it too difficult, I always read the last page or two of any book I was considering. That was my reaction to Gone With the Wind. However, as someone else said, I'm writing romance, so of course generally speaking the outcome is known from the start.


Offline jsparks

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #41 on: February 10, 2014, 01:45:14 PM »
As an aside (kind of), I'd love to see a breakdown of planners/pantsers and how-it-happens/what-happens people alongside a Meyers-Briggs breakdown. I'd bet the planners are J-types and the pantsers are P-types!

Heh. Fits me, I'm a pantser and a P.
I also hate spoilers with a passion. If you tell me the ending of a book, I'm not going to read it. I'll skip boring parts in books (like long descriptions) because... I want to know what happens!
I'm also a romance writer, though. Maybe this is why my romances are unusually plot heavy.

Offline Deke

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #42 on: February 10, 2014, 01:48:04 PM »
"Sounds like you really like to plot.  So to take it back to the  OP's hypothesis, in your own life as a reader and watcher, do you like to know the endings of books and movies before you see them?  Would you say you prefer how things happen rather than what happens?"

I plot, but I sure don't like it.  I'm stuck on a story right now and banging my head against the wall, envious of pantsers. I suppose the hypothesis has some merit in that the sort of story-situations that interest me carry the seed of the ultimate conflict (the climax) right in the start of the story. Take a plotted movie like "Guns of Navarone"...it's a very classic men on a mission story where the goal is spelled out clearly: go destroy these guns. There are obstacles and complications along the way. Plans go awry and people are betrayed. But that ultimate goal remains the same.

Compare that to "Safe Harbor" a Nick Sparks movie I caught recently on Netflix. A woman on the run from the law winds up in a small town. Stuff happens: she rents a run down cabin, gets a job, falls for a hunky local guy. Other than staying hidden, however, she has no goal. You can assume that the climax will be a confrontation between her and the lawman chasing her, but that's the sort of bookend structure that has very little to do with the stuff in the middle. Some people love that stuff, I find it sort of meh...mildly diverting but nothing very substantial.

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Offline valeriec80

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #43 on: February 10, 2014, 02:38:42 PM »
The more I read pantser/plotter discussions, the more I think there aren't two separate camps, that we all fall somewhere on a continuum. There are pantsers who say they go into things knowing only a few plot points, but there are outliners who describe their outlines as that sketchy too. I read a book on her writing by Elizabeth George, and her outlines are so detailed she all but writes the book twice. On the other extreme are pantsers who simply start writing with nothing but a character or two or a starting scene. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

I'm sure you're right. I take great pleasure in putting things in categories. It's like my favorite thing to do. And when I make categories, I like them to be in sets of opposition. (Yes, William Blake is one of my favorite poets/philosophers).

Anyway, however, I recognize that real life really defies categorization much of the time. For some reason, knowing this does not take any of the joy from categorizing things. :P
   

Online daringnovelist

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Re: My Plotting vs. Pantsing theory...
« Reply #44 on: February 10, 2014, 03:40:30 PM »
I think you are half right about the pantsing/plotting split.  (I am a person who does both and always has, btw.)

I think that you are right about the appeal of each approach; there's a lot of fun in exploring what's going to happen -- but that also includes not knowing how.

But of the people I know who write those twisty big surprise stories (the "Fight Club" type stories) most of those who do it successfully know exactly where they are going when they sit down.  The people I know who are most successful at creating the "how" stories, where what happens next in terms of plot doesn't matter, tend to be pantsers.

I suppose it is ironic, but you often have to take the opposite approach from what you want to give the audience.  Lots of surprises? Plan. A well-trod path? Keep it interesting in the moment.

But, as I said, I say this as a person who does both. And I think nearly every book requires some of both.  And all authors use their own interests and tools, no matter what kind of story.

Camille

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