Friday, April 29, 2011

Pantser Plotting Techiques

This week the Wicked Writer team is discussing plot techniques. My hope is that by the end of this week, by the time we get to my little contribution to the debate, that you will have had some good instruction, dialogue, etc., because it is doubtful that you’ll be getting any from me.

You see, I have written two novels. Currently, the second installation of my crossover horror/Christian vampire series is somewhere within the bowels of the Vamplit Publishing building, awaiting its day in the sun, so it’s either one book or two, depending upon your point of view.

In any case, I practically wrote them from the seat of my pants, and I am not altogether sure that I know how to write any other way. If you have not yet heard this from me, then allow me to take a moment to explain.

The way this works is that once I have an idea for my next project, I begin a process where my mind begins to form scenarios which I either allow to continue or I mentally dispose of in my head. In the initial phase of this, I just keep playing with the ideas until I have enough and I feel that the project can continue.

It is at this point that I begin to type out an outline. I do this only to assist the process until there begin to be so many ideas pouring forth that I can foresee the the body. Once I begin writing what I believe to be the beginning, my mind simply begins to play the scenes inside my head. Each day, I write until there is nothing left. Then I go away from the computer, allowing the scenes, dialogue, etc., to have their way with me inside my mind, whether I am in the shower, driving to work, preparing to fall asleep or dreaming. By the next day, the next bit of writing has been loaded and ready to be recorded.

Not very helpful, is it?

What do you think of this type of seat of your pants kind of writing? Is there anyone else out there who writes this same way? Should we begin a support group? God forbid I lose the gift. Whose advice would I seek out? Certainly not my own.

On the other hand, as the photo above can attest, a lot can happen in dreams... 


  1. I applaud you oh fellow seat of the pantser! I think most fair-minded people will say a writer either writes that way or with an outline and we must do what's natural for us.

    I don't feel there is a right way or a wrong way to write a book. Although I must say that I did recently read someone else's narrow opinion that there is only one right way: an outline.
    Don't agree with that at all.

    Jimmy I've read your work and can only say, keep doing what you're doing!
    And please, I'll be the first to sign up for the support group!
    Great post!

  2. I love the movie Inception, blows my mind away. I think it's funny how most authors consider themselves pantsers but then admit they do a little outlining at some point. Why do we hate and deny that we outline? A notebook full of chicken scratch, post-its all over the wall - those may or may not be the best forms of organizing your thoughts, but it still a method of organization no less, and thus a method on plotting. Embrace the methods! I promise they will not bite you!

    Jimmy - Great post and insight to your head. :)

  3. Actually, James, your writing style is quite common. Just remember back to your school days when you had to write a paper for English class and needed an outline. Most kids actually get the ideas in their head first and then write it down. I think the real purpose of an outline was to make us clear up the clutter in our heads and think clearly.

    Some of us just have lots of ideas to sort through.

    I don't think your style is odd. We're human, which means we're apt to change our minds constantly.

  4. Thanks to all of you, my friends. I read your comments during my day at work today, and they were a great encouragement to me while I navigated to the end of what was a very busy and trying week.
    This was a tough post to write since I don't feel all that comfortable advising folks on such a topic. I can write, but it's more of a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of thing.
    Once again, thanks for your lovely notes.
    Carole, Greg, J.D., have a great weekend. And J.D., nice work on the site.