Friday, June 17, 2011

If you're not a pantser...

I still think 'pantser' sounds like a dirty word. But for writers it means someone who writes by the seat-of-their-pants. I'm a reformed pantser; not that there's anything wrong with it, but it's not the best method for me personally. Like most of us, I learned that from trial and error.

But. If you're an outliner, there's so much more to figure out after that. So far I've found a combination works best for me - I do a rough outline, then a detailed outline as I go, a few chapters ahead. I just can't plan everything at the start. At least, not yet. I'm still learning!

So I was looking at different outlining methods. Just like with writing as a whole, I don't think there's a good or bad process, just what works best for you.
  • For a very high-level outline (that even Pantsers may find helpful), there's the 9-box or Rubik's Cube outline
  • Justine Larbalestier talks about spreadsheets (though she actually uses Scrivener now, which I'm curious about). I am a finance dork and love Excel. Spreadsheets tempt me.
  • There's the Snowflake method, which seems... exhaustive... but I'm interested to experiment with.
  • Or you can outline primary plot points and characterization in half an hour.
I've mentioned, of course, that I already have a method that seems to work for me. At least, it's getting me to the finish line of a rough draft - a few of them, now. But I'm still curious to try these other methods.  Maybe something will make my life easier. Maybe something will make my life easier in revisions. If anyone can make revisions easier for me, I will bake you cupcakes. I'm pretty good at cupcakes. I promise.

But if that doesn't happen, well, I'm sure by the time I've ten or twelve drafts done I'll have found the perfect method. For me. This is an every-man-for-himself sort of thing.


Tracy Loewer said...

Haha, I never thought of the word pantser like that...but you're so right! I wish I had some tips for revision, but I'm afraid it's one of those things that needs to be toughed out. No cupcakes for me. :(

Old Kitty said...

Yikes!! These methods sound so well... methodical! As a confirmed panster - I balk at such logical thoroughness but I think if something strikes you as workable for your wip then go for it!! I'm trying to remember which of my writerly bloggie buddies swear by the spreadsheet method.. it works for them anyway and I say, good luck!!!!! And if you are a fan of Excel... methinks this method is calling to you!! :-)

Take care

erica and christy said...

I was a total pantser for my first book, which is more character driven. That didn't go so well for my second, which is more plot-driven and now I have to rewrite the whole thing to figure out what the heck went wrong! Which involves an outline (maybe a "map" is a better term, though!).

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

Hi Guinevere-

Thank you so much for the mention! I've used the Rubik's Cube, but I also highly recommend the Snowflake Method. I'm a confirmed plotter--don't know if I could write a novel by the seat of my pants, but maybe I'll give it a try. :)


Tess said...

I loosely use the 9 box outline . it's my favorite because you don't really have to know the exact details of box 6, 7 8 etc until you get there. It is a great plot-as-you-go tool.