The Plotting Adventures of a Hardcore Pantser

Your babies are sitting around in a document all alone and possibly dying because you’re reading this post.

(*nervous laugh* Okay, okay, it’s been a while. Don’t throw rocks.)

I am a pantser.

I get a new idea and flip off of whatever chair I was probably eating cereal in to grab my laptop. And I write. Then I get stuck in an hour and I bang my head into a wall.

I have written five full length, finished manuscripts and pantsed every one of them. Why did I constantly put myself through the torture of hitting walls so quickly? Because I like the characters driving the story, I like to tell myself. And I like not knowing, in a way, how thing are going to turn out.

As you may remember (after such a long time), the last novel I wrote was exhausting when I finally made it to the macro editing stage because of the changes that occurred throughout the writing of the actual story. This happened in every single draft of every story I’ve ever written. At about the midway point of my stories, my writing style changed. I’m not sure why it happens, but it almost always does. And as my next project approached, I was struck with an idea:

Why if I get my crap together and plot?

Having previously failed at plotting, I researched new ways to do so. Outlining doesn’t work for me. The Three Act Structure isn’t good for me. Then I discovered the Snowflake Method.

I went about the method somewhat optimistically (“You? Optimistic?” I know), and it ended up being spectacular. For the first time ever, I knew what I was going to do with my story.

Then I hit step six. In step six of the Snowflake Method, you’re supposed to expand your story into a five-page synopsis. I absolutely could no do this. From this point on, it felt repetitive and unnecessary. But I had what I needed: an image of the basic flow and events of the story. So I moved on to something else: index cards. Oh, glorious index cards.

I debated on whether or not to use sticky notes (because I love them so very much), but…handwriting. I need the lines on the index cards. I sat and meticulously wrote out all of the scenes I could think of and the transitions between. Then I pinned them all up on a cork board.



By planning out the characters’ changing emotions as the story goes on, I can write out of order and do whatever the heck I want. And it is lovely.

I’ve had approximately seven cups of coffee in the last twenty-four hours. And it is lovely.

I must go now, mostly because my cat thinks that “kitten” is synonymous with “piranha” and I need a Band-Aid.



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