Plotting for a Pantser: The Great Experiment Part 1.2
May 24, 2021
I did not get very far on my plotting experiment. First, I had resistance, but I tried to push through. Then I crashed. So hard! But I am sticking to my whole Pavlovian alarm system for writing time, so I’m building awareness, or at the very least, guilt. (Hear alarm, don’t write, feel bad.) Then I got edits from my freelance editor and covid shots around the same time. It’s taken me a good month to go through everything. It’s like: review, get shot, recover, review, repeat.
Anywho, long rambling intro short… I’m excited to get back to big project writing! I’m starting the next draft of my novel, but I think I’m in a really good place and this next round won’t take too long. You know how, when you’ve got a story in your head, you also have all the background story for the characters but you don’t always include that backstory in the actual story because you don’t have to? Except sometimes you leave out a part that is important for clarity and tension? That’s where I’m at! There are a couple of details that I kept in my head that just didn’t quite come through in the text. (I was too busy showing not telling, and it was too subtle!) I can see exactly what I need to do, what I need to add back in, and where I need to add it. I’m happy with that.
So what does this have to do with plotting vs. pantsing? (Hmm. I guess I got sidetracked again. I wonder if there is a correlation between people with ADHD and plotting vs pantsing?) I think I was ruminating on how often I feel resistance whenever I hear story arc structures. Inciting incident, rising action, etc. or goal, thwart, etc. I get all prickly and growly about it and I don’t know why! I keep trying to dig down to the heart of the resistance; be introspective about it, but I’m not getting far. I just have this knee jerk reluctance, and it’s dumb because it’s not like I don’t use the same structures in my own writing! My stories have goals and inciting incidences! I just don’t name or outline them. It feels a little bit like giving pet names to old traumas. “And you, abandonment issue from that camping trip, you I’ll call Boopsie! Come meet Priscilla, my fear of commitment. Sit next to Anton, the voice of self-doubt. Tea anyone?”
But I still see the value in plotting and outlining and knowing what you’re doing ahead of time. That just makes sense on a system and efficiency level. So, after I finish this draft, I’m going to give plotting another go this summer for my next book. I wonder… if I go back and outline my finished book… would that help me outline the one I’m about to write? Can I keep practicing at it until I it will feel natural? To be continued. - wg
P.S. Can you tell that I don’t plan these posts either? I just start writing.