Today I like: Homemade ice cream
Not so much: Sponge Bob’s laugh. “Hehehehehehehe…” Shoot me.
Darlin’ do not fear what you don’t really know…
Writers generally fall into two camps: Plotters and Pantsers. Those who plan out their work (plotters) and those who wing it (pantsers). There’s sort of a tradition amongst writers to look down upon others who don’t follow your individual mantra. Plotters think pantsers are undisciplined. Pantsers think plotters are rigid. Blah Blah Blah. It’s like a literary Mommy Wars. Anyway, I fall into the plotting category. I’ve been thinking about this lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my “plotter-ish-ness” is really a reflection of my personality.
I like to know what’s going to happen. In my own life, I tend to plan things out. Lists, schedules…love them. So, it makes sense that I plan my work. It’s comfortable to know where my characters are going, and have an end goal. I write a detailed outline before I even write one word of a scene in a new novel.
Sometimes, however, this doesn’t work out, and that’s where I drift away from my outlines…and sometimes even my end goal. Where the flow of events in the story, the characters’ evolutions and plot points, decide that my plan is not where it’s at. This can be a little disconcerting…having to reorganize my thoughts and wrap my mind around a new direction. Usually with a good run and some serious mulling over, the new path takes shape. Cue re-write on the grand plan…but still, there is a grand plan.
That’s the great thing about fiction. You can always change course, and it’s like the original course didn’t happen. Ugh, plot hole. This scene is just not working. Guess what? Delete! Whoo hoo! It’s gone! New scene…all better. Things are back on track. Rolling toward the end goal.
Unfortunately, real life isn’t like that. You pick a course, write a scene, and you’re stuck with it. There’s no time to figure out the perfect reaction or bit of dialogue. No ability to control the other characters. One scenario can lead to another, and you feel like you’re trapped in the most poorly edited film ever recorded. When it’s all over, you can’t believe it happened…and you have absolutely no idea what to do with it. Where to take it…if mistakes have been made, how to fix it. The end goal is invisible…or at least seems out of reach.
Not knowing frightens me. I don’t do it well, in writing or life. I try to keep in mind, however, that sometimes in my books, the scenes I never saw coming teach my characters the best lessons. Even the most dedicated plotters have to be pantsers once in a while.
So are you a plotter or a pantser? In writing, life, or both?