PLOTTER VS. PANTSER: PLONTSER
I am a Plontser. There. I’ve confessed and I’m not going to take it back.
For those of you who entertain myriad imaginary friends, string prose together, and chip away at story portions until they become cohesive works, you know exactly what I mean. In the world of the writers there are two camps: plotters and pantsers.
Then there are pantsers, those who write by the seat-of-their-pants. Inspired by a miniscule fragment of characterization or dialogue tidbit, they can fly through an entire manuscript with only their imagination as their guides. I know of these writers, too, and am in awe of their ability to compose beauty without a safety net.
Then there is me. Straddling the fence. Longing to belong to either camp and winding up in the middle. With my left-brain tendencies, I start out with good intentions: character grids, goals, motivations, conflicts, inciting incidents, and dark moments.
With these elements, I can fashion a bang-up opening and know exactly where I’m going to end up. But to outline an entire story? Forget it. Because theres the Swamp: the murky middle, those twists and turns that takes the hero and heroine from exciting beginning to satisfying ending. I can’t outline the Swamp because I’d rather take the unexpected journey with my hero and heroine than to know the route.
So how do I get there, from point A to point B?
Write the scene.
It always comes down to the basics. I write the scene, pause, and somewhere out of the ether comes the next scene and the next, until I have a string of events. It takes weeks to write that first draft that no one sees but me, to let my mind gnaw away at the problems of my characters, to unearth the dinosaur bones as Stephen King so eloquently put in his masterpiece ON WRITING.
It takes much longer to see the shape of the story, to mold and edit it until it flows, until the underlying message speaks to me, and hopefully to a reader.
There, I’ve said it: I’m a proud Plontser, as much as I’d wish it otherwise. I’m going to embrace it.
What is your process?
A friend asked me for a dollar. He eyed the edges, smoothed it flat, and folded it in a pattern he held only in his mind. He spoke softly as he worked, as if he was infusing the process with a delicate enchantment. When he was done, he unfolded his hand and held out the [...]