Thursday, September 4, 2014

Story Planning for Pantsers

Hi, my name is Mysti, and I'm a pantser.

You may nod in understanding, or you may ask, "What the heck is a pantser?" If the latter is true, here's a definition from Urban Dictionary:
Pantser - A NaNoWriMo term that means that you 'fly by the seat of your pants' when you are writing your novel. You have nothing but the absolute basics planned out for your novel.

This outlook towards writing is often opposed by the 'planner', who knows exactly what is going to happen, when it will happen, and where it will happen. There is often enmity between the two types of writers.

In recent times, I've been slowly recovering, thanks to many things.

  • NaNoWriMo: Writing 50,000 words of a novel in one month is not possible unless you have SOME sort of story plan...if you want something that can eventually pass as a novel one day, that is.
  • Co-authoring a secret project with a seasoned story planner (more on that when it's time to publish). Teaming up with someone more experienced in planning or simply being mentored by a great planner can help in the road to recovery from pantser-ism. 
  • The Art of Blurb Writing: A wonderful online course taught by author Beth Fred. Not only will you learn how to write a lovely, compelling blurb, but you'll be able to use the techniques to plan future stories. Which brings me to...
  • The Seven-Point Plot Plan: Based on the 3-Act Story Structure that basically applies to every story since cavemen times, this expanded outlining plan helps to lay out those major plot points so you've got a little framework to build on.

Without a doubt, I'll never be a meticulous story planner. That would kill the fun for me quicker than dancing with Miley Cyrus. Every outline, note, and draft is fluid and subject to change until published. But, I am starting to see the benefit in more careful planning, both before and during the writing process. It helps me not fall into plot holes so deep I can't scratch my way out. Once that happens, I lose my will to write, which can often mean death to a story. 

And that, my friends, is the real tragedy. No more dead stories! Grab a notebook and pen and take some time to plan before you write. Remember, there is no ONE right way to write anything. You have to find what works best for you. But, a little planning goes a long way!

Remember kids, stay in school and don't do pantsing. ~Mysti


  1. Nice post. I am in between the stern planner and the panzer. But the 7 point plot plan looks great. Thanks, Mysti.

  2. I am a pantser, and every effort undertaken to alter that format has created tsunami - level stress and discomfort. That doesn't mean I didn't succeed, I just got there kicking and screaming. That said, I'm always on the lookout for alternate ways to draw my ideas into reality without depending on pantsing to get there. THANKS for what you shared here -- judy


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