I’m trying not to be a ‘pantser’ anymore.
For those unfamiliar with this phrase, you might be squinting at the screen wondering what I’m on about, but for those nodding in understanding I salute you.
Being a ‘pantser’ is very much a case of writing by the seat of your little author pants not knowing where the story will take you and forgetting structure as it goes along. You have no plan, and only prayers to help you when you get to the meaty, deeper nooks the tale goes. In my case, being a pantser also includes little “aha!” moments as I consider another element to add to the book and then forget how many elements there actually are – so I go all the way back around and plot / plan afterwards.
As you can see, not very helpful.
So with a new idea gnawing away at the insides of my brain begging me to write the characters and put pretty little pictures on its dedicated Pinterest board, I thought I would exercise some self-control and actually consider the book. Where is it going throughout the structure? What do the characters do, where have they been? And more questions, before I begin writing.
When I’ve ‘pantsed’ in the past (which is too much fun to say) I always have an end game in mind. In fact a lot of the time my ideas come to me with the ending already sewn up, it’s just the events leading up to that I have to think about. The characters appear pretty much fully formed too, though as I mentioned in the Kill Your Darlings post, not all of them make the finished novel.
In this new idea, though, I’ve generated characters I know have a purpose. Nobody will be superfluous. Every one has their own story arch, their place, their defining moment and their finale. And, not to make a mistake that I’ve come across in the past, I am going to speak to my villain. I normally treat villains like a necessary thing to a plot, or at least the antagonist, but there’s a twist in this one which I’m not going to go into detail about, and I’m really excited to speak to my unexpected antagonist.
I like colour-coding. I’m a visual learner, a test I did as part of training for my first ever job told me I learn from diagrams, colours, images and watching people do the required steps or process, rather than being told what to do.
I feel this is almost going to be like reaching up into my brain, trying to take hold of an individual strand of string and untangle it from the rest, then focus on that string, write about it, and repeat the same process until the fuzzball of an idea is somewhat manageable and I have the proper starting point.
There’s an echo of a great opening line currently buzzing around my head. It occurred to me just before I fell asleep last night, and of course I can’t remember it. But the playlist is already set for many hours of writing (and potential procrastination finding the ‘omg this fits so well’ songs to add to it) and plotting. I am determined to have a first draft of this out in the next few months, the word count being an intentional 90,000 or so. I have a tendency to add scenes in, but I’m going to be strict on myself and write these scenes separately, seeing if they fit in at a later time.
I am not going to pants! I am going to plan and plan well.
I’ll be covered in felt tip ink by the end of this process, I’m sure of it.