Friday, September 17, 2010

The Plantser Becomes a Planner

There is a belief that writers fall into one of two camps: either they plan out every detail of a story before they start writing (Planner) or they completely wing it (Pantser). The reality is there's a spectrum that we all fall on. Some plan a lot, but then let the story lead them once they start writing. Others wing it until they feel like they're getting lost, then sit down and figure out how to proceed. Jenny plots a few chapters ahead. I like to have an idea of how the main plot starts and ends with a few of the emotional beats I want to hit along the way.

That changed after our brainstorming session. I already took a lot away from the feedback I got from CWC in May. Then Jenny let me bounce ideas off her so I know where I need to be to continue. The discussion straightened out some things, curved some others. I have a better feel for exactly where I want to go with this revision.

One of the main things that came from it is that I need a detailed outline now. I have to plan out the main story arc and the secondary arcs step by bloody step. I also have to make sure the "other" methods of storytelling that I'm using support those arcs. Hence, a plan. A real plan. Not a loosey goosey plan (see previous post). Charts, graphs, maybe even the white board and cork board I bought a while back.

At first I was afraid that it would stifle any creativity. That the writing would seem--I don't know--dry. But I'm seeing now that the plan is actually liberating. I can play with it, because I'm not worrying about where to take the plot next. The plot's there. The characters are fully formed so I know how they will act.

It will probably be a while before I start something brand new. Vesta and TKoS both need rewrites. But I might have a more solid plan in place before I start whatever that new thing is. So I can play more.