Monday, March 2, 2009

Got Pants?

If you've ever reached the middle of your manuscript before figuring out what your book was really about, you might be a Pantser.

If you start a scene thinking it's going in Direction A, only to be totally derailed by the actions of your MC who suddenly decides to go in Direction B, you might be a Pantser.

If your characters ever catch you by surprise, you might be a Pantser.

If the thought of outlining your novel before you write it gives you hives, you might be a Pantser.

If you start a 95k word novel with the vague premise that your MC is going to start in Location A, run into some pretty big Nameless Trouble, and eventually arrive in Location B with her lessons learned, you might be a Pantser.

If part of the excitement of writing is figuring out the story as you go, you might be a Pantser.

If your initial synopsis is filled with phrases like "Something BAD happens here followed by something WORSE" and "Hero somehow saves the day," you might be a Pantser.

If your idea of research is to do a quick Google while you're already in the middle of a scene, you might be a Pantser.

If the idea of creating a series bible that covers the next seven books sends you running for the nearest fifty pounds of chocolate, you might be a Pantser.

If you're unable to answer the question "Where did you come up with this?" with any degree of coherency, you might be a Pantser.

If you throw two characters into a situation just to see what happens, you might be a Pantser.

If you are delightfully surprised to find you've unconsciously set up a pretty cool plot twist waaaay before you realized that plot twist existed, you might be a Pantser.

If you read this list and agreed with three or more items on it, you might be a Pantser!


  1. I have NO pants. Wheeeeeee!

    I'm just happy I'm not the only one who knows what a bible is. Mentioned that at an RWA chapter meeting once and was met by nothing but blank stares and one "Oh, you write inspirationals?"

    Never went back...

  2. If your initial synopsis is filled with phrases like "Something BAD happens here followed by something WORSE" and "Hero somehow saves the day," you might be a Pantser.

    LMAO. *innocent look* I have no idea what you're talking about.

  3. Kerry - Says the owner of the coolest pants in the world. Pfft. And I don't know whether to laugh or cringe at the fact that no one in that chapter knew what a series bible was. Wow.

    Katy - LOL. I *may* have taken that sentence directly from your story board ...

  4. I'm a Pantser who's a wanna be Plotter. I know. Hard to believe the Diva of Details and Queen of Commas doesn't start a book knowing exactly what's going to happen on page 37, isn't it? But it's true.

    When I write the first draft, I do my utmost to banish my over-active Internal Editor to the deepest, darkest corner where killer dust bunnies live and let my Creative Spirit have free reign.

    Be prepared to take cover when my Internal Editor gets her first look at what my Creative Spirit produced. It can get downright brutal as the two duke it out. :-)

  5. Oddly enough, I'm a total Pantser who can't proceed with the draft once I know I've gone off track. I have to clean up each scene before moving on. :) It doesn't slow me down nearly as much as it sounds!

  6. Everything on the panster list scares me to death. So if I'm not a panster, who (or what) am I?

  7. You, my dear Anon, are a Plotter. Writers are generally split down the middle. Plotting frustrates Pantsers, inhibits their creative process, and generally grinds everything to a halt. Pantsing scares the creative genius right out of Plotters. :) There have been times when I've wished I was a Plotter, just for the security of knowing what comes next!

  8. I'm a panster trying to develop plotter habits to get more professional. My characters still do have the last say though.

  9. So, I'm a plotter. That makes sense; I have a thirty page outline for my novel. (Please, if this scares you, breathe deep.) Most of my creativity comes when I'm outlining. That's when I free write. That's when my characters speak to me. But once I get down to the craft (making all this work), then I need an outline.

    I should mention: I also have five page character sketches for the protagonists and antagonists.

    I must scare the beejeebees out of you.

  10. As usual, I defy categorization.
    I find it depends on the book I'm writing. No matter what, I have a general idea of what's going on and sometimes I write out the outline. Other works can be kept in my head. In any instance, I find that I'm at the mercy of the characters who will, even if I have an outline, let me know what really happened. Occasionally I'm thrown for a delighftful loop and I must rearrange, but I know where it's all headed. It's a healthy balance. :)

    Most of the items on your list don't apply, but some of them apply half way.

  11. Anon - lol. Doesn't scare me as much as make me flap my hands in frustration. I couldn't STAND to do all that. Besides, I wouldn't know what to say. I find out much of the story as I write. : )

    Peter - Whatever works for you, works. :)

    Nixy - Do you think you have to be a Plotter to be professional? I'm an extreme Pantser and my agent thinks it's great. All she's worried about is the finished product. The process belongs to me. Of course, if your Pantsing habits are getting you where you need to go, that's entirely different. ;)

  12. I think pantsers are prone to episodes of terror during times when the words aren't flowing, and it's during those times we become convinced we're doing everything wrong and should be writing according to some successful plotter author's guidelines---never mind that we KNOW from experience (because we've had many such episodes in the past) too much structure smothers our creativity with a wet pillow until it stops kicking.

    We get over it eventually because it's the fun of discovery ("Look, a shiny!") and the thrill of the unexpected development ("Where the heck did that come from?") that motivate us to keep writing so we can see how it works out in the end.

  13. LOL - Oh man, am I ever a Pantser! I can't stand the thought of outlines. They make me cringe. I think the synopsis makes me cringe worse, though.

    I start with an idea and think about it for a few days, and I usually know how the story begins, have a rough idea of how it will end, and I just have to figure out the middle. I have also learned that my first chapter will usually become trash and taken out. It always starts with chapter two for me.

    Awesome post, as always. =)

  14. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the term Pantser makes me think of someone running around jerking other peoples knickers down.

    Nearly every point on your list applies to me, but your knickers are safe in my company. So I, dear CJ, am a blissfully happy FOGWALKER. *grins*

  15. I'd like to be a Shortser. 'Cause that's where it's at. All the cool peeps.

    ...Pantsers on THE EDGE!

  16. Angelic Daughter - LOL!! Some days I'm definitely a pantser on the edge.


People who comment are made of awesomesauce with a side of WIN!

A Bad Culinary Decision

A few days ago, on a whim, I bought a bag of Lay's Potato Chips in their new Chicken and Waffles flavor. I figured my kids (who love bot...