The Process of Pantsing

Blehhhh I hate plotting bleeuuurrggghhhhhhh…

There are two types of writers: pantsers and plotters. I prefer pantsing, partly because I like the word “pants,” but mostly because it pains me to force-assemble a plot.

Also because I think about this gif whenever I think of “pantsing.”

I’m lucky for the most part, as far as writing/the creative process goes. I’m kind of weird so I have lots of weird thoughts, and a lot of them are pretty legitimate story ideas. For horror, weird ideas aren’t necessarily very helpful (spooky ideas are, though), but for my science fiction, weird ideas are my bread and buttah.

While I was sitting in an engineering class, learning how to use MatLab, I had what would probably be considered a really strange thought: This code can make the space shuttle take off, so I bet I could make someone poop with it.

I have a bunch of notebooks that I scribble ideas in. New day, new page. It’s a mess. I also have a notepad on my iPhone, Word documents assigned to every story, etc. I have a terrible memory. If I think of something cool while I’m falling asleep at night, I will not remember it in the morning. I have to write it down. A lot of the time, I’ll wake up in the morning with a scribbled note on the bedside notepad–Connor can’t play guitar because he has no rhythm / vampire with no game haha–and not even remember writing it down. There might as well be a cadre of magical elves that write down ideas for me.

Maybe there is.

The trick with weird thoughts is not to immediately think, That was really weird. I should seek therapy. It’s to immediately think, Oohhh that was really weird. I wonder what I can do with it!

Doing something with it requires plotting. Because I can have all the cool single events that I want, but they’re entirely meaningless when they’re not connected. I’ve written upwards of 6,000 words in one sitting when I have a do something idea, but then will spend a week trying to figure out how to tie both ends of it into my story.

After NaNoWriMo, my manuscript resembles something a crazy person would write down. Scenes jump hither and yon. Characters are dead and alive and dead again. Someone says something and then immediately follows it with, “I didn’t say that. That was stupid. Think of something better, Taylor. Something something pizza.”

Plotting, for me, is like being a farmer with a farm that’s suffering from drought. There’s a fresh, full lake ten miles away, and I have a shovel to dig an irrigation canal with. Without the canal, my crops will wither and die, but it’s going to take so much effort to dig that canal. By the time I’m done, I’m dehydrated and I have blisters on my hands, but it was totally worth it. My crops are alive, my farm is finished, and I’m so elated I think, “I WANT ANOTHER FARM!”

And then I whine about digging another canal. I really like farms, though. Farms with strong female protagonists and probably robots. Okay, this analogy might have run its course.

did make someone poop with code (an imaginary person, and it wasn’t just pooping), and I’ve even worked it into a story (The Thirteenth House (working title) which is due to be finished in 20somethingsomething), so plotting has its place, I suppose. But I’ll always be a pantser in my heart of hearts.

So what about you, dear reader? Are you a pantser or a plotter? And why?

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