Saturday, November 4, 2017

Musings of a Repentant Pantser

That may sound like the confession of a playground bully, but I'm not talking about actually pantsing anyone, I'm talking about pansting my novel.

Photo via Unsplash

In the world of writers, I'm the type who follows the call of my characters, their quirks and whims, to discover my finale. In other words, I'm a pantser.

It's not the most organized process, but it is fun and unexpected. So far, it's been ideal for a girl who came to writing from an entirely unrelated field.

However, October marked the first month of My First Ever Novel Writing Class, so I was required to switch gears. A few weeks in, I was assigned the task of outlining a novel I'd hardly begun to write with characters I barely knew. I was stumped. I tried. I really tried. But I could only come up with six events. Six. Measly. Events. I don't know if you've read anything lately, but six measly events do not a novel make.

I gave up. My instructor didn't know what my novel was about, right? She hadn't been in the critique group who had heard the first couple pages of Rapunzel. So I outlined the novel I finished in August, a Rumplestiltskin retelling. Since my goals for the novel writing course included rethinking the novel I'd finished as well as plotting out a new novel, I only felt slightly like a great big cheater pants.

Okay, maybe more than slightly.

The next week, my instructor, the amazing Mette Ivie Harrison, assigned a synopsis. Again, I tried. Due to a few exercises along the way,
  1. fleshing out my characters more fully,
  2. diagramming how the characters interacted with and influenced one another (aka my version of fleshing out events in the plot),
  3. returning to original sources to reread the original fairy tale,
I sat down at my computer and followed my characters through to a working synopsis. The process was as amazing as jumping in and writing.

That brings me to today, where I admit that there is something to this outlining thing. I have a better picture of where Novel Four is headed than I ever have before. I've also spent enough time away from Novel Three to have a good perspective about what needs to be tweaked, improved, and added.

Does this mean I have exchanged my proud-to-be-panster status for overly-exuberant plotter status? I enjoy chucking aside outlines and following characters in unexpected directions too much to become a die hard plotter. But I can finally see the benefits of spending more time getting to know my characters and story before actually writing it.

I might even stop mentally mocking the die-hard plotters for spending days and weeks and months organizing and reorganizing before writing. Maybe.
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For more about embarking on the writing journey, read:

And if any of you out there are interested in serving as reviewers, I'm offering the eBook version of Midnight Sisters  in exchange for honest reviews. For my philosophy on reviews, please read Reviews: Give 'em to me! Leave me a comment or send me an email if you're interested!


  1. I am a novelist but do write thousands of words a week on the blog. I've found that when I take the time to plan my posts for the month (leaving a bit of flexibility for things that may come up) my writing is better and my overall ability to focus and get things done (even ahead of time sometimes) it improved. I'm thrilled to hear that the writing is going better, can't wait for the next book.

  2. Very great read . You are indeed a novelist .

    1. Thanks Shareen! I enjoy the process. I just need to get a little faster at it!

  3. I'm a plotter. But I also learn a lot about my characters along the way. Thanks for sharing this experience. It reminds me about all the cool people/things we have helping us in this business. I'd love to do a review as well.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Melissa! You're fabulous!