Time to Grow up and ROW80 Check in

When I started writing I was very much a pantser, the term used for those writers who don’t plot but fly by the seat of their pants.  Recently though I’ve moved to the plotting camp.  Last week I wrote about the zen of small plates, and the fact that I should enjoy what time we have, specifically within the creative process.  I think my move to plotting is linked to this, and an acknowledgement that it is time to grow up.

For my first National Novel Writing Month, back in 2010, I sat down and bashed out 50,000 words easily.  It was thrilling flying into the blank white page, able to create whatever I liked.  Other pantsers that I have spoken to have a similar rush, and that’s what makes them love the writing method.

By the time I reached the end of my novel though, my plot had been shored up in so many places the believability of it was creaking to breaking point.  Surely though, that is what the re-writes are for?

Well, partly. But how many re-writes, drafts and revisions does it take before the thing is finished? I recently found a link on twitter which spoke about getting a novel done in 5 drafts.  My current MS has taken many more than that.  And enjoying the creative process is fine, but I think another lesson from the small plate is that we must also make the most of the time we have.  I feel like I’m wasting time with all these drafts. Time that could have been saved if I’d plotted the damn thing properly in the first place.

Yes, it’s time to grow up and get me a system.

Of course back when I started it I was doing it with no serious publishing goal.  I just drifted around playing with the characters and building the world and I don’t regret any of that because it was fun. However, now I can’t help wondering how closer I would be to finishing  if I’d planned that story properly from the start.

Sitting down to properly plot something (as I’m doing with this year’s National Novel Writing project) makes me feel rather like I’m suddenly taking this whole writing thing seriously.  That now I’m thinking about the final product and an author platform I simply don’t have the luxury of playing about as I used to.  Every time I get out my scene cards, the carefree days of writing childhood slip further behind me.  Is that a good thing? Or am in danger of losing some of the spontaneity that can be so crucial to a finished manuscript? Hmm…

Plus, when some one asks what you’re doing its fun to say ‘plotting’ and watch their reaction.  It’s surprising how many people look at you like you’re an evil genius getting ready to take over the world.

So, plotter of pantser? Or what made you realise that it was time to grow up and take things seriously?

If you are here for the Round of Word’s Update then you know all about Kait Nolan’s blog.

So far this week I have been plotting, or rather revising the plot that I have already. Marked the plot points and the pinch points (according to Rock Your Plot) and have cut some scenes and some characters.  I’m wondering if I can cut anymore without crying?

How about you?


12 thoughts on “Time to Grow up and ROW80 Check in

    • Does that feel likeyou’ve accomplished something before you get stuck in all teh technicalities of writing? Thehardest thing I find about plotting is the nil word count!

  1. I used to always just have an idea and try to write my story immediately. I wanted to get into it, dammit, screw all this planning and stuff to do beforehand! I did my first NaNo that way, and edited a bit of it, until I realised there was a whole thirty or forty page chunk that would need taking out and completely rewriting and I wasn’t invested enough in that story to bother.

    I actually kind of like the term “percolater”, which I think one of the NaNo people talked about on the NaNo blog last year. You don’t necessarily have a plan, but you know that there are plot elements A, B and C and that your characters need to get from X to Y to Z. However, the ideas are swirling around your head more than anything else and there’s still room to play when you sit down. This is pretty much how I’ve written my current WIP.

    I’ve never thought of telling people I’m “plotting.” Totally have to keep that one up my sleeve.

    • I like ‘percolater’. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I do normally know how the story is going to start and end, but its the large flabby middle where it all goes wrong and takes up my time. Thnaks for sharing.

  2. Oh wow, been there done that! I tried “pantsing” my third novel because Stephen King said “plotting is for dullards.” I had great fun, and ended up with 600 pages of meandering crap with no end in sight! King also said about writing advice to take what works for us and toss what doesn’t, so I tossed what he says about plotting! I think it’s great to try different methods and find what works for us. But I can’t imagine going through five revisions. You might want to check out Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel workshop. It’s a little pricey, but wow, is it the best thing I ever did for my writing, and will teach you how to get the novel you want from the novel you have in one or two. Whatever you do, if you’re learning, it’s not wasted time. Good luck finding the process that works for you!

    • Thanks for the comment. I honestly think the number of revisions was because I didn’t to the ground work. It’s my first novel though so the one I’m going to make the most mistakes on. Hopefully. Thanks for the tip on Holly Lisle. I’ll check that out.

  3. So, I claim pantser, but I’m also a bit of a plotter. I need to know a scene or two ahead. I can’t just sit at my computer in a depressive slump, but sometimes I just write until something strikes me.

    Most of my “pantsing” occurs when I’m just writing about what I want to happen in the book, but not actual scenes. After I get a general flow, I then work on the scenes. Is that still pantsing?

    • Hmm, I dunno. I still do alot of that kind of writing too. It helps to just have a splurge on what you want the book to be about. It sorts out a few things. Could we be hybrid writers or something?

  4. I’m a planster. It’s a combination of plotting and pantsing that allows me to move away from the plot but to have a place to get back to when I get lost

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