Sunday, June 2, 2013

Plot vs. Pants - Surviving a month long writing commitment

So Junowrimo is upon us. How do you do it?

Well, I try to write 1000 words a day everyday, so month long writing comps are that much of a stretch for me. Honestly, with Writeclub on Friday nights, I probably hit that mark most months. But I know that's not the norm. I'm just a crazy writer lady.

So how do you survive a commitment like Juno or Nano or one of the CampNanos? The first step is finding a story to tell. I love the new shiny and hate revision, so writing something for me is like really yummy cake. So I have plot bunnies hopping around me most days.

But when you get down to it, to pull off month long writing business, you need a plan. And that boils down to - do you pants or plot?

Pantsing -
Pantsing is when you go in all willy-nilly and write scene after scene and then glue, piece, and duct them together and it comes out like a freaking piece of art. You 'fly by the seat of your pants' see?

Plotting is obviously when you sit down and write beginning to end what you want to happen.

Both have merit and neither is wrong, but for me personally, I like a mix of the two.

I used to be all pants, all the time. Pants, pants, pants. I lived for that. And you know what? I had to spend a lot more time in the revision cave. An I don't like it there. So last year I wrote a historical novel. I had to plot it out because it was based on a real event and I had to have a time line for the story. You know what? it really worked for me. So when Nano rolled around, I tried it again. And sure enough, I had a complete, coherent, mostly clean draft.

But I like to write what I like to write. Or sometimes my character make choices I didn't intend for them to make. And it wrecks the plot I so carefully crafted. That's why I saw, I blend the two.

My new M.O. is to make a basic, but vague plot and try to follow. But if a scene jumps at me or my characters go left when they were supposed to go right, it's okay. No harm,no foul right?

Whether you pants or plot, the important thing is that you're flexible. If you are so dead set on the plot you wrote that you don't alow for change when the story wants to go another direction, then you probably won't have as strong of a story as you planned. If you have an idea for an intricate story but you're too stubborn to write it out because you're a pantser, you'll probably cry later.

Let your story and its needs dictate how you treat that manuscript. Each one is different and if you listen it will tell you how to take it from an idea or a character to a book on a shelf.

Good luck with your writing this month!

I'll be running sprints from @Junowrimo and @Frinightswrites this month, so I'll see you there!

Are you a pantser or plotter? Let me know in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I am a plotter all the way, but have moments of adding a new scene on the fly when there is an unexpected gap between a scene I just finished and what I had planned for the next scene. Those are fun moments.