Plotting For Pantsers

Posted on 14/11/2013 by


Me: I need my brain for other things.
Arkem: Plotting.
Me: Yep. (Pause) It sounds so much worse when you say it.

Writers tend to fall into two categories: plotters and pantsers (as in by-the-seat-of-their-pants). I have always fallen into the make-it-up-as-I-go-along category, stumbling blindly through the story woodland and bumping into things and calling them plot.

I never know what I’m doing in the first draft. I don’t have scene breakdowns, I don’t think about act structure or pacing,* I just follow my characters about and hope for the best.

Once I’ve travelled a certain distance through the narrative everything tends to fall into place and I might sketch out an idea of the events that have to follow but that is the wildest extent of my plotting. Until now.

I am planning this new book. I have plots and subplots and… I have to tell you it’s freaking me out more than a little.

Back when I wrote scripts I had a tendency to write my scene breakdowns after I’d written the first draft** because I hated having to transition from a direction like ‘they bicker’ to actual, you know, bickering. I am deeply afraid I’m going to end up with an actual outline or something and then find I can’t write the thing.

Not that I’m panicking. I don’t know what I’m doing, but that’s fine. That’s normal. I’m still flailing about in the dark, I just have a map. That I can’t read. Because it’s dark. But I guess when I bump into things I’ll know what they are?


* Okay, I do, I think about it. I think, I should be concerned about that. I wonder how one does it deliberately. And then I just let my backbrain take care of it, which seems to work out fairly well.

** Which, you know, is wrong. And bad. Kids, don’t follow my example.