Friday, May 11, 2012

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

By: Casey Crow 

Ever wonder where authors get their inspiration? Everywhere! Movies, crazy relatives, intriguing friends, songs, dreams – you name it. The trick is turning that flicker of an idea into 300-400 pages. My first manuscript DANCE WITH A MILLIONAIRE came from a dream. I woke up and having no knowledge of the writing industry, I sat down at my computer and typed as much as I could about my heroine, my hero, then plot, and whatever else came to mind. It created a snowball effect because the faster my fingers moved across the keyboard, the more ideas that flowed. Pretty soon I had the basis for a novel.

I didn’t know it at the time – because as I’ve said, I failed to do any research about writing, but turns out I was somewhere between a plotter and pantser. I wrote the basic outline, but needed to fly into the midst to find the remaining 150 pages. The half plotter, half pantser method seemed to work for me, and I used it for my second manuscript. HUSTLER’S DREAM required a timeline as the heroine is a professional pool player traveling the competitive circuit. Following a necessary calendar perfectly accommodated my planner side, but I had to stretch the imagination and dig into my left brain to come up with enough material to complete editor criteria.  

 In the very unscientific pole I’ve taken, most writers are like me – somewhere in the middle. Others are extreme plotters – detailing outlines before they even begin to write. While some, like RWA Hall of Famer and multiple RITA winner Jo Beverly simply flip open their laptops and go to town. The good news is there is no correct method. Find what works best for you and don’t be afraid to try different methods. For example, I tried the all pantser approach for FAST DREAM, the sequel to HUSTLER'S DREAM. It was a disaster and soon gave into the need for an outline because I got to the point where I was sitting down at the computer everyday and staring at a blank page for so long, Facebook pulled me to the dark side. 

 So, I'll keep my middle ground approach - plotting the main characters and pantser on the secondary ones. Where do you fall? Have you tried both methods and lived to tell the tale or do you always straddle the fence with great success? Or maybe not, but we’ll keep writing for the love of it!

PS - In other news - I've signed with literary agent Nicole Resciniti after HUSTLER'S DREAM came in second in the RT American Idol contest!


Wynter Daniels said...

Congrats on getting an agent! That's awesome.
I'm definitely more plotter than pantser, but I do fall into that somewhere in between category.

Callie Croix said...

Hey, way to go! I dream of getting an agent someday...

I'm definitely a plotter. To the nth degree. I need most of the bones laid out before I can begin drafting, otherwise I get lost :)

Naima Simone said...

Yay, Casey! Congratulations on the agent!

I'm definitely a plotter. I may come to a scene and it sometimes deviates from the original outline--or I may throw something completely unexpected in--but I always go back to my outline. Plotting keeps me from freaking out and having too many of those oh-you-so-suck-why-did-you-think-you-could-be-a-writer moments! LOL!

Dalton Diaz said...

Congrats! Fabulous news that shouldn't be a PS. That's a headliner!

I'm a pantser, learning to be a partial plotter. I'm also not linear, and I've found that it's just too difficult to remember everything and remain focus moving forward without some plotting.

Jax Cassidy said...

I'm more of a panster but in the end I have to write my synopsis and that is the plotter in me... would that make me a "pantter"?

Casey Crow said...

Thanks, ladies! I have to admit I'm about going crazy trying to meet MS deadlines and writing marketing plans. (We just won't talk about the plethora of clothes on my floor that need folding or how bad my house looks right now :))