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Plotter or Pantser?

These terms are brandied about during NaNoWriMo as if they were commonplace. We writers gather together (virtually or ‘in real life’) to write our fingers to the bone in an attempt to produce 50,000 words in 30 days. Documented insanity fueled by adrenaline divided by copious amounts of caffeine.

I kept track of my consumption in November 2014. I think it best I not put the totals in print for fear my health insurance becomes immediately revoked. Or worse, my husband takes away my debit card next November. I tend to write in coffee shops and if anyone actually did the math… well, we are talking numbers which could support entire villages in a 3rd world country. I don’t think it’s unreasonable. How else am I expected to write 50,000 words and actually do anything else?

But I digress. The Plotters are meticulous. They know scene-by-scene, chapter-by-chapter, how they will get to the 50k mark. They know their characters, the story arcs, where the conflict occurs and the climax. And, it’s all drawn out in beautiful color-coded outlines I couldn’t accomplish if I had a hundred years to finish. Plotters do this during October and it sits neatly waiting for them to begin writing at midnight on November 1st. I’m always amazed when they announce a few hours later “I have 3000 words!” while I’m still wondering if I like my main character’s name.

Nope, I am a Pantser. Which is to say, I fly by the seat-of-my-pants. I’m lucky if I have a title in mind when I start writing. One year, I was POSITIVE I knew what I was going to write 2 whole weeks in advance. I actually did some research. But 3 days before NaNoWriMo started, I got twitchy and punted. I ended up writing about something completely different. I may go back to the other idea someday, it wasn’t half-bad.

When I began this blog I started to wonder if I ‘pants’ everything. Or, perhaps the improvisation I tend to do takes great planning… I just do it very, very quickly.

Summer Secrets is the product of two completely pantsed NaNoWriMos. The book was done, completely edited… but I wasn’t satisfied with the second half. I had six problems. On an impulse, and with my editor’s blessing, I tore up the second half, changed the names of some of the main characters (so they would seem new to me) and completed another 50,000 marathon. The improvement to the story was dramatic. A new character, who I adore, introduced herself. And I learned something about my writing…

Apparently I write better at (mumble) words per gallon. Coffee is my muse.


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