I've done a couple of interviews lately and everyone always wants to know if I'm a plotter or a pantzer.

As I mature as a writer, I plot more. I think it's due to a couple of factors: I've wasted a lot of years on pantzing diversions. Yes, years. It takes me a shitload of words to figure out what I want to say. But primarily, now I have a better grasp of story. I vett ideas with my craft toolbox now. But I don't have such a great grasp of story that I can get away without writing it down.

I posted about how I plan short stories here.  One of my buddies and fellow editors said he thought it sounded complicated. Is it? I dunno. It's a guided thought process that certainly takes some work. But I find the more writing resembles actual work, the better I do. And by work, I don't mean slogging through words. I mean work, like when I teach a class I have to PLAN what I'm going to say.

My plots for my Inappropriate Work run something close to scene by scene synopses. (chapter by chapter, short chapters to accommodate POV switches)

For novels I write a tag line, a query, and then a synopsis. I just wrote two of those plans last Sunday. That collects my ideas in one file and puts them in a rough order. Then once I'm in the thick of it, I always end up story-boarding. Story-boarding doesn't work for me well with unformed ideas, but synopsizing does. 

I envy writers with the confidence to proceed without a plan. I used to write that way, and it was mostly crap. It was fun, too. But still. Crap.

Even then, though, I tended to fall into the 4 act sequence that most films and stories are built on. It's ingrained in to my subconscious, or maybe even my psyche as Aristotle alludes to.

What do you do? If you pantz it, do you have a vague idea of where you're going? The end of the book or just the next scene? Do you have a lot of freakouts over this? Do you find your books fall into sequence naturally? 

Or if you plot, what's your creative process? One thing I've never gotten is outlining, but I can't even take notes that way, so maybe that's me. And how much actual thought, meaning: staring-into-space thought, do you put into your stories?


Peter Dudley said...

I think my process is similar to yours in concept. I don't formally synopsize my ideas, but I journal them. Usually it comes out as a rough idea at first. Then, over a few days or weeks I'll re-journal the idea several times until it seems like an actual plot with real characters.

When I write, I plan out and then write a section of the book at a time, but each episode is sort of pantzed. Some end up a little different from where I expected them to go, and this has at times caused my overall plot arc to need tweaking. Sort of a feedback loop.

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I find the whole process thing fascinating.

Natasha Fondren said...

I'm the opposite. When I'm scared of a story, I'll plot, but this always leads to disaster. As I've written more and more stories, I have a sense of the pacing and timing, of when something should happen, whether it be a twist or bringing in a scene for the subplot or whatnot. It's like my brain has a template plot that mostly says things like "something happens." "It gets better." "Now it comes crashing down." "Now we think it's getting better." "Now the shit really hits the fan."

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Wow, cool, Natasha. I wish I had that!

Anonymous said...

I always plan. I don't know whether that's because I'm actually any good at it, or because I enjoy it so much.

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I'm finding plotting fun as I go along. Now that I trust my thought process more, it's freed me to actually enjoy it.