Friday, October 15, 2010

Writing by the seat of my pants...

I'm a self-professed pantser by admission.

pant⋅ser [pant-ser]

1. One who writes a novel by the seat of their pants, without an outline, character sheets, or any semblance of pre-planning.
2. Crazy person.

See also:  intelligent, witty, and downright sexy.


I've never been one to follow outlines, much less make them before I start writing. I get an idea and I roll out. But, as it usually works out, my idea only has so much gas, and once I start to putter, I tend to stall. I can't tell you how many stories I've started that eventually ran out of juice, lingering now in a folder on my hard drive hoping that someday I'll return to find forgotten potential there and pick up where I left off (which I have been known to do).

I'm trying to find a happy middle ground between outliners and pantserdom, which is why I'm happy to have come across a "struggling writer's" blog called, of all things, "The Struggling Writer," where various concepts are introduced by a fellow pantser on how to plot/outline a story without actually outlining! You see, like the strugglingwriter, if my outline is too detailed, I actually feel constrained and eventually become frustrated and bored.

Lack of interest is my biggest momentum-killer. Writing by the seat of my pants is so much more exciting! Half the time when I sit down to spin a yarn, I have no idea where it will go or what the characters will do or say until my fingers start flying across the keys. It's fun. It's exciting. It's unexpected. And I never get bored.

But something needs to be said about the product it becomes, as I'm also a constant revisionist, and what I often turn out as a pantser lacks a certain coherency. Then I get frustrated by the underlying structure.

So... now I'm thinking about trying one of the methods presented at "The Struggling Writer." I specifically followed the link to and downloaded her Chapter Concept Statement Grid. For my next work, I'm going to use this as a loose outline and see how it works, if I stay on-task throughout, while maintaining form. If it works out as well as I hope it will, you'll be the first to know! Wish me good fortune!


  1. I agree completely! I've never understood "plotters", I'd much rather dive in to a story with a vague idea of what is going on and write. It always pulls together in the end. :)

    "Good fortune!"

  2. I haven't had a chance to use that Chapter Concept Grid yet, but if/when I do, I'll surely post my findings! I write in Word, so what I typically do is just add New Comments using the Review utility throughout the document with all my notes, ideas, bits of reference, and to place markers (i.e., such as adding a Comment at the beginning of each chapter). That's usually the extent of my plotting/outlining.

    Thanks, Bethany! Good fortune to you, too. Looking forward to when you post that first chapter.