Eric John Baker (R) and me, clearly hoping to win this thing by sheer force of smugness.
Only two approaches to writing exist: Good and Bad. Write good. Debate over!
Hold on a sec. That’s not what this post is about. This post is a point-counterpoint between two WordPress bloggers arguing the merits of two distinct writing methods, pantsing (freeform writing) and plotting (writing from an outline).
Read on as right-brained, right-coast writer Eric John Baker argues in favor of pantsing (at least we hope that’s what happens… he is making it up as he goes, after all), followed by left-brained, left-coast writer Janna G. Noelle making a case for plotting, probably with all kinds of charts and graphs and stuff.
No matter how ugly and violent it gets, they promise to return you home in time for tea and biscuits!
We writers – when we discuss our work and our process at all – tend to restrict said discussion to other writers.
After all, who else could possibly understand our unique brand of crazy? How can anyone genuinely comprehend, for example, the compulsion to sit up in the dead of the night and scribble down a story idea unless s/he too has endured the utter frustration of greeting the morning with forgotten inspiration?
Artists of other disciplines (e.g. painters, musicians, actors, etc.), while themselves not fully cognizant of what it means to be a narrative writer, might come pretty darn close to understanding us.
A/N: To my fellow Canadians, wishing you all a very Happy Canada Day!
How does an idea in one’s head go about becoming a fully-fledged plan – whether outlined or not – for an upcoming piece of writing?
This is something I’ve been pondering quite a bit lately as I continue to move forward in my novel-in-progress: this question of how it is that my writing actually comes to fruition.
Especially given that the ideas I come up with tend to rather small, vague, and decidedly non-earth-shattering in their physical and psychological impact upon me.
Case in point – the idea for this very blog post: I should blog about how my writing ideas evolve.
That was it: the brilliant brainwave in all its unexplained, undeveloped glory.
Or the idea I have for the next chapter in my novel-in-progress: I need to show the protagonist and her enemy starting to see eye-to-eye. Okay – there’s a little more to it than that, but not much. Heaven forbid the Muse offer me something with which I could hit the ground running.
My ideas are like – to borrow from the liberetto of Les Misérables – a little fall of rain: sufficient to get your attention when it speckles the side of your face, but not substantial enough to convince you that anything more will come of it.
For all you know, maybe you were standing too close to a conversation and just got spat on.
The excitement at having an idea take root in your head.
The pride you feel every time you sit down at the computer and add new words.
The anxiety that maybe you won’t be able to capture your idea in words as clearly as it plays out in your head.
The satisfaction of when all the plot pieces finally fall into place in your mind, and you’re finally convinced that yes, this story works.
And then, after months or even years of dedication, when the novel is finally completed, a satisfaction of a different sort that results from having successfully achieved a difficult, long-term goal.
But sometimes, this latter satisfaction comes prematurely; sometimes, satisfaction #2 and satisfaction #1 commingle, until they end up one in the same.
That is to say, sometimes, having devised a fully functional plot in one’s head (or on paper, or on the screen) feels like such a sense of accomplishment, the subsequent desire to actually write the novel disappears.
A/N: Check out my Distractions & Subtractions page to read related posts or to submit your own writing subtractions. I’m writing a blog post for everyone who makes a submission.
Today’s post is one of my own subtractions. Coming up next week: a post for horror/dark sci-fi/supernatural writer and satirical essayist Eric J. Baker.
There are many different types of writers producing many different types of writing in many different ways.
Yet, if you examine this creature known as “the writer” at its broadest taxonomical subdivision, you’ll find that most of them can be categorized into one of two main groups:
Pantsers write by the “seat of their pants”. I’ve also heard pantsers referred to as “discovery writers” – seemingly a euphemism to make what can nonetheless be a perfectly orderly process sound less disorganized.
Plotters make outlines and do pre-writing, sometimes in massive quantities. I’ve never heard of any other name for plotters, although that two can be interpreted as one of two extremes: Plot, as in a cunning, sexy, leather-clad precision. Or plot, as in a burial plot.