I was recently asked if I am a writer who plans or pants? If I pick up my pencil with a plan for an end or if I start in the middle and end up somewhere I didn’t imagine at the beginning of my seating.
I am a pantser. Generally, I come in with a very tiny idea. It may be just the outcome of my character for that chapter, or a tiny bit of back-story that I want to include in my novel. The development comes during the act of writing. My story isn’t even a part of the way completed just by looking at the plans I have written out.
Almost every time I start to write I first have a blank sheet of paper in front of me and I write down everything I can think of that I might want to say in this portion of my story. I spend a lot of my free time thinking about what I am going to write in the next chapter or in my next short story, and I can usually come up with something small, like a sentence, a word or something bigger like the entire endpoint of the story.
That is the majority of the planning I do, which isn’t very much. I come up with most of what I want to say when I am at my laptop and spitting it out.
While developing this idea I am given, I tend to give a lot of back-story to lead to a complete climax. Even in short stories, I take a step back in time in order to make sense of the present and grow the momentum in that sense. It keeps me on track, I feel like, and it grows the story differently than a linear telling of it would.
The crisis, conflict and resolution of my story are developed by elements such as these. I like to establish momentum by adding little sub-stories, such as background knowledge of a character or some context about the setting of the story at that moment. Momentum and development of a story can be so diverse, but the structure can be pinpointed and defined. Adding emotional context and struggle to get to the climax of the story are just the tip of the iceberg to what a writer can do to tie up, and tie in, the conflict in the story.
My writing isn’t only my job, my passion, my forthcoming, my calling, but my journey. The story is a journey and the writing of it is also a journey. It is easy to forget that almost everything in life is a journey, and that generally our passions and our jobs take up most of our time. Just as life is, the story is ultimately the story of a life and lives that occur in a journey of conflict and confusion, then wisdom and resolution. My life is a journey and that reflects in my writing, as does it does with any writer.
By saying this, I am pointing out there is not much planning to life anyway, and definitely isn’t to such a journey. How can I plan a conflict and crisis, when these things are felt and stirred at the time of being? Same if I am writing it. Feelings aren’t usually planned but can be predicted. When I brainstorm before I write I can maybe outline such an event, but it comes out of me while I write sentence after sentence. Word after word.
Are you a planner or a pantser? Comment below!