ajcastle (ajcastle) wrote,

Are you a 'panster' or an outliner?

I've seen these terms tossed around the writing world quite a bit and am always curious about how different writers get their ideas down on paper. Lets talk about what I mean by these terms before we begin.

Panster - basically this just means you start writing and see where it leads you. There's not really a plan in place. Maybe you have a rough idea where you want to end up, and possibly a few key points in between, but the ultimate path is unknown to you.

Outliner - well, that's pretty self-explanatory. Basically you outline your story so that you know where you're going to go with it all. You figure out many of the twists, character arcs, plot timeline, etc before you start writing. There are many different ways to do this, but for this blogs purposes this is what we'll go by.

I am a big time pantster. I've tried on several occasions to outline a story. I tried with Kiss, but failed miserably. Honestly, having the outline drained my creative juices. I had to crumple it up and throw it away before I could write a single word. To ME, outlining feels like I'm trying to force the story, and I can't work that way. I am in complete awe of those who can outline and use it well. It just doesn't work for me.

Then again, I like writing from the hip. For example, when I was writing Kiss, I knew how it began, I knew a couple of key points, and then I knew the end. That's it. I didn't know how my MC got from point A to point B, let alone from Y to Z, I just knew she did. Sometimes that proved frustrating, but it ALWAYS comes to me, sooner or later.

Just the other day, I started writing a scene for Sacred (Kiss 2), and it started out one way, but half way through the scene changed and went in a totally different direction -- a better direction. My characters surprise me on a daily basis. I may go in thinking one thing, but then they say, 'Um, no, we aren't doing that today. This is how it goes...', and the silly thing is, I LISTEN! The characters are in charge, not me. Have you ever tried to go in a direction other than where your characters want to go? Yeah, no it doesn't work. At least not for me. I've tried in the past and almost immediately a mental block goes up. It's almost like they say, 'Hey, if you don't go where I want you to go then you can't see what else happens". It's craziness, I know.

So, I've learned to just do what they want. If I do, they let me see the right path. No one understands this mentality but other writers. I've tried to tell my husband about it but he just looks at me like I've lost my mind (maybe I have?).

What's my point? I don't really know. I guess I'm just trying to say that whatever works for you to get your story down is the right way for you to write. As a 'pantster' I can't understand how people can write with an outline. There are probably some outliners who wonder how the heck we 'pantsters' keep everything on track (Psst...we don't always -- which is what revision is for! ;) ). Regardless of how you write best, keep it up! There is no wrong way, there is only the way that works for you.

On an unrelated note: GO GALAXY! WOOT!! (I'm a soccer geek -- love me some Beckham!)

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