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Neither a Plotter nor a Pantser Am I June 15, 2011

Posted by techtigger in writing.
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Over the past year I’ve tried to figure out what my writing style is. Everyone says you have to find what works for you – outlining the story before you start, (Plotters),  or just writing without a plan and cleaning the story up after (Seat-of-Pantsers).  I’ve tried every method recommended for those types of writers; the snowflake, phase drafting, a collage of sticky notes spread around the room, etc.   (The last one was pretty, btw, but my handwriting is atrocious and I could never figure out what was on the notes a week later.  Oops.)

Then I heard a phrase that fit me to a tee  – I’m a Puzzle Piecer.  That is exactly how I write, I get an idea, then jump ahead and write something miles down the proverbial road, then jump back to flesh out the backstory, which gives me an idea for something in chapter 29… well, you get the idea.  The problem is, I now have pieces for at least 4 different books, and not a single one of them more than halfway done.  Don’t get me wrong, I know where the story is going, and how it will end. I just don’t have all the pieces to fill in the blank spots yet.  Believe me, it’s every bit as frustrating for me as for the folks who keep asking me, when will it be done?  The only answer I have is that I don’t know, since I have yet to figure out how to get my brain to write in a straight line.

So, here’s my question to the world – are there any other puzzle piecers out there?  If so, how do you manage to get a piece finished?  If I ever find a trick that helps me, outside of dogged perseverance, I’ll be sure to share it.  In the mean time, please be patient with me and my wayward muse.  I have a feeling all my WIP’s will end up getting finished around the same time. 🙂





1. Jim Bronyaur - June 17, 2011

Are you kidding me? I’m like that too, no worries! haha… I believe that projects will finish up when they are ready. I have a 109,000 word ms I finished in April of 2010 just sitting there. Why? Because it’s book one of three AND needs to be broken down into two books itself… someday I plan on taking a month and hiding to work on it. Someday.

I also have an 89,000 novel that needs only 10,000 or so more words to finish up… I just can’t find those words.

BUT I will say that I will pick a project and focus on it until it’s done. I keep a full plate but I keep a strict schedule. And if a project isn’t working so well, I’m not afraid to toss it aside…

-Jim 🙂

techtigger - June 21, 2011

glad to hear i’m not the only one 🙂 I do that all the time, set aside one when I get stuck, then come back once i get an idea. Although, sometimes there’s no substitute for just knuckling down and grinding out the words.

at least i have a bit of motivation to focus on the one now 😀

2. Mari Juniper - June 19, 2011

I’m not like you, Angie, I have to be honest. I’m more like a plotter who likes to have some leeway to change things than anything, or a pantser that has to give a general direction to the story to prevent traps, if you will.

If I were to put isolated pieces together I’d die in the process. I’ve never been good with puzzles, you see? heh

And if you need some encouragement, I’d say that it’s a great thing that you found out how you work best. This is, IMO, a fundamental step to produce good things. Keep going! We’ll most certainly be here to see the final result of your big puzzle. 😀

techtigger - June 21, 2011

thanks Mari! Now me, I love puzzles. I’m just not sure it’s the best way to write a novel 😉 Still, trying to plot things out in a linear fashion has failed miserably for me, so I guess I’ll just have to muddle through. thanks for the encouragement though, it is much appreciated!

3. Sam Adamsonm Adamson - July 15, 2011

I am not alone! *dabs his eyes in relief* I tend to use a mixture of plotting and pantsing when I write flash fiction or shorts, depending on how inspiration strikes, though I’m more of a plotter where longer works are concerned, and that’s my problem…

There’s a novel outline sitting in my desk right now, completely plotted and ready for me to begin writing it, but now I’ve straightjacketed myself I don’t feel a burning urge to write the story as I know how it ends.

With the new novel project however, the one I’m 12k into in little over a fortnight (no, I can’t believe it either!), I’m more of a Puzzle Piecer like you: I know how the story starts, and so far new scenes have occured to me in a mostly linear order, though I have no clue how it ends yet, and I have a couple of scenes to write that I feel are important to the story but don’t yet fit into the fuzzy plot arc I have in my head.

Can I really be a Plotter, a Pantser and a Puzzle Piecer all at the same time? I think I need a lie down…

techtigger - July 15, 2011

I have the exact same problem – if i plan it all out, i feel like it’s a million times harder to write. I guess it goes along with never coloring inside the lines 😉

I tend to get a few ideas, strong images in my head, and go from there. sometimes i know the end, but mostly I don’t. I just run with it, and let my muse surprise me. It is good to know that I’m not the only one like this! We’ll have to keep cheering each other on as we write 🙂

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