Thursday, August 15, 2013

Plotting, Pantsing, and 'Tweening

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! Today I'm gonna talk about plotting, pantsing, and 'tweeners. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're in the right place for learning! So, grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

First, let's discuss plotters.

If you're a plotter, chances are you have copious notes about where your character is going, what they're going to do, and where they'll end up when the story comes to an end. How many different plots are there? A ton. But every plot will tell you exactly what your character will face and achieve by the end of the story.

Plotters often go all out and make an entire outline before they begin writing.

Pros of Plotting:
You're almost guaranteed a well structured plot.
There are no holes in your story.
You have a lot of control over what happens and when.
A huge sense of security is provided for the writer.

Cons of Plotting:
Possible loss of spontaneity by the lead.
You can become stuck going in a direction you don't want to go in.
Twists that could happen are beaten into submission by structure.
Index cards can become overwhelming.

Now, on to the pantsers.

If you're a pantser, you probably write with abandon. There are no notes to guide you, and your lead goes wherever he/she wants to. You're but a follower and chronicler. Just the thought of an outline leaves you running for the hills, screaming gibberish about how you can't work under this kind of pressure.

Pantsers often grab a story idea and run with it; having no idea where the characters will end up.

Pros of Pantsing:
You have the freedom to let your characters do as they wish.
With a set word count goal every day, you write what you feel.
There is no direction you have to force your way toward; opening your story up to twists and turns.
Characters feel real and you have an excellent understanding of their nature.

Cons of Pantsing:
Your plot may have gaping holes.
Characters can get sidetracked in a big way, leading to parallel plots you didn't intend.
You have no control beyond what you decide to put on paper.
Fixing your manuscript when complete can be a huge pain in the ass.

What the hell is a 'tweener?

A 'tweener writes out a loose plot and pantses their way through the rest. If you're a 'tweener, you'll oftentimes change the plot halfway through or end up abandoning the finale you had in mind from the beginning altogether. You're in a class with some of the most creative writers because you hold an idea in your head but are open to changes along the way.

'Tweeners write down an idea, work it through, then write with a kind of abandon that sticks loosely to the original.

Pros of 'Tweening:
You have structure from the beginning, but aren't pigeonholed to one story line.
Your characters go where they choose and do whatever strikes their fancy with no prerequisites about how that should happen.
Your plot is generally solid.
Index cards are your friends, but you aren't afraid to set fire to them or put them through the paper shredder when need be.
Stories written by you are full of adventure.
There's a hint of security in that you have an ultimate goal for your lead.

Cons of 'Tweening:
You may find yourself burning those index cards only to re-write them and tack them back on the board because you lost your plot along the way.
You're more susceptible to writer's block because twists leave you with no way to get back on track.
Characters can take over your story and run amok.
You must keep copious notes as you go.

No matter what kind of writer you are, every story has a Lead, Objective, Confrontation, and Knockout (ending). Every story also has a doorway (moment of decision) through which plotters lead their characters, showing them exactly where to put their feet and telling them what to expect on the other side, pantsers shove their characters and step back to watch what happens, and 'tweeners send their characters to the door, educate them about what may be on the other side, open it, and note what happens next.

When doing your first round of edits, look for holes, fat, and structure. Make sure it's all working the way you want it to. If you know what kind of writer you are, you know what to be leery of.

What kind of writer are you? Why?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


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