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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Can a Leopard Change Its Spots?

I've read a lot of blogs in the past few months discussing the pantser vs. the plotter.  I'm a plotter.  Always have been.  I've got timelines and color coding and every sort of whatnot to help me stay on track.  What's worse, I edit as I go, fuss over the exact wording, get hung up for hours on making a scene come out just so.  All in my first draft.

It's not that I prefer to write this way.  It's just the way I got started and never really thought about doing it any other way.

But being a pantster sounds like fun.  Letting the story run where it will, just typing as it flows without laboring over every word or phrase - I think I'd like to try that.  So when this writing challenge came my way, it sounded like just the thing.  The whole emphasis was on just getting the words out there.  Go with the flow. Clean it up later.

I'm trying.  Really I am.  I only have a rough idea of how this story is going to work.  I've written my beginning.  I know my ending.  Now I have to find out how it's going to get there.

It's making me crazy.

And the editing.  Not going back and re-reading, correcting, improving...how do pantser do that?  I can't even get to the end of a blog post without going back to the top a couple dozen times.

I'm getting the words out - on target for my 30,000 in February - but the whole free flow thing is eluding me.  So I gotta ask - are there any former plotters out there who have converter to pansters?  How did you do it?  How about people who can do both?  Or are plotters plotters and pantsers panters and never the twain shall meet?

Can an old dog really learn new tricks?

My current word count: 9,110

I'm currently enjoying: Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters

Groaner of the Day: (You've got to stay with this one all the way.)
A number of years ago, the Seattle Symphony was doing "Beethoven's Ninth" under the baton of Milton Katims.

At this point, you must understand two things: First, there's a long segment in this symphony where the bass violins don't have a thing to do, not a single note for page after page. Second, there used to be a tavern called Dez's 400 right across the street from the Seattle Opera House, a place rather favored by local musicians.

It had been decided that during this performance, after the bass players had played their parts in the opening of the Ninth, they were to quietly lay down their instruments and leave the stage, rather than sit on their stools looking and feeling dumb for twenty minutes.

Once they got backstage, someone suggested that they trot across the street and quaff a few brews. After they had downed the first couple rounds, one said, "Shouldn't we be getting back? It'd be awfully embarrassing, if we were late."

Another, presumably the one who suggested this excursion in the first place, replied, "Oh, I anticipated we could use a little more time, so I tied a string around the last pages of the conductor's score. When he gets down to there, Milton's going to have to slow the tempo way down while he waves the baton with one hand and fumbles with the string with the other."

So, they had another round and finally returned to the Opera House, a little tipsy by now. However, as they came back on stage, one look at their conductor's face told them they were in serious trouble.

Katims was furious! And why not? After all, It was the bottom of the Ninth, the score was tied, and the basses were loaded.

12 comments:

Dru said...

LOL at the groaner.

Stephen Tremp said...

The middle is the challenging part. Keeping the reader engaged so they want to finish the book. I write the same way. Just let the words flow. If you get stuck, just add a couple wormholes and a murder like I do!

Linda Leszczuk said...

Thanks Dru. Me too. It was a long set up but I couldn't resist the punch line.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Stephen - Wormholes! That's what I need. Murders I've got, but no wormholes.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I tried to plot - didn't work. I tried pantsing - didn't work. I'm basically a hybrid.

I figure out the end and certain things that I want to happen in the middle, then I write my way toward them. So far that seems to be working.

However, I do edit as I write. I can't help it. I don't necessarily try to get it perfect, but I always go over the previous day's work and edit before I write any more new stuff (basically because mostly what I've written is dialogue). It also helps me get back into the story.

Good luck on your word count.

And the groaner? GROAN! But it was funny!

Mary Vaughn said...

Great Groaner!
I'm a pantster with my Short stories and a planner with essays and novel.

Robert Guthrie said...

I'm a plotter, BUT a plotter open to when the pants interrupt. For me, when the voices are loud, it's important.

Karin said...

I am not a writer but I like to try new ways of doing things. Sometimes you surprise yourself and hit on something really great!

I love the groaners and never miss one. There are days I really need to laugh!

Linda Leszczuk said...

Stacy - I think I might end up a hybrid, too.

Glad you liked the groaner. It was worth waiting for.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Mary - Hmmm, maybe I should have tried cutting my pantser teeth on a short story.

I love people who apprecuate a good groaner. *grin*

Linda Leszczuk said...

Robert - do you think writers are the only ones who can talk about hearing voices and not worry about men in white coats coming after them?

Linda Leszczuk said...

Hi Karin - Love to give a good groaner laugh to you and the Captain.