“Secret Sauce: If you’re not spending most of your time figuring out how your characters act or acted, you’re probably wasting your time.” Annalisa Parent, featured speaker, at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference 2017.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Or are you a crazy combination of the two? Some writers prefer to know where their stories take them before they begin. Plotters outline the story from start to finish and then write the manuscript. Others prefer to jump right in the story and let the characters talk to them to determine the direction in which the story takes them. A person who writes this way is called a pantser or “someone who writes by the seat of his pants.”
Annalisa Parent wrote a delightful, easy reading book, Storytelling for Pantsers, that helps in the scary adventure of writing by the seat of one’s pants. After reading her book, I realized that I started as a pantser for one of the manuscripts that I’m working on. Because my story involves historical facts, I’ve decided to plot the entire manuscript for accuracy of location, timeline, and the culture that shapes my characters’ lives.
However, I’ve outlined the entire story of another manuscript, but the characters continue to take me in an entirely different direction. This story puts me in the category of a plotter/pantser. I hear my characters in my sleep and wake up to a new plotline each morning. I’m okay with that because it’s not my story; it’s theirs.
What I believe is that a writer can be a plotter, a pantser, or a combination of the two depending on the writer’s personality and/or the type of story he or she is writing. There are some people who say you must plot your entire story. Others say that you can write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants” and let your characters do the plotting for you.
What do you believe? How do you write? I’d enjoy reading your thoughts on this issue.