Saturday, June 9, 2012

Writing with a Light Outline.

I believe many who consider themselves pantsers really write with light outlines. Maybe they sketch out Act 1 and The Climax, and then jot down alternatives on how to arrive at the ending. Like the pantser, the difficult part of the novel for writers using a light outline is the middle. Characters tend to take over the middle of the story and run amok. Or, a larger problem, they tell you they want to be the Point Of View character in a scene, when a different character has more to lose. I suggest light outline writers read Orson Scott Card's, Characters and Viewpoint.

A good friend commented on the topic Writing by the Seat of Your Pants. I start out with a plan but it doesn't take long before things move of their own volition--even to the point of changing my pov character. 

In short stories, the vast majority of the time there is only one POV character. In novels, there are more than one, not a cast of thousands, but two or three characters in whose POV a scene could be written. If this happens to you, ask yourself, "Who is risking the most in this scene?" Then write the scene in their POV. People who use a light outline know planning is necessary. They'll have fewer rewrites than a true pantser will. But they are likely to struggle with the story line, as things move of their own volition. Personalities low on patience and high in creativity will use the light outline.

Sometimes I think they are the ones who'd like to write three endings and ask the reader to take their pick. A final thought, both pantsers and those using a light outline often write themselves into a corner. It's Page 306, and they don't know how the bloody thing can come together. Eventually, their creativity jams the puzzle together and the outcome is a great book.  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Writing by the Seat of Your Pants

Are you a pantser? Is your approach, just write the darn thing? If so, your personality profile on the Jung-Myers test is most likely high in one of these three areas, intuitive, feeling, extrovert. I hope you went to If not, try it. Take the test and think about how you write.  There is no one right way to write a good novel.

Personally, I dislike methodology, the Snowflake method and others.

At the OWFI, Pam and I shepherded a pantser, a multi=published author who simply sat down and wrote. I can’t write like that. Why? My personality profile is a Guardian-Instructor. I’m extroverted, judgmental, and detailed, no problem as long as I turn out a good book.

What are the advantages for people who write this way? Like Larry-The Cable Guy says, they getter done. There isn’t much prep work. They don’t get bogged down in editing until later. How many of you at one point or another wrote the first chapter of your novel eight times, gave up, and threw it away. Pantsers keep on trucking.

There are problems writing this way. Pantser have to go back and make many corrections. People, places, and things maybe described differently between the beginning and the end. When a beginner writes this way, the middle is a muddle. Sidetracks occur mid-story. They end up either with a novella length attempt or a 500-page ramble. However, they learn and they’ve written something. It is a beginning.

Again, WEW-Whatever Works. If you successfully write great books this way, keep doing that. If you are stuck and trying to recapture your skills, be a pantser for a week. The objective for us all is to turn out great books that we are proud to share.