Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Plot or Pants - Who Are You?

Quick reminder for anyone just tuning in: This week’s giveaway is Now You Die by Roxanne St. Claire. Leave your comments to be entered into the contest. Also, if you have questions for Rocki, leaves those as well.

The subject of this post isn’t something new, in fact it’s something we writer’s discuss a lot. You read about it on blogs, take online classes to see if you can make it work for you, and feel super excited if your chapter is doing a workshop on it.

What could it be? To Plot or Not to Plot, yes, this is a life long question of most writer’s. And it’s one that may change as you pull, okay, brace your feet on the side of your muse, and pull the next part of the story from her for all you’re worth.

Maybe that’s a bit much, but what else do you call it when you’re sitting in front of the all that white space and there’s nothing? Or you’ve typed the last 250 words at least twenty different ways and still you can’t type the next line. Nothing.

So, what do you do? Well, someone can come to the door, or the phone can ring, the spaghetti sauce boil over, or…you can kill someone. Now the killing thing might not work if you’re writing comedy. Then again, that could be a new fresh voice mixed together.

Basically what I’m saying is it’s time for action, which is great if you’re a pantser, but not so easy if you’re a plotter. I mean really, you’ve spent what, days, weeks, maybe more, getting your plotting board ready to go. You smile, turn on the computer, and start. The words flowing with ease and why not, you’ve plotted it out.

And then it happens. You can’t make the scene work no matter how many times you rework it. But you love this scene, the hero is amazing, sweet, sexy, and you know the readers are going to love it. Except it isn’t working with that plot line you’ve created.

Now if you’re a pantser, you can find yourself in the same boat, but the difference is you’re not married to the plot you’ve already created. Why? Because you don’t have the book figured out. You’re just as surprised as your heroine, when the hero throws a rock at her window and begins serenading her, with a voice that is less than perfect. Or when the shy heroine becomes the bold seductress and meets the hero at dinner with a low cut, cling in all the right places, can’t wear any undergarments, showing a lot of leg, red dress.

It’s those times that the pantser will sit back from the computer and say, “Really, I didn’t know that.” Or something along those lines.

Why am I telling you all this? I, Vicki Lane, am a pantser. I love being one and even when the block comes, I can usually make my out of it without too much pressure. My characters take on a life of their own and its fun. Sure you have to rein them in once in a while. And of course, you will have a conversation (or two) with a secondary character to remind them, this isn’t their book.

Here’s the problem. I have to plot the book I’m working on now. Make that two books. Although Annie’s is more of an outline, still there are things that must happen. But it’s the smaller book, the 55k book, which I had to plot out completely. I thought it would make it easier, but not so much for me. Now, I’m sitting in front of the computer knowing what happens next, but I’ve got to get them to that point, keeping the plot in mind.

So, what about you? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you tried both? Which works better for you? Or do you flip back and forth, depending on the book?

Leave your comments to be entered into this week’s giveaway. Also, if you have a question for Rocki, leave them in the comment sections.

WW’s and PD’s,


Patricia W. said...

And the fun is in getting them "to that point, keeping the plot in mind". You'll find you still have a lot of room for creativity.

Think about it. How many ways are there to walk between points A & B? The straight ahead way. The round the corner, up the block way. The over the hill, round the bend way...

You can do this! (But don't be surprised if your characters take a detour getting from A to B!)

Jill James said...

Vicki, I'm a plotter. It's the anal, Virgo side of me. LOL I tried to get by on a wing and a prayer one was not a pretty story, let me tell you. I have to have the bones to place my story on. Surprises still happen, but I have to know the story has Once upon a time...and they lived happily ever after. LOL