Yep, you’ve seen this before…but I figured I’d give it a permanent and appropriate home. Enjoy the re-read!
From the day I began writing Asrian Skies (that would be June 6, 2016, for those keeping track), I pantsed. For non-writers, that means I had no outline, no planning, no character list, and no idea of where the story would go. An ending? Pfft. That came…at the end, once I’d backed my main character into a corner and there was only one way out for her.
I had no idea that writing this way is The Worst Thing Ever for an aspiring author.
I should have seen it coming…friends made comments like “How do you not know how your story ends? Every author outlines and knows the ending before they begin.” But the truth it, I didn’t see it coming until I was done with my first draft and went researching how to write a novel (Yes. I do quite a few things backwards).
And oh, the things I read.
Pantsers are lazy. Pantsers don’t understand story structure. Pantsers never finish a novel. Pantsers just want to take shortcuts.
Every single blog entry I read was dedicated to turning pantsers into plotters…never the other way around.
And I sat and I thought about it for a long time.
I finally decided all those people are wrong.
Here’s the thing. Our brains are all different. I like to say my characters tell me how the story should go, but really it’s my subconscious…or intuition. I realize most writers want to write out story beats and plot points and that’s great—but when you think about it, people have been telling stories for thousands of years. We all know something needs to happen about a quarter of the way through. We all know something else needs to happen about halfway through. Etc.
And amazingly enough, when I went and plotted those points to my finished first draft, they all existed, and they all existed in the correct places. No plotting or beat sheet required. It just happened.
Intuitively. And that’s a completely valid way to think and write.
That’s not to say this works for everyone. Clearly, if a writer needs to plot, then they need to plot. If they need to write a 200 page outline, who am I to judge? You need a 50 page story bible with 57 characters’ life stories in it before you start chapter 1? Great!
I only wish pantsers would get the same respect.
Note: I had an early beta reader who thought my main character came off as too naive because “everything surprised her.” I will admit this was a consequence of the author being surprised by everything that happened. I corrected that issue throughout the entire novel in less than one hour, and I don’t believe it’s a valid reason to claim pantsing is a poor technique.