Thursday 20 July 2023

Where Pantser and Plotter Meet by Joan Lennon


Even among pantsers, I am a messy writer. I get swept up by a new idea/world/setting/set of characters/beginning/ending and start writing the scenes that excite me most, dotting about and discovering as I go. When the novel reaches a particular mass (which varies from one story to the next) I stop doing that and start to put the scenes in order and then sew them together. Mostly, it works. But this time, not so much.

The problem with my current novel is that I have been writing it in quite widely separated bursts because of other writing and family commitments. It's a particularly complicated story, with information getting to the reader in dribs and drabs and with the characters also only learning things gradually. (This has also been true for the writer!) And when I come back to the book, after a break, I realise I've forgotten tons of it. So I've decided to have a go at not Planning or (that ghastly word) Pre-planning, but Post-planning. I'm making colour-coded charts - well, messy drafts of much less messy charts which I fully intend to redo, tidily, with straight lines drawn using a ruler, as soon as I can find one - of the story so far, chronologically and by character.  

It's been interesting, in all the different ways you can use that word. But for this novel, made up of bits and pieces written in bits and pieces, I think it's the way forward.

Has Post-planning worked for you? How do you do it? And could I borrow your ruler?

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Penny Dolan said...

Every good wish - and hope your colours and ruler help you to map? /sequence?/ plan? your novel's path.

Susan Price said...

Hands off my ruler! I don't know where it is anyway.
Sounds exactly like the way I work, Joan. After all, why make a plan until you've something to make a plan of? I usually start a plan when I've so many versions that I want to use bits of, that my head feels like it's about to explode. The plan is supposed to bring order to this mess.
That's the hope, anyway.

Joan Lennon said...

Thanks Penny! And Sue - 'so many versions that I want to use bits of, that my head feels like it's about to explode' - that's it exactly! 'Order to the mess'? Here goes!