Thursday, August 1, 2013

How Plotting & Pantsering Affects Everything You Write Part 2 with Guest Vince Mooney

The Plot Thickens!

Author Instructors Include:

Virginia Carmichael, Mary Connealy, Janet Dean, Clari Dees, Debby Giusti, Audra Harders, Ruth Logan Herne, Myra Johnson, Julie Lessman, Tina Radcliffe, and co-authors, Lorie Langdon and Carey Corp.

It’s Day 2 and There’s a lot More Ground to Cover!

Yesterday we talked about how being a plotter or pantser is like being left handed or right handed. While one hand is usually dominate, almost all people use both hands when needed.

Pantsers are sometimes forced to plot! They may even have to submit a ‘dreaded synopsis’ to an editor. A long, fourteen page, synopsis may be enough to make even a devoted plotter nervous

Ruth Logan Herne’s Views on Pantsering 

Winter’s End began as a total pantser. I only knew the hero’s name! That’s extreme pantsering.”

 “To be fair, I have to pre-plan now because my opening chapters and synopsis have to be approved before I get paid. So I can’t just write a whole book without a plan. But they’re kind enough to give me leeway to work with (and sometimes around) the synopsis.

“For, Winter’s End,  I went into the story as an unpublished pantser and the only thing I knew was the hero’s name… DeHollander…and that his father was in hospice, and that the nurse had been traumatized as a child.  I knew she liked to dress nicely and that the hero’s mother had abandoned them when his sister was a baby because she hated life on the farm in the cold North Country.

“When I wrote the first pages, Kayla… the Visiting Nurse… glanced up at a window, a dirty, smudged window that distorted the light, a window too high to reach. And I knew then that she’d been thwarted by a window like that before. But that realization came AFTER she glanced up.

“So why did I do that? What motivates a pantser to take a turn? Follow a curve? For me it’s emotion.

“Seeing that through Kayla’s eyes made me feel what it was like to be a tormented child, but I didn’t know what the torment was for several chapters.  Her quest to be normal, and to be considered normal and nice, was just how I felt her reaction would be, growing up as a prostitute’s daughter. “

Ruth warns that pantsering can delve too deeply into emotion for a romance.

In His Mistletoe Family, I had the joy of writing on emotion for Brett Stanton, a retired military hero. But his story went so deep that I had to ease away from it at times to lighten things.  To do that, I used the adorable retired couple “Charley and LuAnn” based on a sweet elderly couple I’ve known for years. Their warmth and humor was totally unscripted, but their constant reappearance in the story kept Brett’s past from dragging the story down. “

Ruth Loves the Freedom of Writing to a One Page Synopsis


“In Red Kettle Christmas, coming out this fall for Summerside Press, I had more freedom with the development. My one page synopsis showed the basic conflict of an unwed mother trying to repay the kindness of the Salvation Army and a returning war hero whose father was lost in Europe and whose mother recently passed away from cancer. When he realizes his seventeen year old sister is pregnant and unwed, he’s sure he’s a total failure at caretaking.”

“Here’s what happened in the opening chapter when the on duty NYPD cop offers to take the bell-ringer’s five-year-old daughter closer to Broadway to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade close up:

“Only a foolish woman allows her child to be carried into the sprawling crowds of New York City on parade day. Karen knew this, and made the decision anyway. Foolish? Well. She’d been called worse in the past. She’d gazed into the man’s eyes, read the shadows of life and loss, and saw his pain. But alongside the pain she discerned honor and protection, and on that note, she let her precious daughter go. And then watched from her post a block away, the bell chiming tiny reminders of want and need.”


Ruth goes on to introduce many more pantsered elements from her own memories of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It seems the more freedom an author has to pantser, the more pantsered elements will come to life in her mind.

I’m really looking forward to many more ‘freedom inspired’ Ruthy Christmas stories. It does not feel like the holidays unless Ruth and Mary have new Christmas releases.

An Observation on Ruth’s Pantsering Approach

In the above examples Ruth has crafted strong emotions into an interesting and complex situation. This approach is the basis of successful TV situation comedies. If the situation is rich enough, then the situation itself will suggest many strong plotlines. A pantser has an enormous advantage if her initial state, or starting point, is a plot-rich environment. In this rich situation an author does not have to ‘find’ the one best plot because there are many possible strong plots that can come from the same initial setup. 

Ruth’s lesson is that the opening is not just about ‘hooking’ the reader and getting pages turned.  It’s also about creating a rich enough opening situation to successfully support many different outcomes. This provides the pantser with many additional options for a successful ending.

Janet Dean – Knowing the Ending Helps Make Even the most Surprising Ending Seem Inevitable  

“I am a plotter. For me the benefit of brainstorming the story is knowing the ending so I can set up events that make the ending feel inevitable and satisfying for readers. I’ll use my fourth book, “Wanted: A Family”, as an example of how knowing the ending helped me build the story. 

 “Once I knew where the book was headed, I was able to add plot elements—Callie’s old Victorian house, postcards mailed to Jake on his birthday, gossip columns from old issues of the town’s newspapers, things people had told him—that foreshadowed what readers have told me was a surprise ending. Yet, that surprise won’t feel contrived when readers can look back and see that these events actually pointed to the plot twist. 

  “In this passage from Wanted: A Family, Jake and Callie are searching old gossip columns. Jake hopes he’s getting closer to finding his mother, the reason he came to Peaceful, Indiana. I wrote the passage to function as both a red herring and a clue.

 “Oh, I found something.” Callie picked up the paper to read the words to him. “Listen to this: ‘Occupants of a house on Serenity Avenue may wish to dub the street Stressed Avenue, since a young man from the wrong side of the tracks has been seen calling on their daughter.’ Callie laid down the paper. “Could that be a clue?”

“To what?”
Callie rolled her eyes. “If the columnist is referring to this house, then the daughter would be Senator Squier’s.”

“That could mean some young man was courting Irene Squier.”
“There’re lots of houses on Serenity. But I suppose it’s possible.”
“And he could’ve...well, might’ve gotten her pregnant.”
Jake reached a hand. “What else does it say?”
“Nothing.” She thumbed through the stack of issues. “Let’s see if more is said about this in later columns.” She turned to the next paper’s Society page and read the gossip column. “Nothing in here but I’ll look through the next several issues.”
Jake picked up the column and reread it. “Even if the gossip referred to the occupants of this house—and we have no evidence it does—Irene moved away from here. Remember?”
“True. What’s the date of that paper?”
“September 1876.” Jake’s breath caught as he did the math. “I was born in May the next year.”
 Callie gasped. “Could Irene be your—?”
“Mother.” Just hearing the word off his lips, a desire to know Irene sprang to life inside him. “

An Observation on Janet’s Plotting Approach

In this story plotting made it possible to leave clues as well as red herrings scattered naturally throughout the story. Like a mystery, it would have been very difficult to write this story by pantsering alone. A lesson from this is that pantsers are best served by writing the type of stories that can be pantsered well while plotters are best advised to do the same with stories that are best plotted.

Myra: The Pantser’s Pantser – An Expert at “Deep Pantsering”

“All my scenes are examples of pantsering…“

Myra Johnson may be the most ardent pantser of them all!  I asked Myra if she could provide any examples of pantsered writing and her answer was:

“All my scenes are examples of pantsering. It's a journey of discovery that I wouldn't miss! Pantsering works for me. Why would I change?

“When I let the characters drive the story, one scene moves logically into the next based on who and where the characters are at that moment.”

Myra’s logic here is impeccable; however, to be fair, I should mention that Myra has tried  being a plotter.

“I've tried plotting and it just doesn't stick. I may have certain ideas about scenes and events I think MIGHT happen in the story, but once I start writing, the characters take control. It's their action and interaction that tells me what happens next. If I were to force them into a mold (i.e., "plot"), they would surely rebel and the story would come to a screeching halt.”

I think it is clear that Myra would rather fight than switch.  Like Audra Harders, Myra uses Scrivener to give her many of the advantages of plotting while still enjoying the freedom to pantser.

Myra gives this example of the pantsering process which takes place at the start of A Horseman’s Hope.
Myra explains how the below scene came about:

“Ryan's little girl has a tummy bug, and he's just taken her to the clinic where Grace is the receptionist. My main scene goal was to get the hero and heroine in the same room and interacting, an introduction to their relationship and shared history.

“That's usually how I begin writing each new scene--first, by thinking what logically could be happening in the characters' lives at this point, and then figuring out what exactly this scene needs to accomplish in moving the story forward.

“So with this particular scene I had my hero and heroine together in a tense situation and beginning to reveal their feelings, if not to each other, at least to themselves. Good start. Then, after Ryan took his little girl back to the exam room, I had NO IDEA Grace was about to receive a phone call from her brother. It goes like this:

The phone rang again, and Grace shifted back into receptionist mode. “Kingsley Community Medical Clinic.”
“Hey, kiddo.”
“Kip?” Her brother rarely bothered her at work. Grace swiveled away from the desk.
“What’s up?”
“Can you put one of the nurses on? We, uh. . .we got problems here.”
The tension in Kip’s voice sent warning signals through Grace’s limbs. “Are you hurt?”
“Not me. It’s Sheridan. She’s. . .” He gulped, sniffed, cleared his throat.
“Oh, Kip.” Grace bit the inside of her lip. “Let me find someone. Hold on.” With Kip’s line on hold, she buzzed the nurses’ intercom.
Seconds later Ivy picked up, and it was all Grace could do to keep from listening in as Ivy took Kip’s call.
Dear God, please don’t let it be another miscarriage. They’ve wanted a baby for so long!

What happened with that single "surprise" plot twist is that Sheridan's miscarriage (and Grace's feelings about it) played extremely well against the struggles of a single dad raising the out-of-wedlock child he never planned on having but now can't imagine living without.  I'm not sure I could have pre-plotted anything so effective. It only came about because I listened to my characters and allowed the deeper story to reveal itself.

Myra’s above example may be an example of ‘deep pantsering’ which might be said to be when the author disappears and the characters pick up the pen. I anyone is ‘deep pantsering’ it is Myra Johnson.

Myra demonstrates here how powerful pantsering can be at each  moment a writer is writing. Such power requires excellent judgment. Many seemingly good pantsered ideas can occur to an author in a single session. Which idea will an author follow and which will be put aside? Developing this keen sense of judgment may take many years. Myra has clearly arrived and her books serve as excellent examples for aspiring pantsers.

Julie Lessman – The Long Distance Pantser! Pantsering the Impossible!


When I read Julie Lessman’s first three books, (over 1,000 pages)  I thought she was one of the best plotters writing today. There were so many family members and such a variety of events that I just assumed Julie must be a consummate plotter. Nope!

Julie Lessman considers herself…”a hardcore pantster who would literally use one or two lines as a springboard.”


“A good example of this is from my second book, A Passion Redeemed, where before I even wrote a single line of that novel, the following sentences popped into my mind:
“Well, he’s brought another prospect home for his pitiful daughter,” Charity said as she pushed her way through the kitchen door.

“Two,” he said, his tone casual as he rose from the table.  His tall frame unfolded to fill the kitchen, obliterating anything in her vision but him. “He brought two.” 

“Mind you, I could see, feel and hear the swinging door whoosh closed, see the hero slowly rising from his chair in the kitchen, and feel the pounding of Charity's heart as the candlesticks crashed to the floor. It was like a movie clip in my mind, which as a diehard pantser back then, was pretty much how I wrote most of my books.”

 “Not only did these two sentences become the framework for the final scene of the book, but for the entire novel as well, which pretty much confirms that when it comes to the writing craft, I can be a wee bit backwards ... ;)

Below is the scene from the final version in the published book:
     The door swung closed behind her in a swish of cool air. The box in her hands crashed to the floor. Everything stopped—her breathing, her heart, her brain—until she finally blinked. Then her hand flew to her mouth with a faint cry.
     “Excuse me,” her mother said with a giddy whisper, “But I think Emma and I will see to our other guest.” They hurried from the room, leaving the candlesticks scattered on the floor.
     A faint smile hovered on his lips as he took a step forward, as if waiting for her reaction. “You don’t do well with the element of surprise, do you, Charity?”
     She backed up against the counter, stumbling over the empty box. “What are you doing here?” she breathed. Her pulse was skyrocketing.
     He took another step. “Applying for a job. Assistant Editor for the Boston Herald. Ever hear of it?”
     She rubbed her skirt, wiping the sweat from her hands. Her voice was a mere rasp. “B-but I … thought Dillon …” She waved a trembling hand toward the door.
     He cocked a brow and kept moving, closing the distance between them. The clean line of his jaw was firm—a man on a mission, barely six feet away. “Nah. I think I may have the edge. I’m going to marry the editor’s daughter.”
Those two pantsered sentences set the stage for the entire book! Julie did much the same thing with the two sentences that opened her first book, (A Passion Most Pure). These sentences set the stage for all seven books that were to come.

“Sisters are overrated, she decided. Not all of them, of course, only the beautiful ones who never let you forget it.”

Frankly, I don’t see how anyone can keep track of hundreds of details over seven long books -- whether they are pantsers, plotters, or human computers. Julie always amazes.

What Happens When Pantser Writing Co-Authors Collide?

Lorie Langdon and Co-Author Carey Corp Were Once Pantsers 

“As to our writing process, Carey Corp and I both started out as pantsers - writing alternating chapters and discovering the story as we went along. But as you can imagine that didn't last long. At some point we had to begin planning ahead. Now we plot with bullet points and a synopsis, but it's still a loose plot, allowing us to infuse our creativity and have that sense of discovery as we write.

“We each write a character and then edit and polish each other’s work.“

Doon is an August release.

Lorie’s and Carey’s experience seems to show that successful pantsers will sometimes be required to plot – at least to a minimum degree. 


Virginia Carmichael – ‘Flash of Inspiration’ – “To the Rear, Pantser!”
Post Ex Pantser!

As Virginia will point out in her example coming up, pantsering isn’t always forward directed. Pantsering can happen well after most of the book has been written. In effect, a writing can be a post ex pantser.

 "As a pantser, one small theme of, Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs, (written as Jane Hathaway) occurred to me toward the end of the book. I suppose I could have plotted it out, but I was following the romance and not really worrying about underlying themes. Classic pantsering maneuver!

“At about 80% finished, I was wandering around on Pinterest and enjoying the American Primitives artfully displayed.

“Since  my “Jane Austen” series is set in the South, history is very important and family history is paramount to the story. I decided to add American Primitive furniture as a prominent part of the plot. I won't give away any spoilers but our heroine, who has fought being the caretaker for her family's old mansion, realizes how very much she's taken all of it for granted. I think this fits perfectly with her character arc, since she begins the story wanting to escape her small town,Thorny Hollow, and ends up discovering she'd never be happy anywhere else.
“Of course, I had to go back and insert this theme from the very beginning, in small doses, so that the plot point would have the emotional heft I needed. Some people call this layering and do it during the plotting stage. I call it a ‘flash of inspiration’ and it happens when it happens."

What a great way to end this Workshop – On a ‘Flash of Inspiration!’

Now…How About You?  Do you have anything to add about how you pantser or plot? Do you have any questions for our panel of experts?

BONUS MATERIAL: Not sure if you are a Pantser or Plotter? Take the test and find out. Click here to go to the Seekerville web page to download the pdf.

 Please leave a comment for an opportunity to win a copy of any of the books mentioned today as available on Amazon. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Vince Mooney is a friend of Seekerville. He’s a retired marketing creative person and college teacher who now runs a real estate school by mail and writes romances and nonfiction books on writing. He was university trained to be a philosopher and runs the Philosophy of Romance web site. It’s been said that sometimes it’s hard to tell when he is being serious. 


Jackie said...

Vince, I've enjoyed your two part series on plotting versus pantsering.

I even stayed up late to read it.

Thanks for sharing with us. And tomorrow I'll take the test but I'm pretty sure how it'll turn out.

Helen Gray said...

I plot, but I'm flexible. I lay out a rough outline and have fun with the details as I go. So I guess that means there's a bit of pantser in my blood. Like Janet, I need to know how the story ends so I can figure out to get there.

Coffee's ready.


Marianne Barkman said...

So, Helen, do you read the last page/chapter of a novel before you read the beginning, or do you read the whole book backwards? (I know someone who does this with some novels, honest). Would love to win, though I'm neither, as I'm not a writer.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Interesting question, Marianne. I read the first few chapters and then I read the ending.

Helen Gray said...


I refrain from reading the ending of a novel written by someone else--unless I'm so bored with it that I jump to the end just so I can feel that I finished it.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Helen, does your husband mind that you are practicing the trumpet all the time?

Melissa Jagears said...

Oh, how can you read the ending on a book you're enjoying? THAT'S the fun of reading a book!

The only way I'll read the end of the book before the rest is if I intend to drop it, but have a bit of curiosity over how it's resolved, or if it's really lame, seeing if the ending is train-wreck lame.

But the people who read the end before deciding on reading it? I just don't get it.......but wait. Maybe Vince will say that's weird:

I'm a plotter, so I know the end of my book before I even begin, but I'd NEVER read the end of a book before the rest, preferring to (hopefully) be delightfully surprised with everything. So am I a panstering reader??? :) Isn't that why pansters say they don't want to plot, because knowing the ending takes the joy out of the journey?

Tina Radcliffe said...

What's the surprise in a romance? It's HEA.

Melissa Jagears said...

The only surprise is how the HEA comes about, the romantic awwwwwwww, so then there's no surprise whatsoever if you read it. Of course, I've read romances with terribly unromantic endings.....

So then, what are you looking for by reading the ending of a romance if you know it's a HEA, just to make sure it's a HEA?

Vince said...

“What's the surprise in a romance? It's HEA.”

Hi Tina:

The surprise is how they get to the HEA. I love it went I think I have the HEA all figured out and then it happens another way and that way was foreshadowed by the author. That’s very pleasing. And then, like in Julie’s Emma book, I’m sure I have the ending all figured out and I’m not happy at all with the only ending I think is possible, and then Julie does something I never expected. It was an amazing ending. HEA, yes. The same no.

The old saying about romances is:

“Readers what the same – only different”.

But it is late and I know you know all this.

BTW: I love what you did with the chalk board. If only I could have written on the board that well when I was teaching. Your bumper stickers are a hoot. I did not see them until I came back to read this new post. That was fast and funny.

And I really like what you did with the bonus material. Please let people know the test is meant to be funny and to even things out for the plotters who were greatly out numbered. I don't think anyone really needs a test to tell if they are a plotter or pantser. : )


Vince said...

“The only way I'll read the end of the book before the rest is if I intend to drop it, but have a bit of curiosity over how it's resolved, or if it's really lame, seeing if the ending is train-wreck lame.”

Hi Melissa:

I won’t even do that to a book I am not going to finish. I won’t do it to the author. I also feel like I did not earn the HEA experience because I didn’t read up to the ending. When I devalue one HEA, I feel like I am devaluating all of them. This makes no real sense since I paid for the book and can do what I want but that’s how I feel. It may be weird but I think weird in an ethical way. : )


Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I'm afraid to take the test. What I find out I'm really plotter? Then Vince will be right and I will be wrong.

I think I'd rather struggle 'wrong-handed' for the rest of my life.

:D Seriously, I'm off to take the test!

Abbi Hart said...

I'm not much of a writer but if I was I can definitely see myself as more of a pantser. As I got started I'd probably try to plan but then just give up and pants it!

Cindy W. said...

Thank you Vince for both wonderful posts. I know I have a lot to learn. I took your test and I fall in the Panster column with tendencies to roam over into the Plotter territory. I do want and need to work on my plotting. Thank you for the kick in the panster.

Would love to be entered in the giveaway.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Ruth Logan Herne said...

First, Vince, I OWE YOU FOR PROMO-ING MY BOOKS!!!! :) You rock, your check is in the mail, my friend!!!!

Seriously, I have loved seeing how others do 'this' job, and I can see that Virginia and I are similar in how we attack... we begin with an idea, weave the romance, and then snatch stuff out of thin air (I find inspiration almost weekly in the church readings, and grasp hold of some tiny or major thing, then carry it carefully back home in my sieve-like brain so I don't forget the brilliance I felt in church. Sometimes this means I give my husband or daughter a "cue" word to jar my memory when I get back home.)

I'm thrilled to have two Christmas novels coming out this year, just to make my buddy VINCE!!!! happy! And Try, Try Again starts at Christmas, so maybe that counts, too! ;)

Vince, I think the fact that the gals had to plan more for "Doon" is understandable. Two brains, unless fused in Vulcan Mind Meld Mode, can't share facts and emotions, etc. so you have to have a game plan of sorts, right? That makes perfect sense to me.

I think we "see" Pantser/Plotter as being a choice or learned thing, but I really believe it's solid, physical how-your-brain's-wired state of being.

And if what you're doing works for you... then my money's on keep on doing it!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

You know, seeing Janet's simple, wise words and devices, I see how that makes sense to folks. To know the ending... and then build toward it.

Whereas I know there's going to be a happy ending... I don't know how or where it will be, the story will build toward that location/moment/happily ever after...

So maybe part of the difference is precision? Pantsers don't start with as much precision at the get-go... and then they tie things together as they build.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I can't read the ending to a book unless I've read the book...

If it's throw-across-the-room-bad, I just don't look because I probably don't give a hoot...

So that's an interesting difference. I remember when Audra (I think) told me she does that, and it was like eating the triangle point of a piece of pie first...

If in your head, that singular bite is the BEST, I save it for last, building to it.

That's like the ending of a book to me.

The point of the piece of pie, the perfect triangle.

And now you know I'm beyond certifiable!!!

Kav said...

I'm definitely a punster, but I know the ending as clearly as I know the starting point and a few pivotal points in the story before I start writing. That doesn't count as plotting, does it?

As to reading the ending of a book before it's time...well...GASP!!!!! That's against the rules, isn't it? It should be!

kaybee said...

Vince this is fabulous.
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

"Someday you'll find it, that rainbow connection, the PLOTTER, the PANTSER and you!" With apologies to Kermit the Frog.
Kathy Bailey

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Loved everyone's insights.

I love the fact I have a one page synopsis to refer to! It is keeping me sane. But I still don't know how I will get from point A to point B. That is the fun and the mystery of writing for me.

Peace, Julie

Ruth Logan Herne said...

KAYBEE!!! i LOVE THE RAINBOW CONNECTION... The Rainbow Connection with Kermit the Frog

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I blew the link... sigh....

The Rainbow Connection Starring Kermit the Frog

Let's try this again...

kaybee said...

Thank you Ruthy.
Mary is usually right, too. (Riffing on yesterday...)
I wish I had something more substantial to add, but am a little frazzled today.

Ruth Logan Herne said...


Although I love these peekers.... I'm listening to Kermit right now...

And totally identifying with him.


Piper Huguley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Piper Huguley said...

Hi Seekerville!

I love hearing about how everyone works through their process.

Ruthy is the one who validated my main approach--write around a bit to get to know the characters and then to plot.

Part of all this is making sure that structure is well-considered. Years of graduate school did not teach me the importance of structure. However, now I understand how crucial structure is to story telling. So I do a bit of both in my process, but when it comes back to problems, tying together loose ends, sagging middles, etc. it goes back to structure. It may be that people who are able to panster an entire novel have structure ingrained as part of their process. Plotters may need to see it visually.

In practice however, the extremes have worked a little differently for me, so I am either weird or just all over the place: I was a pure panster on A Virtuous Ruby, the first novel in my series. However, in the two years since, I've had big issues in getting the structure back in there after the fact. Obviously, structure is not ingrained in my process.

A Champion's Heart, the fourth book, was plotted from the beginning and poured forth very easily. I've received many compliments about how well structured it is, even if other things are going on with it. It has seemed easier to fix those things--but was it because it was plotted from the start?

I'm comfortable with my process changing from novel to novel, as long as they keep coming. Thanks for all of your insights over these two days Vince!


Jamie Adams said...

I took the test although I already knew the answer, but I had to laugh at the Annie Oakley comment. It reminded me of something that happened years ago.

My husband and sons were shooting a paint ball gun trying to hit a soda can on a log across the yard. They hit all around it: above, under, on either side but not the can.

I laughed.

They said 'you try it.'

I took the gun, swung it toward the log and fired. The can flew off the log.

Sally said...

Reading the last page/chapter of a book is wrong? I do it all the time! But then I have to go back and read because I want to know how the story got there. I also eat dessert first, might as well while I'm still hungry and can enjoy it lol. I am complete panster, but maybe that's because I'm not published and have no idea. Any suggestions? What I'm working on now, I have no idea how it will end. I know it will be a happily ever after ending, but I have no idea of the obstacles and twists that will come up along the way. I'm afraid if I have it all plotted out, I won't be able to incorporate panstering. Everything will be lined out and I have to follow it rigidly. Does it work that way, or does plotting still give you (lots) of room to wiggle? Please do not think of the Wiggles. Those songs will get in your head and then you won't be able to get rid of them! Thanks for your input and I'd love to be entered in the drawing.

tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

Courtney Faith said...

Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chilli-Slaw Dogs!! Oh my, that book sounds like it will combine two of my favorite things! Going to have to check that out. . .

Like I said, I'm a beginner. For the story I'm working on now, I started with my main character and her tremendous fear of storms. Now I'm halfway through the first draft with a fairly good idea of the ending....just not how my characters will get there yet.

(Side-note: Does anybody else HATE auto-correct? I had to erase a hundred words to write this comment. Lol!)

Janet Dean said...

Fun to see the different processes and read these great excerpts!

I may be a plotter but my characters do surprise me. The changes they suggest add emotion, an interesting layer to their character, etc. but not the course of the book. So maybe that's the final test of panster/plotter. My characters add to the story but they don't take over. :-)


Janet Dean said...

I would never read the ending of a story first. The HEA ending is only special when I've seen the characters grow and overcome the conflict--in other words become worthy of that ending.


Marianne Barkman said...

I should have said, reading the book from back to forward for my friend is not something she does to books she might not finish...she says she can enjoy the book better when she knows which friends survive in a suspense novel. I guess I would be a punster if I wrote...I don't even plan my days or weeks in life!

Vince said...

“Like Janet, I need to know how the story ends so I can figure out how to get there.”

Hi Helen:

Your comment makes so much sense I just have to wonder why everyone is not a plotter. Perhaps you don’t have to know where ‘there’ is if your characters know and are willing to take you home…just like the horse did in the old days. : )

Vince said...

“I even stayed up late to read it”

Hi Jackie:

Now that is a sincere compliment. Thanks so much. : )

Tina Radcliffe said...

A punster? We're creating new vocabulary. Love it!!

Vince said...

“As I got started I'd probably try to plan but then just give up and pants it!

Hi Abbi:

That sounds just like my New Year’s Resolutions. I think the writing world may be full of ‘fallen away’ Plotters. LOL. Thanks for your insights. I think you hit the bull’s eye.

Vince said...

“I took your test and I fall in the Panster column with tendencies to roam over into the Plotter territory.”

Hi Cindy W:

You know your comment reminded me of an insight that Edwina inspired about what we are. Here was my comment for today’s readers:

“That’s a great comment and insight. Perhaps Pantser/Plotter is not something we ‘are’ but something we ‘do’. We are not converting ourselves so much as we are doing something in a different way. And everyone is right when they say do what works for you and what works for you given the novel you are writing and the state of your craftsmanship."

Perhaps we need a paradigm shift from being Pantsers or Plotters to ‘doing’ pantsering and plotting at any given time.

Vince said...

‘As to reading the ending of a book before it's time...well...GASP!!!!! That's against the rules, isn't it? It should be!”

Hi Kav:

If it is not against the rules, it should be. Besides, I don’t think a gentleman would ever do that to a lady author. That would be like watching a woman taking a bath in the woods. Even if she nevers learns of it, it still is not right. I’m with you and Ruth. The rules are with Reading itself – not the poor author.

Vince said...

"Someday you'll find it, that rainbow connection, the PLOTTER, the PANTSER and you!"

Hi Kaybee:

After all these posts and comments I think that day is here! Maybe we’re plotters when we plot and pantsers when we pantser and we just call ourselves one or the other depending on how much importance we give to each approach at that point in our writing career.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Vince, I always thought I was a hard core plotter until now and after taking the test, I see I'm happily both. Its fun to learn something new about yourself. LOL

I have to say though that I like the left brain part of writing the best. Revising and editing is much more fun than creating. But to create, I have to go to the panster element. sigh.

Thanks for sharing with us. I love how you used all the examples from Seeker and Seeker friend's books.

Sandra Leesmith said...

BTW I'm like TINA and others. I always read the ending after I've read a couple chapters, esp if its a great book. I just can't wait that long to see how it resolves. It doesn't take away from the story though because if I love the book, I don't want it to end.

Vince said...

“But I still don't know how I will get from point A to point B. That is the fun and the mystery of writing for me.”

Hi Julie Hilton Steele:

This reminds me of how I like to travel. My wife and I knew we were going to Europe and that we had a Europass for the trains. That’s it! Twenty one days without a single reservation. Couldn’t find a hotel? No problem, just take the night train to somewhere. Those were the days! Of course, we didn’t have an editor waiting for our report of the trip. : )

Tina Radcliffe said...

I am justified. Thank you, Sandra!!! HA!!!! I rest my case.

Melissa Jagears said...

So Tina, what are you looking for exactly? Just like Sandra? Too anstsy to wait?

Melissa Jagears said...

That would be antsy...I'm too antsy for your blogger comment to proofread. :)

Jamie Adams said...

I never read the last page until I reach it. I am tempted to, but it would ruin the story.

Cindy Regnier said...

So I downloaded Vince's bonus material and as I already knew - I get an A as a pantser and a D- as a plotter. Now my homework - work on my plotting skills. Makes sense. Always been right handed and never any motivational to use my left - except when I paint my nails. GREAT information Vince. Thanks so much!

Cindy Regnier said...

So I downloaded Vince's bonus material and as I already knew - I get an A as a pantser and a D- as a plotter. Now my homework - work on my plotting skills. Makes sense. Always been right handed and never any motivational to use my left - except when I paint my nails. GREAT information Vince. Thanks so much!

Vince said...

Kaybee & Ruth

Did you notice that Kermit plays the banjo left-handed? That means he is probably a plotter. And did you get the Rainbow symbolism?

Everyone knows a Rainbow has an end! Yes, and they know that at the end there is a pot of gold! And it belongs to the Plotters and the Irish.


As they say in logic: Q.E.D..

I feel like singing. Oh for a Gondola! ♫♫♪♪♫♪♫!

Playground Monitor said...

I still say I'm a plotzer. After taking Vince's test, I think I have more pantster tendencies though. Deadlines scare me.

I have a new idea now and all I know so far is the heroine is a massage therapist who also does Reiki and the hero is a soldier with PTSD who thinks it's all a bunch of hooey but his sister has insisted he see this woman for help because the VA is starting to use massage and Reiki in addition to therapy and medications to treat PTSD. And that's it. Been stuck there for a month.

Happy day-before-Friday! Or in my case, happy pay day.


Vince said...

“It may be that people who are able to panster an entire novel have structure ingrained as part of their process. Plotters may need to see it visually.”

Hi Piper:

I think you are on to something here. I’m very visual. I must see it to understand it. If I’m building a bridge across a river, I want to see the plans.

But then there is Myra who makes sure that each scene leads necessarily into the next one. That forces an internal logic on the narrative even if it would not be called a superstructure. It would be like building a bridge one segment at a time across the river. It would not be the same kind of bridge as a plotter would build but it might turn out to be a better bridge!

Great insights. Thanks.

Vince said...

“They said 'you try it.'

I took the gun, swung it toward the log and fired. The can flew off the log.”

Hi Jamie:

That seems to always happen to men. I bet you didn’t repeat the shot no matter how many times they asked. Good for you.

Jamie Adams said...

The paint gun disappeared :)

Vince said...

“I'm afraid if I have it all plotted out, I won't be able to incorporate panstering. Everything will be lined out and I have to follow it rigidly.”

Hi Sally:

Plotting is like using training wheels on a two wheel bike. It can prevent injuries while you are learning the craft.

Also, I doubt that even more most committed plotter ever followed the plot to the “T”. I started with a 78 poge outline and wound up adding a lot of scenes because they were funnier.

They say that you have to write something in order to edit it. If you have a plot and know where you are going, then it is much easier to make mid-course corrections. That's change within a context.

Of course, if you can fly through the fog with zero visibility and still land where you are going safely, then flying by the seat of your pants is a great exercise.

Vince said...

“My characters add to the story but they don't take over.”

Hi Janet:

I think you make a major point here. I agree. I see the author as the director of the movie. Actors have a lot of freedom to exprese their roles but when they want to rewrite the script, it’s back to central casting.

Then there are authors who ask their characters to tell their stories and then enable them to do just that. These are enablers. They go to pantser Al-Anon…that is, if they admit they have a problem.

It’s just a matter of who is in charge. : )

Vince said...

“The HEA ending is only special when I've seen the characters grow and overcome the conflict--in other words become worthy of that ending.”

Hi Janet:

I agree with this and will go one step further. I think the reader also has to earn the HEA by entering into the story and ‘playing’ the author’s efforts well in the ‘theater of her mind.’

Mozart’s music is great even if the person playing it isn’t very proficient. Readers have a responsibility, too. (Of course, we can’t say that. We’re like retailers who claim that the customer is always right.)

Tina Radcliffe said...

I'm still reeling over the 78 page outline. Yesterday I could ignore it. Today it haunts me.

Jan Drexler said...

I took the test in the bonus material, but ended up with the same score for both plotter and panster.

It could mean something important...but mostly, I think it just means my brain and body are both exhausted from three evenings of VBS in a row.

Or, it might mean that I enjoy both having a path laid out in front of me, and the freedom to follow the rabbit trails and to explore what's around the next bend.

No wonder it takes so long for me to write a book!

Thanks for the great two-day post, Vince!

Vince said...

“she says she can enjoy the book better when she knows which friends survive in a suspense novel.”

Hi Marianne:

I think there is something to this. I read Julie Lessman’s “A Light in the Window” after I read her first six books. This was a prequel as it were. It was how the story all got started. I knew not only how things would come out, I also knew them in great detail. I knew what the characters in the story did not know. I was in a very privledged position as the reader. I liked the feeling.

So there was not going to be a surprise for me as I knew most of the future and yet I think this was the most enjoyable book of all. That future knowledge made every action more meaningful.

Mary talks about fans of Harry Potter going back over the first books looking for clues that were left to indicate things that will happen in the future. I can see how that would be fun to such fans.

So I think that what your friend is doing could well be a way to get the best reading experience. I do think it would be a daring move to try doing this for most readers. It might be worth a try on a free Kindle book. : )

Vince said...

“Revising and editing is much more fun than creating. But to create, I have to go to the panster element. sigh.”

Hi Sandra:

That’s interesting. I love the creation part. I love making plots and writing the first draft. I don’t like editing. When I was a photographer I loved creating pictures but I thought the darkroom work was just like washing dishes. No fun at all even thought a lot of photography used to take place in the darkroom.

Ansel Adams photos come with darkroom instructions. They cannot be taken as printed by a camera alone. But those days are gone. Now you just photoshop it.

So I think there is a difference between being a pantser and a plotter and not liking the editing process. I think people who like to edit and polish are called published authors. People like me, who love to create, collect WIPs. : )


Playground Monitor said...

"I'm still reeling over the 78 page outline."

Yeah, me too, Tina.


Julie Lessman said...

WOW, Vince ... this could be a workshop at ACFW, NO JOKE!!!

But then, your brain is SO much deeper than most people's, that I pretty much think ANYTHING you would teach could be a workshop ... even your comments at times!!

I'm going to FB right now to share and tweet the heck out of this, my friend!!


Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

I just love the theme of your Salvation Army Christmas story. I do have a question: when does the story take place? It seems form your description that it takes place in the 1950’s. Is that the case? Was the hero’s father killed in WWII? I think the SA was a much bigger part of Christmas back then.

Can’t wait to get some free time to read. I’m moving my office and doing blogs and revising real estate courses because of big changes in the law and missing my reading. But I’ll get it right, even if I have to Try, Try, Again.

Helen Gray said...


Ken is tolerant of the trumpet. And the piano. And the gee-tar. And the tapes. And the dummy.

He understands that a gal has to have her toys. :)

Vince said...


Julie – Thanks for Sharing this Workshop on Facebook! I did it too but I only have a little following. I better batten down the hatches and get ready for a transformational change!

Clari Dees said...

I am thoroughly enjoying seeing the differences and the similarities in how we approach story-telling!

And I must admit that I've been known to skip ahead to the last couple pages of a book to find out what happens. But my reason might be a bit different. Years ago, I was completely shocked by the ending of an old book (I think it was a Harold Bell Wright title). I had been rooting for the wrong guy the whole book--he didn't get the girl! Maybe I was too young to pick up any subtleties in the book, but for a long time, I didn't trust that an author wouldn't betray me, so I would check the ending to make sure I knew who was going to win the day.

Vince said...

“Or, it might mean that I enjoy both having a path laid out in front of me, and the freedom to follow the rabbit trails and to explore what's around the next bend.”

Hi Jan:

I think you hit the nail on the head here. The perfect combination. Plotting is like having a guardian angel. You’re still free to sin or do the right thing. Like I said before, plotters like to pantser every chance they get as long as it is within the plot and if it is really, really, good then the plot can be changed.

So while plotters love to pantser, I know I do, pantsers don’t seem to love to plot. We have to work on that.

BTW: I assume you were teaching VBS. Teaching can be like wrestling a bear. : )

Bless the teachers.

Vince said...

“I'm afraid to take the test. What I find out I'm really plotter? Then Vince will be right…”

Hi Virginia:

Take the test and don’t worry about me being right or wrong. A test I created to prove I was right would never stand up in court.

Vince said...

“I had been rooting for the wrong guy the whole book--he didn't get the girl!”

Hi Clari:

That’s one of my pet peeves! At least you were vicarious the woman and got a guy. I was the wrong guy, vicariously, in Julie’s second book, and Charity didn’t pick me!!! Of course, the guy that didn’t get Charity at the time was the winner. : )

Vince said...

“I'm still reeling over the 78 page outline.”

Hi Tina:

It was a pantsered outline. It went something like this:

“I’m going to open with x, then it would be funny is y happens and then the hero meets the heroine at the cabin and he thinks she is the maid getting it ready for him, that insults her (P&P) but she is dressed like the maid, and then he appolizes for scaring her bears away from the cabin with his loud motorcycle, he thinks she is a ‘animal lady’ but the bears were trying to get into the cabin to eat her and then z happens and the hero is shocked by something the heroine says and he asks her if she was a nun and she says she was for ten years and then r happens and then she say something cute and he says something like, I'm a Special Forces Captain, I can't be stranded in a cabin with a nun, and she says no one is stranded and you're not staying here and he says "I just jumped the creek. The flash flood took out the bridge, we are stranded here,” and then w happens...

Pure pantsering, pure fun, they could hear me laughing down at the pool, three stories below. This outline contains a great many jokes.

I should get credit for pantsering. It’s a pantsered plot. It’s not a NASA go to the moon timeline. : )

Tina Radcliffe said...

But in all the time you wrote x, y and could have been writing the book.

Vince said...

“But in all the time you wrote x, y and could have been writing the book.”

Hi Tina:

No, no. You have to round the cattle up while they are there. Then when you have all the cattle, you start your trail drive to the rail head. In comedy you have to get the jokes down first. A lot of them. If I started writing the book for real, then I would have missed out on many -- if not most -- of the jokes.

Besides, I did write the book. It was easy with all those jokes to feed me along the way. And I had the wonderful ending that took place at the RWA when the heroine and hero’s sister are both up for the same RITA and he was a CP on both books. Every time I’d get tired of writing I would look up at that ending, like a shining city on a hill, and it would inspire me to push on home. I'd get going because the fight was worth the candle.

Write a fantastic ending first and the rest is much easier.

Plotters Know Where They Are Going.

Pantsers know where they’ve Been.

Which POV do you want?

Missy Tippens said...

Another great day, Vince!

I went and took your quiz. I answered yes on 2 of each of them. LOL I guess I'm not really a plotter after all. I'm a hybrid. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Hated being away from my computer yesterday and missing the first of your two-day blog, Vince!!!

Great info that needs to be reread a number of times.

All the pantsers have me longing to be less of a plotter. Their writing adventures sound spontaneous and fun. Mine often call for hair pulling and long walks in the woods until the plot develops.

Must take your bonus quiz. I'll let you know how I do. :)

Darlene Buchholz said...

I thought I was a plotter. But recently, all I do is stop myself with trying to work out details in advance. So last week I gave myself permission to plot ahead by only 20-30 pages, though I have an overview in mind. Maybe this makes me a mini-plotser.

Love the feedback and sharing here as always!

Natalie Monk said...

Well, I took the test, and I think I must be a panster, because I sometimes get bored after I know what happens down the road. But I love LOVE brainstorming and plotting at the beginning. So I'm not really sure.

Question for Vince: Being as you encourage plotters and pantsers to "bat with both hands," Do you think certain stages of novel-crafting could be divided up according to which technique is most helpful to that moment in the process? For example, pre-writing might be a small plotting zone where the main characters, setting, some research, and possibly the ending is established. Then pantsering from one major plot point to the next? I guess it could vary per writer considering his/her place in the writing journey. But I still dream of a perfect world with story stages divided into color-coded "plot here" and "pantser here" zones. :)

I'm also recovering from a cold, so that's my excuse if any of the above makes no sense. :)

Thanks for this post!

Naomi Rawlings said...

I put my books together like a jigsaw puzzle. I know what the big picture looks like (working with themes and vague ideas most of the time). Then I put the beginning together the way you would do the edges of a puzzle, and then I fill in the middle. Sometimes I try a piece in the wrong place before I figure out the right spot. But it all comes together in the end.

Sandra Leesmith said...

VINCE you are too funny. No you don't HAVE to like the editing. I equate it to a puzzle. I love puzzles.

So maybe it is altogether different. Maybe I like it because it is straight forward. To plot and to pantster you have to really work at forcing something out. With editing it is cut and dry. You know what you have to do.
Maybe that is why I like it.
And probably why you don't because you seem like one who loves adventure, exploration and the unknown.

Vince said...

This sounds very logical. Like a plotter you see the big picture and then at the lower level choose how the smaller pieces are going to go together. This is somewhat like a pantser.

The main problem with the puzzle is that the picture is predetermined. Even if you pantser the order in which the small pieces are put together, when it is all done, the picture is the same.

I think Socrates would be fine with this as he would say the novel already exists and your job as a writer is to remember it. But I think both pantsers and plotters would want the freedom to keep changing the narrative at any point that a better idea occurs. Plotters will make major changes to the plot – especially if CPs point out fatal flaws. A plot can be terrible when considered on reflection. But a plot can save time because you can see all the connections. So when one plot element changes, you should be able to see both forward and backward what other changes will be necessary to accommodate the new changes.

If you are pantsering, it could be hard to see how that change will affect the future of your narrative because you have not gone there yet. And that is one of the big drawbacks of pantsering. At first pantsering seems like the ultimate in freedom; yet, with every choice the pantser makes as the story progresses, options start closing for future actions. Since “A” happened in the first chapter, now “B”, “C”, and “D” cannot happen at the end of the book. A plotter knows up front what each action has foreclosed in the future of the narrative. This is way pantsers can run into real ‘sagging middle’ problems – lots of great ‘un-sagging’ options were closed.

As you’ll read on Tina’s chalk board: pantsering and plotting choices can affect every thing we write. That’s why it can be very helpful to know the implications of each approach.

Of course, if you view the picture on the puzzle as also being drawn by your efforts and not fixed in time, then I think you have a very workable analogy. I think I could work that way. It seems a little like a Gestalt type of plotting. I like it because I’m visual and like to think in terms of pictures.

Thanks. You gave me a whole lot to think about.

Jackie Smith said...

I have enjoyed Vince's well as the comments from writers. I am just a reader and would like to be "in" for the giveaway.

Tina Radcliffe said...

So, Naomi,you don't always write in a linear fashion. That's interesting. I know a lot of writers who do that successfully as well.

I do that when I am stuck. It helps to go ahead and write the scenes that I do know are going in the book.

Vince said...

“Question for Vince: Being as you encourage plotters and pantsers to "bat with both hands," Do you think certain stages of novel-crafting could be divided up according to which technique is most helpful to that moment in the process?”

Hi Natalie:

Yes, it would seem to reason that for each job, there would be a best tool to use for that job. A pro handyman will have the right tool for the right job. This makes him much faster than the amateur.

I think the plotting or pantsering approach is just that -- an approach -- and a tool. I also think that the very fast writers, who write four to six books a year, know this. I think when they write they just choose the right approach automatically.

In this sense I agree with the commenter yesterday who said she didn’t care about pantsering or plotting. What counted was what worked. I think these fast writers (who get all these books published) just use the approach that works best at the moment given the writing job they are doing. (But they would have had many years of learning the craft before all this became so automatic).

This can differ for the type of story the author is writing and the skill level of the writer. It could be that one tool is by far the best but the writer is still more proficient with the wrong tool. Then it would pay to use the wrong tool but it would not pay in the long run. The real pro learns how to use the right tool even if it takes more time in the beginning.

I point this ‘wrong tool’ out because while plotting might be best in concept, for a given writer pantsering still might work better. It’s like the Amish woman said: “A horse and buggy works for me. Why change?”

Vince said...

“So last week I gave myself permission to plot ahead by only 20-30 pages, though I have an overview in mind. Maybe this makes me a mini-plotser.”

Hi Darlene:

Yes, you might be said to be a ‘mini-plotser’ or an incremental plotter like Myra building that bridge one segment at a time. I see no reason why that could not work. Let us know how that permission mission works. I think it’s a workable idea.

Janet Dean said...

Vince said: I think the reader also has to earn the HEA by entering into the story and ‘playing’ the author’s efforts well in the ‘theater of her mind.’

Vince, I hadn't thought of your point but you're right on. Readers bring themselves to the story, which probably explains the variety of responses to it. Good and bad.


Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Thanks for bringing us this, Vince! Loved to see what everyone does!

To share something of myself, I have a rough outline when I start, but it always changes. And I can't write out of sequence. I can think of future scenes, but I can't write them until I know what my characters think and feel by that time in the book.

Debby Giusti said...

I believe someone mentioned that most writers sell on proposal, which means they need to write a synopsis...whether they're a pantser or plotter.

A plotter might write a more detailed synopsis while the pantser may provide only a brief overview. Yet...often editors want that detailed synopsis to ensure the plot works and the story is something they're willing to buy.

So adding an editor to the mix can change the dynamic, IMHO.

Mary Curry said...

Vince, I'm so sorry I missed this discussion. I've had a lot going on at home. :(

I wonder if my writing style is mostly because I don't write for a living. I have a full time job that demands my time. Writing is something I do for me and for my own enjoyment. I like the idea of telling myself a story through my writing and finding out what happens as I go. That's what I posted about in my blog here last year about writing into the mist.

It's an adventure.

I can certainly understand why someone who needs to write a proposal for a sale would have to plot in advance. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Thanks for two days of such thoughtful discussion.

Vince said...

“Readers bring themselves to the story, which probably explains the variety of responses to it. Good and bad.”

Hi Janet:

It also explains why I look at writing as creating a ‘reading experience’ in the reader’s mind and not just as putting words on paper. In a way, authors are creating sheet music that has little music in it until it is played in the mind of a listener.

The real and end product is the performance and not the book itself.

This is true of pantsers and plotters alike. Writing is a performance art.

But now we are moving into philosophy. This is something for another time!


Vince said...

“And I can't write out of sequence. I can think of future scenes, but I can't write them until I know what my characters think and feel by that time in the book.”

Hi Eva Maria:

Have you’ve tried? What would happen if you had a big mandatory scene like when the father discovers the ‘hidden child’ is really his. This can be the biggest scene in this themed book. What would happen if you wrote it way out of sequence? Would this tell you what you still don’t know about the characters? Would this challenge the characters to step forward and tell you where you are wrong? Writing out of sequence might be a good skill to work on just to see what happens and to have it in your tool kit.

Just an idea.


Vince said...

“often editors want that detailed synopsis to ensure the plot works and the story is something they're willing to buy.”

Hi Debby:

Indeed! If a salesman was trying to sell you a twenty-one day tour of 17 European cities and he could not give you an literary but just told you it would really be good, would you be very willing to buy it?

But do you have to be a full fledged plotter to do a good synopsis? They are not the same thing. Perhaps we need a new category:

The Synopsister!

It’s not a plot. It’s a long pitch. It’s a climb twenty stories using the stairways pitch. It’s not how to write your book. It’s just your story told in present tense as if you were talking to a friend.

Vince said...

“That's what I posted about in my blog here last year about writing into the mist.”

Hi Mary:

I remember that image: writing into the mist. It is mystic. It’s the kind of water droplets that make rainbows possible. And as a pilot who was not instrument rated, it could get me killed. Quick.

“We are not birds”, my flight instructor used to say. Your body lies to you. It tells you that you are climbing at high speed when you are actually speeding down to earth. You must trust your instruments. You are not a bird. You are not a bird.

I think plotters trust their instruments and pantsers trust their instincts. You know where I come out. I’m a pilot who is still alive. It is thrilling to fly into a mist. My instructor would do it to see how fast he could get me disoriented. Pantsers take that risk – unless they get instrument rated! That’s why I think both plotters and pantsers benefit by getting better at doing the other approach.

Enjoy your writing. You are in the age of innocence. The age before deadlines.


Walt Mussell said...

I know I'm a plotter, without even taking the test. However, I'm surprised to learn that Julie is a panster. I never would have guessed this.

Vince said...

Hi Walt:

I feel the same way. Julie's books are so complex and span so many years it's hard to see how they could be pantsered. It's like believing the human eye came about by atoms interacting on their own.

So it goes. That's why these Seekerville posts are so interesting.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hey VINCE. Is always good to keep you thinking. chuckle.

Thanks for joining us these past two days. You always give all of us lots to think about also.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Thanks to all guest instructors. Super lessons, with EXAMPLES! I learn from examples!!!

After reviewing the material, I'm still a pantster with an overlay of plotting now that I'm on book 3. It saved a LOT of time for me, using Snowflake.

If I would really use it fully, I'd save even more time, but that must be where the pantster in me rebels and I have to let the characters tell me what's happening next.

All in all, it's a terrific process that I enjoy. Although the time invested is immense. But I enjoy the surprises as much or more as the readers I hope!

Thanks Seekerville, and Vince, for sharing these insights. I'm looking forward to the test to see what I learn from that!

Yes - please toss my name into the dish. Would love to win any of these wonderful authors' books! (though I have some already!)

CatMom said...

Vince, haven't been able to visit until now (late Thurs. night on the east coast) but wanted to say thank you for hosting (and posting) these 2 days (I commented yesterday also but not sure it went through).

SO interesting to read about different approaches and viewpoints--and what works for certain writers. I especially enjoyed reading about Myra's Pantsering talent (yes, I think she is a TRUE pantser *smile*).
Blessings, Patti Jo

Wendy Newcomb said...

Very interesting article, both parts!


Vince said...

“I especially enjoyed reading about Myra's Pantsering talent (yes, I think she is a TRUE pantser *smile*).

Hi CatMom:

Myra pantsered a book so unique and compelling, “Autumn Rains” that it won the first Philosophy of Romance Book of the Year. Of course at the time I thought it was plotted. : )

Myra does pantsering right – that is with what I think is the best chance of being successful. Her books are proof of that. I’m so happy that all these authors just came out and told everyone how they did things. This is very generous.

BTW: I think I missed your question yesterday but it was a very good comment and I answered it tonight. Thanks for taking part in the discussion two days in a row.


Vince said...

“Hey VINCE. Is always good to keep you thinking. chuckle.”

Hi Sandra:

I think so too. That’s why I like to visit the folks here at Seekerville. I’m like a shark who has to always keep swimming except with me it’s thinking. I especially like your children’s books and KC’s May K9 books because they make the reader think on more than one level and that’s good mental exercise. I never thought I would experice Paris from a foot off the groud but I did. And I never thought a coyote would be a hero but you had one.

But that is the joy of reading.

Thanks again to all the authors who sent in their experiences and all the folks who left comments so we could share our experiences. It made these two days a fun event I will remember for a long time.


Mary Preston said...

It's truly fascinating to read about the different writing processes involved.

Julie Lessman said...

VINCE SAID: "Of course, the guy that didn’t get Charity at the time was the winner. : )"

LOL ... I beg your pardon ... that's my alter ego you're talking about there, Mr. Mooney!! You said you were the "wrong guy vicariously" in book 2, so you wanted to be Rigan??? Mmm ... another interesting layer to the Mooney onion, which would put a Vidalia to shame!! ;)


Julie Lessman said...

WALT SAID: "However, I'm surprised to learn that Julie is a panster. I never would have guessed this."

ACTUALLY, WALT ... I started OUT as a pure-blood pantster, but by book 3 of The Daughters of Boston, I started drowning in timeline facts (birthdays, anniversaries for 15 people!!), so I broke down and created an age chart that would boggle your mind! :) By the 4th book, I acquiesced my full-fledged "pantser" card to write 7-8-page synopses that helped me wade through the murky waters of this soap-opera family. So although I have acquired some plotting tendancies, I am -- and always will be -- a true pantster at heart! :)


Vince said...

“You said you were the "wrong guy vicariously" in book 2, so you wanted to be Rigan??? Mmm…

Hi Julie:

No, I did not want to be Rigan so I must have my books mixed up. I thought Charity was trying to get either Faith’s boyfriend or the guy she finally married. It seemed she wanted whichever one that Faith wanted. But I was one of the two good guys that Charity did not get. Of the sisters I’d marry Faith and of them all, I’d select Emma. Charity did get better but it takes an almost ten year period of adjustment.

I’m surprised you picked Charity as your alter ego. I would have picked Kate for you. (She’s the one that went to law school right? That’s the heroine I mean.)

BTW: The author is not the only one who needs a synopsis. The reader could use one too! After the fact, that is, to keep the memories straight.


P.S. So, it seems, you may be a ‘stealth plotter’. It took Walt to uncover the truth. The workshop is now complete. : )

Barbara Thompson said...

I enjoyed reading about pantser and plotting. I love reading all the author's great books. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the giveaway, so please enter my name.
Barbara Thompson

Chill N said...

In case anyone checks back this late :-) thank you for a delightful two days, VINCE. Finding out how others write, what works for them and why, has been 'mind expanding.' Oh, and thanks for the pdf at the Seekerville site. It'll be fun to share with friends.

All the best,
Nancy C