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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Footprints Lead the Way

This week, I'm discussing the outcome of the goals I set for my writing for 2010. The first was to finish the rewrites of an old project. Success! The second was to dive into a new project. Sort of success... And the third was to outline said new project instead of writing by the seat of my pants. I wanted footprints to follow. On every other project, I winged it, and the amount of revision and rewriting has been overwhelming. Well, I'll call this a success. I did attempt to outline my current project. It's a very sketchy outline, but still an outline. I have narrowed down the major plot points and the character goals, motivation, and conflict, but everything in between is still up in the air. I decided I'm not much of an outliner. When I tried to plot chapter by chapter, I lost enthusiasm for the project and I felt lost rather than guided. There's nothing wrong with being a pantser, and there's nothing wrong with being a plotter. Is there anything wrong with being an in-betweener? I guess I'll find out in the coming months as I proceed with this project in that fashion. What about you? Do you plot, or do you wing it? Or are you an in-betweener like me?

30 comments:

jbchicoine said...

I'm sort of a plantser--a variation on in-betweener! I have the general outine in my head. I know how it starts out, where it will end, and the major milestones in between. I've tried to map it out on paper, but the most I end up with is a timeline to keep the plot tight. Anything beyond that and I get all jammed up and loose enthusiasm. I like watching some story elements develop all on thier own--that's where the excitement is for me and how I keep my momentum.

Jaime said...

I'm so with you as an in-betweener. I tend to plot out an overall outline but I'm not afraid for the characters to take a turn and freak me out :)

Wendy Paine Miller said...

In-betweener. I make guided notes and then let my characters run free.

They like their freedom. I won't rob them of that.
~ Wendy

Stephanie McGee said...

I'm a mix of both. I'll do a rough outline chapter-to-chapter of the major points that need to happen. But it's a fluid outline. I leave plenty of room for my story to grow organically.

Congrats on the success!

Paul Greci said...

I'm an inbetweener too. Sometimes it just depends on the story and how much of it I see in my mind before I start writing.

Melissa said...

Ummm, to be honest. I don't do either. When I get an idea, it comes to me fully formed. The story is just THERE. I have no better way to explain this....

jdcoughlin said...

I am a pantster to begin with. I have plotted first, but then felt the heart drop out of things, it and mine. Now I write then plot. After I've gone through things a few times, I do a more formal plot to set things right timeline wise. I find it works if I play to my strengths and not another writer's. No matter how successful.

MG Higgins said...

I appreciate your honesty with plotter issues. I feel the same way. Like medicine--it may be good for me, but I don't like taking it.

Laura Pauling said...

There's nothing wrong with being an inbetweener. But I'm not one. I do plan out almost scene by scene but there is so much room when I go to write to let my creativity rein. In fact, my writing is terrible without the confines of structure and an outline. I've tried. Can't do it. And I can't start writing because I'm too excited about where the story will go, so while that part of my brain is working, I plot out the whole story. We all work differently.

KC said...

I like to plot, but sometimes winging it is the best thing! I am trying to create an outline of a book i would like to write...this is my first experience at writing, so i think i will plot and see how it goes from there.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I am absolutely an in-betweener. I like to just write to get to know my characters and then by about chapter three I'm ready to outline a little to figure out where the story should go. The one time I tried to outline the whole book ahead of time, I had the same problem as you and the book never got finished.

Patti said...

I'm like you. I tried to plot my book chapter by chapter but wound up losing all interest in writing the book, but I do need to be a little more pantserish (is that a word?)

Sarah Laurence said...

Congratulations on meeting your writing goals! I’m somewhere in between too. I start with characters, settings and a loose summary of the main plot points in a couple of pages. After I have a chapter or two written, I outline by chapter in thirds as I write, but I don’t necessarily follow it. When my agent is ready to shop my MS, I write up a formal 2-page summary for her use only. This is usually quite different from my starting summary. Good luck with your next project.

Karen Peterson said...

I'm an in-betweener. I have an idea of where I want the plot to go. I have an idea of what the characters want. And then I sit down and write.

Diane J. said...

I start by winging it, then panic and begin to plot. I then get frustrated plot and begin to wing it again all the while feeling like a dope for not figuring out how to follow a plot. I guess that makes me an in-betweener.

Whoohoo, on meeting your 2010 goals (even those sort ofs count)!

Carol Riggs said...

I'm more of a plotter, but kinda loosely. So I guess that makes me an in-betweener but leaning more toward plotter. I don't like the restrictions of having every single detail outlined, because I like to feel the freedom of being able to find nice surprises along the way--things I couldn't ever have imagined by boringly plotting everything out ahead of time.

Yay for you completing your rewrites!

Melissa said...

I'm the half plotter/half pantser type. I need the major plot points and I have to know the characters' goals/motivations, but everything else I discover as I write.

Carolyn V. said...

Hey, I like that term, because I am right in the middle. I like to know where my story is going, so I outline. But I love the feeling of taking the story where ever I want, so I pants it in between scenes. =)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Ha ha! I'm a pantser working hard to become an in-betweener. Love that term!! :-)

Kathryn Magendie said...

I'm a "panster" but nothing wrong with being the kind of writer who does what feels right in their bones - :-D

strugglingwriter said...

I working my way to pseudo outlining. Good for you for the successes

Corey Schwartz said...

So interesting to hear about everyone's individual process. I can write a PB without an outline, but I don't think I could ever write a novel without one!

Diane said...

Well, yea for three kinda successes. Now was that so hard??? Keep up the awesome momentum! :O)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Just like you, I've been a pantser, but vowed to plot my next novel. I'm working on it, and I have to say my enthusiasm is higher the more I delved into different ways to plot. I haven't actually started yet, though, so we'll see how it goes. Good luck!

Stephanie Faris said...

Nope, I've always been a "wing it" type, which usually means lots of reworking during revisions. I just can't outline first. When I do, I find myself going in a completely different direction. What I DO do, though, is get halfway through and jot out notes to myself -- what to make sure I deal with, things that need closure, etc.

Amy DeTrempe said...

I am more panster than plotter. I have a general idea and may make some notes, but never a fleshed out outline. I tried that once and when I knew what was going to happen I lost all excitment. I like my characters to surprise me and uncover the story as they do and as a reader would. I do have an idea of what is going to happen about two chapters ahead of where I am at, but that is about all I know of the future of the story.

Heather Sunseri said...

I'm still kind of figuring things out. I'm trying to outline more with the current project, but I think I'm a lot like you. I'm ready to write and get to know the characters in order to develop enthusiasm for the project. It's okay to be an in-betweener.

Lily Robinson said...

In-betweener. I do a loose outline, framing the main points of the story to keep me heading to the right ending. I don't do a structure one because I prefer to let the characters lead the way. I agree it wouldn't be much fun to be so structured. I love discover what they're up to!

Stephen Tremp said...

I plot and wing it. Every day is different and I just go with it. By the end of the MS I have it pretty well together and just need to fill it out before sending it off to my editor.

Jade said...

Definitely an in-betweener. I basically wing-it, but I do make some notes as I go, mainly plot points I want to hit. I am in no way a plotter. I have tried it and we do not like each other.

Good luck with the new project!!!