I’m writing again, and it feels really good. 🙂
But I’m doing it a little differently this time. I’m working over my first three chapters multiple times before moving ahead, making sure that I have three things settled in my head:
- The thrust of the plot
- The interdynamics of the characters
- The major and minor details of the world
I always do this to some extent, but have never done so in such a thoughtful and deliberate way.
From Pantsing to Plotting
When I first started out as a writer, I was a total pantser. My overflowing “drawer” of what I now euphemistically call “starter stories” attests to this. I’d just sit down and start writing and would see where it went – which in most cases was about 5-15 pages and a sudden dead-end when I ran out of steam for my initial idea.
While I have rescued many of those stories from the drawer and have ultimately finished and sold them, I’ve still used a modified “pantser” method for my newer works, laying out a loose outline and then just writing.
It’s a fun way to do things, and keeps the writing fresh. But it can also lead to bloated plots, imprecise characterization, and a muddled storyline, and a tangled mess to sort out at the end.
So I’ve moved ever so slowly from pantsing to plotting, toward more preparation, more consideration, and more thoughtful matching of my characters.
This time, I’m taking another step – re-writing and refining my first three chapters three to four times before I move on to the rest of the book.
Will I continue this level of rewrites throughout the book? Probably not. I don’t like to be “stuck” in one place to long, and I recognize the real danger of overworkinh a story.
Do I think spending this time right now is worth it?
Absolutely. I can already feel the story streamlining and picking up in both pace and possibility.
I am also internalizing the characters and their traits, conflicts and connections, which should make them easier to write in the long run.
Will it improve my writing? Maybe. I’d argue that any time I stretch myself like this, my skills get better.
Ultimately, only my fans can tell me for sure. 🙂
For my writer friends, what balance do you strike between pantsing and plotting? And how much time do you take at the start of a new story? Give is some tips.