Friday, 29 March 2013

Pantsing - the journey of my WIP

At the end of last year, around bloggyland, there was a lot of discussion about plotting versus pantsing; every award/meme contained a question about it. People fall into one camp or the other... and I'm a definitely pantser. The following story of my WIP will make fellow pantsers glad they're not me, and give plotters a good laugh.

In November I wrote a novel for NaNoWriMo. It came in at 150 words over the goal, and I was amazed I'd got so far. I'd been completely ready for a fail.

The aim was to rewrite it over the winter, read and edit and redraft over the spring, and submit by late summer. Yeah, right! Luckily, winter is dragging on so I'm still within my goal, but I'm still firmly in first draft mode because I keep changing my mind over the story I'm telling.

The novel starts with an explosion at a hotel which kills a couple of people. The subsequent stories were interwoven and the characters falling over each other - that was the original way it was written. When that got tough, I sieved out the individual stories, starting each one at the same moment in time - in this case, one week after the explosion and then looking back over the past week.

The trouble with this draft was that one week wasn't enough to tell the story, and I found myself writing in future tense. I thought hey this is wacky and experimental and literary - this is definitely my Booker winner. But, reader, it wasn't easy. Maybe if I'd only been going a couple of days into the future I could have pulled it off, but the original story covered the whole year after the explosion not just the week.

Last night, as I was lulling myself into a restful sleep, I had another idea...

Short stories!

You weren't expecting that, were you? Oh, you were...

Anyway, it doesn't change the main premise of each of the stories I want to tell, but they are now not dependent on a rigid timeline, they will work in isolation without consideration of the other characters. One story is now free to cover the year, while another will take just a few days. I don't have to rush my coma patient into recovery, he can wallow in his subconscious for as long as he needs to.

Am I happy with this decision? Yes, I am... for now!

28 comments:

  1. Hi from one pantser to another. I wish I was more organized actually because I keep writing myself down a dead-end and having to scrabble out of it (OK, plotters, now you can have a good laugh). I'll be watching your short story developments with great interest - good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There can be so many dead-ends if you're not very careful - but sometimes the fun of getting words down on the page means you're not very careful at all - but it's fun :-)

      Delete
  2. Glad you found a way to make it work for you! I'm definitely a planner and outliner and would've been in panic mode with that situation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not a panic situation Alex, it's a little voice in my head saying 'You can do so much better than this!' I could probably stick to my original idea, but the book would be the same as half the books out there, and I definitely want to make a BANG!

      Delete
  3. Brilliant! This is what it's all about - flexibility and an open mind! I hope I get to read this one day! (Need another Beta reader?!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda, I'll definitely bear you in mind when the WIP is finished! Thanks :-)

      Delete
  4. Perhaps writing the short stories will help you turn them into a cohesive novel afterwards, too. I totally think you can have your cake and eat it, too. Plus, a lot of authors sell short stories from their book's "world" and also sell the novel and each makes the other more popular. Pantsers rule!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At the moment, I still don't have a fixed idea of how this is going to look when I finish!

      Delete
  5. I am panster too. Not always the easy option but for me it seems to be the way I work best. Strange really because in every other area of my life I like to be organised and plan things. Must just be the creative side of me I guess!

    Glad you have found a way through your dilema. I think it sounds like a great idea. Keep us posted!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's interesting that you're a planner in real life - you're definitely in touch with the creative side of your brain at the right time!

      Delete
  6. Very innovative. Funny how these ideas occur just as the mind is resting and easing into sleep. Maybe we finally let go of all the chewing on ideas and "planning" we do, even if it's not formal planning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I often fall asleep with my WIP running around my head - sometimes it gives me the answer, sometimes it doesn't!

      Delete
  7. I 'pantsed' my first NaNo novel and won...I tried it the next year and didn't make it, for a variety of reasons. Your short story idea sounds like a great one and best of luck to you with it :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My plan was to do NaNo again this year, but I have a feeling I'll still be deep in this one!

      Delete
  8. You know, I sort of enjoy both styles of writing. Pantsing is fun, but plotting can be fun too. And I absolutely love when inspiration strikes and it solves problems! (and yeah, I won't talk about how we barely got a winter this year and all the trees are already full of blossoms; and the wind is heavy with the smell of daffodils #teasing)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our trees had blossom, but it got blown and rained off very quickly :-(

      Delete
  9. Poor coma patient!

    Short stories that all tie to one main event is a great idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It gets worse for the coma patient when he wakes up though, so it's probably best for him he stays there for as long as possible :-)

      Delete
  10. glad to hear you found a solution. and it seems to be a good one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a good solution for this week, who knows if it will change again :-)

      Delete
  11. I have an ms that I keep going back to and changing the main character.it's driving me so crazy that I haven't looked at it for a while. Love that you thought of a solution in bed. Best place for getting ideas I always find!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you find a solution soon - I'm sure it will come to you when you least expect it. Time for a nap, maybe? :-)

      Delete
  12. That's a great idea! Oh the fun of being a pantser. I try to regulate the lengths of my stories, but pantsing surprises you a lot. Have a wonderful weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surprises are good, both as a writer and a reader!

      Delete
  13. I've turned into a hybrid -- some plotting then mostly pantsing. Glad you found happiness

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love to be able to plot a little more than I do, but I never ever stick to it. You seem to have found a great balance.

      Delete
  14. Yes I think it is a good idea. I am much more drawn to shorter fiction for it satisfies my need to face a complete project. I wish you good luck and lots of inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I figured out that the shorter my story is, the more likely the characters are to die. When it was a novel, they were all alive at the end. Now I'm breaking them into short stories, they've started dying...

      Delete

Please comment - I love a good chat!