Tuesday, November 10

Stuck in the Mud

I'm stuck.

I'm a pantster. I'm not sure I spell that right...it might be pantser. Either way, I write by the seat of my pants, by wherever the story takes me. Hate to plot. Bleh. Index cards? Please.

I've always written this way, and never had a major problem.

Until now.

A new story has been calling my name for months. I've refused to really even think about it, using it as a carrot to get through my last ms, that was dragging. But finally! The last story is done, time to start the new one.

I jumped in with both hands on the keyboard. I wrote the first chapter. I realized I hadn't done any research. Fortunately for me, I have a friend who lives in the Mid-East, and I have deluged her with questions. And my good friend/CP has been so patient and kind, reading and re-reading the new chapter while I work out the kinks.

But the truth is, I wouldn't have gone through all this if I had thought it through a bit more, done some research before I started putting words to paper. Will I change, become a plotter? Buy stock notecards and highlighters?

Not likely.

But I might do a bit of research before I start wriiting another story, if it's one about something I'm not so familiar!


  1. yes, we pantzers always jump in where angels dare not tread. Try putting ideas down on posti notes they you can move them around. If you ever get someplace where Judi McCoy is doing her workshop on plotting with posti notes TAKE IT. It is well worth the time.

    Nancy O

  2. I absolutely hate research! That's the main reason I don't write anything that requires it. I don't think research changes you to a plotter. You're still writing by the seat of your pants, but making sure your facts are accurate.

  3. Oh, but you have to keep writing this book ... I love the hero and heroine already and it's different!

    I'm a hybrid - mostly pantster but I usually have some kind of loose outline to go by. Of course, that outline is usually unrecognizeable when I'm done...but it's still there in the beginning.

  4. Thanks, Obe, Shawn and Kristi!
    I hate research so much! I have another new story that requrires it, and I'm thinking dropping the story.

  5. I love to plot. I'm a plotting fool but I also like to fly by my pants so I compromise. In the end it makes life a bit easier if I see a distant future with a plausible end and it makes the synoposis easier to do. If I do plot it's vague and leaves much room to change.
    its whatever works!



  6. Yes, I'm seeing the writing on the wall! Ha!
    Some plotting might be valuable in the future. At least some research so I know where I'm going!
    Glad to see you here!

  7. D'Ann -

    Even though I plan some, you know it doesn't keep me from running into problems. Maybe in my next book, I won't plan at all - LOL. Not very likely, but maybe!

    You will get through these plotting problems. Promise.

  8. Definitely a pantser. Sometimes I'll do some research. Nothing intensive or is that extensive? Just enough to get me going again when stuck. And often, I just write scenes, whether they appear several pages ahead, in the middle, the end, whereever. Then I can cut and paste and it all becomes a jigsaw puzzle. Then thing you know, I've got a decent story.

  9. I'm a pantser...I admit it. But I learned the hard way too that if I don't at least get some facts and plot points straight, I end up all over the place and do alot more editing thatn I wanted. So, now I've started to be a 'panster with a very basic outline' lol..

    Says the girl into her THIRD rewrite of an MS for an editor...!


  10. Thanks, Kelsey, CJ, and CCastano!
    I think we all agree, pantsters! LOL! I just cannot see myself doing a lot of outlining, or using notecards or whatever.
    CJ, I don't do the scene patch thing, cause for me, it makes me so confused. But I keep it in mind, and use it when I get there!

  11. Doing research doesn't mean you're jumping the fence to become a plotter. They are 2 totally different things. You can still do research without feeling like you are cheating on your free and spontaneous creative side (although as a plotter, I don't know how you do it).

  12. I know, Christi! It's just as a pantster, that any kind of slowing down, research included, feels like I'm plotting. I hate it. It also sort of ruins the story for me if I know where I'm going at all.

  13. There are (at least) two distinct kinds of research: Research to get the facts straight and research for background. Seems to me there's no point to delaying writing just to look up some factual detail that can easily be fixed later. On the other hand, the other kind of research -- reading history books and contemporary newspapers and letters, traveling, looking at pictures -- can be a great font of ideas. Example: When Harry Turtledove was working on an alternate history about the Civil War, he wrote to the North Carolina Department of Archives and History and to his surprise got back a photocopy of a detailed regimental history written by a member of the regiment in question. He got tons of ideas and background details and wound up basing almost every character in the novel (The Guns of the South) on real people -- not just major historical figures but infantrymen and -women (I believe there were several of the latter) who would otherwise have been mere shadows in the past.