Sunday, June 9, 2013

Planned Pantsing

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up someplace else.” I believe that’s the way it goes – from Yogi Berra.

This is a question so often asked, “Do you outline and plan your story carefully or do you just write and hope it all comes out well?”

Bob (spouse) and I write in totally different ways. I thought I was a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants), and that he planned carefully. He believes I sit down and magically create stories and characters and almost had me believing it is that easy.

He is right in one aspect. I dream up characters, describe them on paper, put two or three in a room in my mind and let them have at it. Eventually a story evolves and I begin writing. He describes his method as ‘knowing the overall journey, but letting the characters plan the route.’ His characters argue their direction on paper. He, of course, kills far more trees than I.

The first book I wrote, not yet published, Escape from Iran, I did over thirty years ago when I first returned from that country. I knew the story I wanted to tell, (plot) and then needed to develop a character to fit the story. As I was taking the Children’s Literature Course at the time, I created a YA novel. I submitted it for public review to a competition two years ago and it won second place in The Florida Writers Royal Palm Literary Awards. A carefully planned book.

The next book written to completion and edited, began as a NANO exercise—write an entire novel in the month of November, hence National Novel Writing Month—a  completely unplanned exercise. I wrote my fifty-thousand words, won a certificate for the achievement, edited the story and submitted it to the Royal Palm Literary Competition. It won first place for humor, even though it is a humorous thriller, then found a home with Champagne Books as my first published novel. (The Prince of Keegan Bay.)

Both methods appear to be successful, but did I really did not outline a plan for the second book? How could all those old people and the young couple perform in a logical sequence of events, tripping over themselves much of the time, yet come together for a Keystone Cops ending without any plan?
Don’t ask me.

Veronica (Ronnie) H. Hart is working on two novels at the moment, a sequel to The Prince of Keegan Bay, and a futuristic look at America, Silent Autumn (set in 2179.) Both novels are a combination of planning and pantsing. 


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Sometimes the story dictates the method of execution. You can take that any way you like.

Big Mike said...

I collaborated with two ladies. Merge a pantser and a planner and boy oh boy do the sparks fly (g).

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)