Pantsing vs. Planning
I’m trying something new with this latest book, namely “pantsing it.” In other words, I tossed my outline into the digital trashcan (or more accurately, skipping the outline process all together) and proceeded to let it rip (err … not my pants). The resulting book, Collapse (Cy Reed #5), is looking good so far.
On the bright side, I’m writing fast and with good scene-to-scene creativity. Collapse begins with a bang and doesn’t rest for the over 80 pages I’ve written. Mysteries deepen. Surprises abound. Danger piles upon danger. Hell, this might just be the best set of action-oriented scenes I’ve ever written. Even better, it hasn’t really felt like work. I could get used to this type of writing.
Two drawbacks, though. First, I’m writing loose. Side characters have gotten lost in the mix. Plot lines have been dropped. I’m not too worried … this happens to me when I’m writing with an outline as well. The second drawback should be obvious … I have no clue where I’m going next. I conceived of Collapse in a single afternoon as a four-part story. To start, I put Cy into a crazy situation and then raised the stakes repeatedly. Now, I’m nearing the end of Part I and I’m starting to get nervous. I have a setting for Part II and a basic idea about what happens in it. But it’s vague. And I have no clue what will happen in III and IV.
So, the jury is still out on pansting it. But the early results are promising. If I’m able to connect disparate story lines, deepen the characters, and enhance the themes over multiple drafts, pantsing could be a winner.
Ruins & Upcoming Releases
Collapse, you say? Whatever happened to Ruins? For those of you who don’t know, I started a new book right after getting back from Turkey. Tentatively titled, Ruins, it was to be my first attempt at a pantsing novel. Unfortunately, I gave into planning early on in Ruins and started trying to outline it. Since that defeated the whole purpose of the book, I immediately shelved it and came up with the idea for Collapse. I still plan on writing about Turkey, but it won’t be for a little while yet.
Miasma (Cy Reed #4) remains on the shelf. I hope to finish the first draft for Collapse in late October. After a little break, I’ll begin work on the Miasma edits. Miasma is my most complicated book yet and it’s also a bit of a mess, so it could take some time. I’m tentatively setting aside four months for edits, cover building, and formatting. If all goes well, you’ll be able to get your hands on it in mid-March 2015. Future stories, especially if this pantsing strategy works out, will hopefully be finished much quicker and with far less aggravation.
The method sounds good, especially to just get the story out and on paper. Sometimes it’s easier to just right out the main points then go back and put it in an order of some kind. Hopefully this works out for you and with some tweaks I’m sure it’ll be a great way to get your work out quicker. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!
Hey Seth! It sounds good, but a little hard for me to pull off so far. The odd thing is that I think I’m a natural pantser. But when I first started writing, I was overly influenced by advice from planners. So, now I’m making the transition, hoping it will help me take advantage of my strengths. Thanks!