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Thread: Planning vs Pantsing

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by T.S.Bowman
    The way I see it, if I sit down and take the time to write out an outline and ask myself "What would my character do if...", only to have the character do something completely different, then the time I spent writing that "guide" was time wasted. That wasted time would have been much more effectively used in actually writing the story itself.
    I do believe there's a learning curve that comes with outlining. A lot of my early outlines were rigid, clumsy, or just plain bad. I'd find myself deviating from them because the story, as planned, began to make less sense the further I wrote into it.

    But that wasn't a fault of the process of outlining—that was a result of my inexperience with outlining.

    I deviated from my outlines because my outlining abilities were poor.

    The better and more experienced I got with outlining, the less I found myself deviating from them. Now I'm in the final stages of a novel that I plotted from opening scene to final scene, with everything written as planned.

    Like most things, outlining is a skill that can be learned and honed. Sometimes I feel that pants-ers may be missing out on the benefits of it because they simply haven't taken the time to learn and practice their outlining skills.

    But, I can understand how some may not wish to learn it. Why should they, if pants-ing works for them?

    In the end, as much as I believe in the benefits of outlining, I also believe that what works for the individual should trump everything. If pants-ing works for you, then by all means, pants away! Some of the most successful authors in the world swear by it, so it definitely has its merits.

    I just want to point out that I, too, was in the "I can't help deviating from my outlines!" place at one point, but that went away the more experienced I got with the process.

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by KyleColorado View Post
    The better and more experienced I got with outlining, the less I found myself deviating from them. Now I'm in the final stages of a novel that I plotted from opening scene to final scene, with everything written as planned.
    But there's still the question of "If I'm going to spend all this time on the outline, why not spend it just writing the story itself?". And that's the place a lot of "pantsers" are coming from. That, and when the outline is done, we're faced with what I consider just a massive rewrite (from outline to full story).

    Quote Originally Posted by KyleColorado View Post
    Like most things, outlining is a skill that can be learned and honed. Sometimes I feel that pants-ers may be missing out on the benefits of it because they simply haven't taken the time to learn and practice their outlining skills.
    I learned and practiced outlining in school. Years of it. And I was very good at it. For nonfiction, I would definitely find it useful. For fiction - it's done nothing but bog me down and made the actual writing of the story a chore. So no, it's not a matter of we just aren't doing it right - it's a matter of it just doesn't work for us.
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  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by shadowwalker View Post
    But there's still the question of "If I'm going to spend all this time on the outline, why not spend it just writing the story itself?". And that's the place a lot of "pantsers" are coming from. That, and when the outline is done, we're faced with what I consider just a massive rewrite (from outline to full story).
    My issue in this ballpark is the rewrite part. I have a hard time motivating myself to writing more when I already know how things turn out for the characters. I'm a daydreamer, and that's where I find my stories exist. If I write an outline, the daydreaming then gets in the way of the writing because I'm letting my mind play it back in my head over and over again. If I leave the story open ended, I can't sate my brain's lust without writing it to fruition. My daydreaming demands an ending to the stories that exist there. If I give it one, the drive fades into the realm of procrastination. "Oh, I already know what I'm going to do with that, no need to worry about it now..."

    And then, I lose.
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  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by shadowwalker
    But there's still the question of "If I'm going to spend all this time on the outline, why not spend it just writing the story itself?". And that's the place a lot of "pantsers" are coming from.
    I think that question can be answered from a specific perspective. From the plotters perspective, a question would be, "Why spend all this time writing a story if there's a chance of it being poorly-constructed and/or poorly-conceived?" With the length of time some works can take (months, even years in some cases), it makes sense (to me) to make sure I'm going to be investing my time in a viable end-product.

    The same way a construction company wants to see blueprints and know material and labor costs before investing in a project, I want to know what I'm getting into and what the details will be before I dive into it.

    Without an outline, there's a possibility I may waste a huge amount of time on a big, jumbled nothing.

    Others, like yourself, may very well be skilled at crafting a solid story as they move along. This is the beauty of pants-ing, in my opinion, the way a solid piece of work can grow, organically, as the writer progresses.

    I don't have that ability, though. Without a blueprint, my stories tend to be poor. Hence my need for outlining. With a blueprint, my stories tend to be well-rounded and well-crafted. Hence my pride in outlining.

    Quote Originally Posted by shadowwalker
    I learned and practiced outlining in school. Years of it. And I was very good at it. For nonfiction, I would definitely find it useful. For fiction - it's done nothing but bog me down and made the actual writing of the story a chore. So no, it's not a matter of we just aren't doing it right - it's a matter of it just doesn't work for us.
    Right. Whatever works and feels most comfortable for the individual. I completely agree.

    I have no intention of pushing outlining on others. I'm simply pointing out that, from my own experience, outlining is a skill that can be learned and refined, if one wishes to pursue it.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowwalker View Post
    But there's still the question of "If I'm going to spend all this time on the outline, why not spend it just writing the story itself?". And that's the place a lot of "pantsers" are coming from. That, and when the outline is done, we're faced with what I consider just a massive rewrite (from outline to full story).
    I guess that makes me a "pantser" also. I feel if I know enough to outline then I do not need one. Then there is the fact I hav a 243thousand word, and more, story. Because I did not have a guide to keep me bound. Or am I mistaking and it would have gone on anyway?

    I learned and practiced outlining in school. Years of it. And I was very good at it. For nonfiction, I would definitely find it useful. For fiction - it's done nothing but bog me down and made the actual writing of the story a chore. So no, it's not a matter of we just aren't doing it right - it's a matter of it just doesn't work for us.
    My teachers tried to get me to outline book-reports and my short stories I attempted. "Your error was in not outlining." They would say. Aaaargh I could never get them to understand me. I doubt I will ever figure it out.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by KyleColorado View Post
    I think that question can be answered from a specific perspective. From the plotters perspective, a question would be, "Why spend all this time writing a story if there's a chance of it being poorly-constructed and/or poorly-conceived?" With the length of time some works can take (months, even years in some cases), it makes sense (to me) to make sure I'm going to be investing my time in a viable end-product.
    Once more the notion that non-outlined novels are often poorly constructed (no hyphen required, by the way, as the preceding word is an adverb) and poorly conceived rears its ugly head. You do not become a bad writer because you refrain from outlining something. To infer that I (and other pantsers) am not investing my time in a viable end product because I don't plan is a rather ignorant statement that makes me realise just how much cluelessness abounds on the topic of pantsing.
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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bishop View Post
    My issue in this ballpark is the rewrite part. I have a hard time motivating myself to writing more when I already know how things turn out for the characters. I'm a daydreamer, and that's where I find my stories exist. If I write an outline, the daydreaming then gets in the way of the writing because I'm letting my mind play it back in my head over and over again. If I leave the story open ended, I can't sate my brain's lust without writing it to fruition. My daydreaming demands an ending to the stories that exist there. If I give it one, the drive fades into the realm of procrastination. "Oh, I already know what I'm going to do with that, no need to worry about it now..."

    And then, I lose.
    See? There it is. I write as I run, (so to speak) Watching the trail as it meanders and winds itself about. My mind follows the trail of the story and I write it. If it goes left I cannot follow the trail right over the cliff-edge. If I knew the trail went left to begin with then why bother with following just explore. I do get the whole outline aspect. Try finding the major points of what you are thinking.

    Hmm. Let me try it with the next story I have been trying to work on. In "The Searcher" it is learned that Bagla went to outher worlds to find ideas for creation. One world he went to was near destruction. Before he was able to retrieve his children that he lost there it broke apart. He convinced some of the inhabitants to follow him to his home world before it did, amongst them was the creator of that world. The MC James noticed in the cave that housed the portholes, life on one of the chunks. His Job as the searcher is to find these missing children, The chunks have other survivors on them also, and they pose a challenge for James and the creator of that world.

    Now to outline all that and fit it into a viable story. With the creator repairing the world and James bringing Bagla his children, in the end.

    There I have the beginning and the end. How to fill in the rest? If I could figure out the main points to follow in between It would be great. I can almost hear my teacher saying, "What do you want them to do? How do you want them to do it? What are the challenges the other survivors pose?" Hmm, I... They... He... Well... I don't know for sure but yes I see the points. Just how to...

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    Once more the notion that non-outlined novels are often poorly constructed (no hyphen required, by the way, as the preceding word is an adverb) and poorly conceived rears its ugly head. You do not become a bad writer because you refrain from outlining something. To infer that I (and other pantsers) am not investing my time in a viable end product because I don't plan is a rather ignorant statement that makes me realise just how much cluelessness abounds on the topic of pantsing.
    All right I am clueless, I did not even know the term or that it existed, OR that I was in that category. I can see where an outline might help me keep some structure, but I believe I did well without it.

    I think my point is, If I can wrap my mind arround the story well enough to outline it, Then the outline is not necessary because I already have the story and should just write it.

    Oh damn I did it didn't I?

    "Just Write"

    LOL

    Thanks Sam.

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    Once more the notion that non-outlined novels are often poorly constructed (no hyphen required, by the way, as the preceding word is an adverb) and poorly conceived rears its ugly head. You do not become a bad writer because you refrain from outlining something. To infer that I (and other pantsers) am not investing my time in a viable end product because I don't plan is a rather ignorant statement that makes me realise just how much cluelessness abounds on the topic of pantsing.
    No need to get defensive, Sam. I didn't imply anything happening "often" in my statement. The comments were to highlight my own reasonings for why I would spend time outlining, as shadow's question asked.

    I don't mean that other writers risk creating poor stories from not onlining. But I do mean that I risk creating poor stories by not outlining. Actually, with me, the risk is so high it becomes a likelihood.

    My statements were about my own inabilities, not about the inabilities of others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam
    You do not become a bad writer because you refrain from outlining something.
    I certainly do (or believe I do), which was the point of my post.

  10. #20
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    At KyleColorado,

    As I stated my teachers were the outline type. I think a outline of sorts will help me but to figure out the defining points are not an easy thing for me. How do I get these if I do not know them yet? That is the same thing I asked my teachers.

    As I stated a few post back.

    Let me try it with the next story I have been trying to work on.

    BACKGROUND; In "The Searcher" it is learned that Bagla went to other worlds to find ideas for creation. One world he went to was near destruction. Before he was able to retrieve his children, that he lost there, it broke apart. Before it did he convinced some of the inhabitants to follow him to his home world, amongst them was the creator of that world. The MC James noticed in the cave that housed the portholes, life on one of the chunks.

    New story; The Broken Planet

    James' job as the searcher is to find these missing children. The chunks have other survivors on them also, and they pose a challenge for James and the creator of that world.

    Now to outline all that and fit it into a viable story. With the creator repairing the world and James bringing Bagla his children, in the end.

    There I have the beginning and the end. How to fill in the rest? If I could figure out the main points to follow in between, it would be great. I don't know for sure but yes I see the points. Just how to do it eludes me.

    I will try to place the ides for the story I have for now. I know this is some form of outline but I understand it should be more.

    I have a brief description of the events that led to the planets destruction. In this description we learn that the creator put too much of them selves into their creations and became lost amongst them. Only to discover that they returned to them self as the creations die. Sort of, there are great loopholes within.

    A paragraph that lets the reader know there are others on the chunks besides Bagla's children. One of these others believe they are the true creator. Not the one that Bagla rescued. Thus the difficulties fore mentioned.

    From there I pick up the story near the end of the first. Prepping James and the others that will accompany him on this quest.

    Then to end it with the creator of that world, repairing it and the relations with his creations. Also with the return of the ones lost there.

    There is a big gap to fill in between.

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