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Seat of the Pants - What if you don't like what comes out. (1 Viewer)

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Kimoco

Senior Member
I'm a seat of the pants writer, and it's worked for me pretty well in everything I've written so far.
I just finished the first draft of my first serious attempt at writing a novel, and my ending sucks. There is also a turn of events towards the end that I'm not so sure about.

How do you go about re-writing scenes when you are a seat of the pants writer?
Do you just try to think about a new way to do it?
Or do you sit in front of the page and just wait for a new plot twist to come out?

I am personally blocked and I keep editing the rest of the novel, but kindof just step over that part, until I figure out what to do.

Thanks for your help!
 

Steve_Rivers

Senior Member
I tend to do a bit of both, planning and pantsing, depending upon the length of the piece, so I know how you feel, Kim.

I think what helps me when I get to the point you're at, is to set myself a time limit. "If nothing comes to me within X days, then I start actively treating it like a planning solution." Because somedays, as you probably know, you'll just be doing something else and an idea will come to you.

So I leave myself some time to have something come to me, but if it doesn't come then you have to bite the bullet.
If you don't like the ending, look online for "twist ending" examples or "famous endings" to books or movies, to give yourself ideas. Actively seek out something you like or something that might spark your imagination again.

If you don't like a turn of events near the ending, then you've already made your mind up and you have to do something about it. It's all very well feeling like a pantser, but if sticking to that mantra then results in your never finishing your book, or worse, not liking a section and not fixing it, then it will only compound the problem.
When I get a section that I don't like, I will literally write a bullet point list of why I don't like it, to visualize its problems. Then I'll try and write an opposite bulletpoint list of what I would like it to do or be instead. That way, you're not totally planning anything, you're just giving yourself a loose framework to keep in the back of your mind when you rewrite it.

That's how I deal with that sort of problem, anyhoo.

The worst drawback of being a pantser is you run the risk of losing momentum by waiting for things to happen. It might never happen, so you have to be tough with yourself and set a limit.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
That's a good question I wish I knew the answer for. I want to learn how to pants a story. In order to dictate a story. But since it takes me forever to write description and narration, I always don't know how to talk fast enough. Some writers think dictation is a faster way of writing. I assume this will change with time. If I am able to describe and narrate faster, I should be able to do it.

Also, it is good advice to copy the ending of a story if you don't like your own. I once tried to give this advice some time ago. But we all have our artistic or creative license and so can choose how to end a story.

I will want to try a mix of planning and plotting once I read this book on plotting which was recommended by an online community for creative writing.


Supposedly this talks about plotting specifically anything that is fiction even though it is written for plays.
 
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Kimoco

Senior Member
I tend to do a bit of both, planning and pantsing, depending upon the length of the piece, so I know how you feel, Kim.

I think what helps me when I get to the point you're at, is to set myself a time limit. "If nothing comes to me within X days, then I start actively treating it like a planning solution." Because somedays, as you probably know, you'll just be doing something else and an idea will come to you.

So I leave myself some time to have something come to me, but if it doesn't come then you have to bite the bullet.
If you don't like the ending, look online for "twist ending" examples or "famous endings" to books or movies, to give yourself ideas. Actively seek out something you like or something that might spark your imagination again.

If you don't like a turn of events near the ending, then you've already made your mind up and you have to do something about it. It's all very well feeling like a pantser, but if sticking to that mantra then results in your never finishing your book, or worse, not liking a section and not fixing it, then it will only compound the problem.
When I get a section that I don't like, I will literally write a bullet point list of why I don't like it, to visualize its problems. Then I'll try and write an opposite bulletpoint list of what I would like it to do or be instead. That way, you're not totally planning anything, you're just giving yourself a loose framework to keep in the back of your mind when you rewrite it.

That's how I deal with that sort of problem, anyhoo.

The worst drawback of being a pantser is you run the risk of losing momentum by waiting for things to happen. It might never happen, so you have to be tough with yourself and set a limit.
Definitely setting a limit. And I refuse to start anything else that comes to mind or else I'll never finish it. I have about a million written ideas of everything, but if I start something new, then all the rest just goes to dead idea town. I love making lists, so I'm definitely going to take that as an idea out of the pit. I'll put in some planning to have a frame for sure also. And read other's endings! Thanks so much!
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
How do you go about re-writing scenes when you are a seat of the pants writer?
Do you just try to think about a new way to do it?
Or do you sit in front of the page and just wait for a new plot twist to come out?

I am personally blocked and I keep editing the rest of the novel, but kindof just step over that part, until I figure out what to do.

Thanks for your help!

This sounds odd, but: sometimes I find a change of perspective helps, especially if I need to edit it then and can't hang about for three weeks to pass. So I change my perspective. Literally. I go to some corner of the house that I rarely visit and curl up there. Or I go for a walk and consciously go somewhere I have never been, even if it's just nearby. The main thing is it must be something I have never done. Even if it's standing on my head or making a noise or speaking words I have never made; doing something different. The awkwardness of it, the unusualness of it, seems to free my mind up of blocks and something generally comes. Silly, but it works:)
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
The one thing I've battled, and no amount of practice can rectify, is this 'cementing' of ideas. What I mean is, once I've set the story in stone, I find it almost impossible to see it any other way. It's a bit like when you write the wrong word down in a crossword and even if you know it's the wrong word, your subconscious won't stop popping it up as an answer. I can move things around quite easily, but changing something entirely, I find a nightmare.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
This sounds odd, but: sometimes I find a change of perspective helps, especially if I need to edit it then and can't hang about for three weeks to pass. So I change my perspective. Literally. I go to some corner of the house that I rarely visit and curl up there. Or I go for a walk and consciously go somewhere I have never been, even if it's just nearby. The main thing is it must be something I have never done. Even if it's standing on my head or making a noise or speaking words I have never made; doing something different. The awkwardness of it, the unusualness of it, seems to free my mind up of blocks and something generally comes. Silly, but it works:)
Letting it rest is always considered good advice, or until you get feedback from someone you can trust (for example, someone not from your own family or a friend).

I am guilty of letting things rest until someone replies before sending it somewhere (but then my first few drafts can be messy). Doing something else is a good way to distract yourself from not looking at that work. Or you can always write another story.
 

Kimoco

Senior Member
This sounds odd, but: sometimes I find a change of perspective helps, especially if I need to edit it then and can't hang about for three weeks to pass. So I change my perspective. Literally. I go to some corner of the house that I rarely visit and curl up there. Or I go for a walk and consciously go somewhere I have never been, even if it's just nearby. The main thing is it must be something I have never done. Even if it's standing on my head or making a noise or speaking words I have never made; doing something different. The awkwardness of it, the unusualness of it, seems to free my mind up of blocks and something generally comes. Silly, but it works:)
This I do quite a lot, having children. My son made me test how fast I can count to 100 last week, turns out it took me 34 seconds. They make me do all kinds of weird things. I even did a side-wheel a couple of weeks ago, something I hadn't done in 28 years. And they speak unknown languages and make me participate. Fun stuff to change your mind, kids.
 

Kimoco

Senior Member
The one thing I've battled, and no amount of practice can rectify, is this 'cementing' of ideas. What I mean is, once I've set the story in stone, I find it almost impossible to see it any other way. It's a bit like when you write the wrong word down in a crossword and even if you know it's the wrong word, your subconscious won't stop popping it up as an answer. I can move things around quite easily, but changing something entirely, I find a nightmare.
I get that too, cemented ideas. For this specific story, I had a couple of events that needed to happen, pushing the story forward. My "main ideas of plot twists" were all in my head, and halfway through I decided to draft a sort of timeline to help me put it all together, but this particular twist came on its own, and it works, I'm just so unsure about it... I'll try to focus on re-writing that and the ending. I feel like the ending is rushed, but at the same time, I could go on forever, so I don't want to bore anyone. Anyways, still a lot of thinking to do. Thanks for your input!
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I had the same issue with the timeline, where I didn't figure it out until about 30K words. And then even at 70K words, I realized to make it realistic I needed to have a few time jumps. So perhaps I'm not the best to give advice. But I use such things as pegboards with colour-coded Post-its. Categories are things like settings, character, sub-character, events, setbacks, expectations, conflicts, outcomes...etc. Once I have them on the pegboard, I can see where the holes are. I also use Word doc charts setting out various plots and timelines and even Excel is great for organizing thoughts and working out ideas. I'm a bit of a panster too, but using some type of structure to experiment or nail things down works for me.
 
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vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
There is only one answer. You consider the story up to that point, you consider how you want it to end, and then you think and think and think about possibilities to fill the gap. When you finally think of something you can live with, you write it.

It doesn't matter if a writer is a pantser or a plotter, they both have to think, and think hard. The pantser has to do just as much thinking and planning, they simply do less of it before they start writing. I hit those roadblocks, too. Once I waited for 'inspiration'. It hardly ever worked. When I decided to tell inspiration to screw off and starting thinking more, I starting moving forward and fixing plot mistakes.
 
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Mark Twain't

Staff member
Board Moderator
As I was starting my 1st go at writing seriously, I thought I'd best do the plotting thing. Hated it, couldn't get anywhere so decided to become a pantster and that worked as I now have a 2nd draft.

If I'm honest, I can't say I don't like it but I don't exactly love it so I'll just keep plugging away at it until I do.

That said, I've got an idea for another novel so I may start thumping the keyboard with that for a while and then go back to the 1st one. Like many problems in life, the solution often presents itself when yoou stop thinking about it for a while.
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
I'm a seat of the pants writer, and it's worked for me pretty well in everything I've written so far.
I just finished the first draft of my first serious attempt at writing a novel, and my ending sucks. There is also a turn of events towards the end that I'm not so sure about.

How do you go about re-writing scenes when you are a seat of the pants writer?
Do you just try to think about a new way to do it?
Or do you sit in front of the page and just wait for a new plot twist to come out?

I am personally blocked and I keep editing the rest of the novel, but kindof just step over that part, until I figure out what to do.

Thanks for your help!
Hi,
there is no answer to this. No method. It will come to you, just make sure you have a notebook handy.
Good luck
BC
 

Sir-KP

Senior Member
I am personally blocked and I keep editing the rest of the novel, but kindof just step over that part, until I figure out what to do.
Depending on your situation. If you get chased by deadline, want it or not, you have to research from other stories and grab the concept(s) of the scene that you want.

If you're still writing at your leisure, then just leave it for now and let your ideas spin in your mind and eventually you'll get inspired by the things you see.
 

Gamer_2k4

WF Veterans
You can write by the seat of your pants and still have an idea of where you want the story to go. After all, if you don't know where it ends, why even start?

When Bob Ross paints something, he doesn't have everything measured out and outlined, with exact tree counts and mountain heights. But he does know the general composition - for example, the painting will be set in a wooded area, with a brook winding past an old house. Every brush stroke is guided by that end goal. Writing is the same. You can write freely, not knowing the details of a particular chapter until you're filling it out, but you still need some sort of end state in mind if you don't want to rewrite and rework endlessly afterward.
 

Kimoco

Senior Member
You can write by the seat of your pants and still have an idea of where you want the story to go. After all, if you don't know where it ends, why even start?

When Bob Ross paints something, he doesn't have everything measured out and outlined, with exact tree counts and mountain heights. But he does know the general composition - for example, the painting will be set in a wooded area, with a brook winding past an old house. Every brush stroke is guided by that end goal. Writing is the same. You can write freely, not knowing the details of a particular chapter until you're filling it out, but you still need some sort of end state in mind if you don't want to rewrite and rework endlessly afterward.
Indeed, and I love Bob too, so it's a great comparison. I have an artistic background, and I think the whole pantser thing comes from my hate of having to explain my artistic process. I do what I do because I do it. There was a meme I read that went sething like this, "When the teacher asks, why did the writer make the curtains blue in this scene? Their answers: To make the scenery gloomy, like the depths of the characters' heart? -My answer; because the fuxking curtains were blue." I know the ending of my story, it's a romance, so "...and they lived happily ever after." I'm just not sure where to stop. When they get engaged? After the wedding? When they have their first kid? Second, third?... Anyways, I revisited over the long week-end, and I like it better now. Thanks to all your suggestions!!
 

Kimoco

Senior Member
Depending on your situation. If you get chased by deadline, want it or not, you have to research from other stories and grab the concept(s) of the scene that you want.

If you're still writing at your leisure, then just leave it for now and let your ideas spin in your mind and eventually you'll get inspired by the things you see.
I have no deadline! I'm writing as a hobby/want to change my work life. So far I've written close to 50k words at between 2 to 5 hours a week of writing, in 2.5 months, and I'm at my second pass on my draft. I intend to do at least 4 before I show it to anyone. Maybe more haha. Thanks for your input!
 
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