My name is Melanie and I’m a pantser.

Def: Pantser (n) someone who writes by the seat of their pants. Whatever comes to mind goes on to the page.

vs. Plotter – self-explanatory.

I am a pantser. I have come to terms with this and am learning to fix any of the plot holes, etc. in the editing process. Why does this matter? Well, it is NaNo season and there is some furious writing going on. I decided to work off of an outline I did in one of my masters classes. I really liked the story and decided it would be the one I did this year. NaNo’s goal is to reach 50,000 words. My goal is to reach 70,000 by the end of November. Not sure if I’ll get that high or not, but I’m making a valiant effort.

Why admit to being a pantser? Because so many people talk about how much they’ve outlined and researched before November 1st. I was like, Yeah, that’s me this year! Then, at 11:45 pm on Day 5 my story was hijacked. By the antagonist. He let me know, in no uncertain terms, that he did not like the direction his story was going and that I was not going to write him out of the picture and let his girl be gotten by anyone other than him. Grrrr. So, all that outlining I did just grew wings and flew itself out the window. So the novel that started out as a “Plotter” has turned into, you guessed it, a “Pantser”.

And I knew this would happen. I knew on Day 1. The outline has proven useful in exactly ONE way. I don’t have to come up with character names on the fly. I researched names typical to the area of my story and they seem to be working out so far for me. (We’ll see if that remains the case)

One thing I have learned through reading others’ posts through the NaNo boards is this has happened to other plotters. Being a natural pantser, I didn’t freak out too bad. But the plotters? I hope they can come to terms with their story being hijacked. I’ve been cheerleading for them, hoping to keep them on track. December is for editing! Just keep writing.

I wanted to share this last thing with you. I’ve been participating in a few of the word sprints on Twitter. I LOVE THEM. Yes, love, in all caps. Why? I wrote 1200 words in 40 minutes, that’s why. It is a let your hair down, let the fingers fly on the keyboard type of moment. It’s quite possible that these sprints are partly responsible for changing the direction of the story. But I’m okay with that. Obviously the outline I had wasn’t what was best for the overall story.  Here’s an inspiring poem sent by one of the sprint facilitators @Labville.

“Remember, remember for all of November, To write with whatever you’ve got. Your brain has the ammo for sprinting words NaNo, so trust in yourself and fear not!”

Keep chugging, you WriMos. Don’t let the dreaded Week Two get you down.


P.S. – I’ll let you know if the antagonist ended up getting his way (and the girl!).


7 thoughts on “My name is Melanie and I’m a pantser.

    1. Hey DJ! Didn’t know you were doing NaNo. I’ll be cheering for you and everyone else out there. We’ve still got over half of the month left. You’ll have to find me over there at the oh so creative name of melmacek ;). Good Luck!

  1. The writer’s eternal dilemma:
    The plight of the panster OR the plot of the planner?

    Those pesky note cards get lost, spilled on, or chewed up by the ___. (fill in your pet of choice)

    I’ll vote for opening my imagination up and letting my characters choose which synapses to connect. After all, it’s their story. I only get to write it down!

    Panster all the way!!
    Pattianne “Panster” Perry

  2. I love it when a character hijacks a story. The character always turns out more interesting than I could ever plan 🙂 I still like to have the key scenes “outlined” in a [character] wants [goal] because [motivation] but [conflict]. form. Then I hope the characters take over 🙂

    Have fun with your antag…or is he becoming the anti-hero of the piece?

    1. No, not an antihero. He’s hated by the MC in the beginning and generally reviled by the community. Turns out he has more substance. He was originally going to be one of two antagonists. You’re right tho, think this track is better than the original I had outlined.

      Good luck with your NaNo pursuit.

  3. You know, this is exactly what happened to me last year! I outlined it with all these nifty 3×5 cards (well, post-its) so I could change the order of scenes as needed. Unfortunately, 35,000 words into the story and I got inspired to go another direction, and it totally made the remaining cards worthless. It also stopped me dead in my tracks. Never wrote another word on it.

    But the story wanted to grow up a bit anyway, so rather than being MG it’s now YA. I thought about doing an outline for it this year. My brain absolutely refused.

    All right, then.

    As Harry helped me to embrace my inner geek, NaNo has been effective in helping me embrace my inner panster.

    Can’t wait to read your book!

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