Good Reading : October 2016
Until I attended my first novel-wr iting course, I had never heard the word ‘pantser’. For those who don’t know, a pantser writes a short story or novel without a preconceived plot. It’s someone who ‘flies by the seat of their pants’ dur ing the writing process. A plotter, on the other hand, plans and plots their story – to a greater or lesser extent – before they start wr iting.When they write the first draft, a plotter will know how the inciting incident will set the action in motion and will have thought through the peaks and troughs, as well as conflicts and resolutions that will lead to the climax. As a jour nalist for whom being organised is vital, I initially assumed I would be a plotter. I like to be in control of what I write, when I write it. I soon realised that having accumulated a long list of scene ideas for my first novel didn’t mean I knew how to arrange them into a structured narrative, with all the elements to maintain reader interest from beginning to end. Those scene ideas meant I wasn’t a complete pantser, but they weren’t enough to convince me that I knew what I was doing with my story. AsIamwonttodowhen unsure about undertaking a task, I signed up for a workshop – Plotting: Using the Eight-Point Story Arc with author Annabel Smith. During the three-hour workshop I had a eureka moment that is now helping me to plot and plan my story, and giving me confidence that I have some idea where it’s going and how to get there. By working through Annabel’s logical, clearly articulated process, I discovered possible ways to get from A to B to C and, ultimately, to Z. I also learned that one of the most important aspects of plotting is to know that if you find yourself taking a detour from your planned narrative path, there’s nothing to stop you updating and, hopefully, improving your plot. There is definitely room to be flexible and creative and organised as a plotter or a pantser. For more about Annabel Smith, see annabelsmith.com. WRITER’S LIFE g g g g Thene ophyte no velist This month, aspiring novelist MAUREEN EPPEN ponders whether she’s a plotter or a pantser when it comes to writing stories.