Resolving to Recover from Pantster-itis

I’ve been a bad, bad girl.  I’ve been writting by the seat of my pants and, well, it hasn’t been pretty.  There is a lot of waffling between unbridled pantster-ism and half-a$$ plotting.  My plotting attempts definitely yield better results than the pantster-ing, but I have it stuck in the primal part of my brain that I need to be unfettered in my writing, therefore nattering merrily along.

This is the result of my writer’s misbehaving:

  1. Brain dump.
  2. Unfocused research.
  3. More brain dump.
  4. Chocolate.
  5. Staring at my computer screen.
  6. Attempting to connect my fingers and my brain.
  7. More staring.

All resulting in a lot of word ‘flu – vomit, fever, irritability and ickiness attaching itself to a page/file.

I’m going back to the basics. In Ronald B. Tobias’ classic,  20 MASTER PLOTS, the skeleton of storytelling is revealed.  From Forbidden Love to Rescue to Adventurer, the classic plots are spelled out and broken down (If you haven’t read it – DO SO NOW!) The plot is the framework by which I can build my story AND possibly surprise the reader not myself.

In Chuck Wendig’s post  ‘25 Ways to Plot, Plan and Prep Your Story‘ (READ THIS TOO!), he says:

I’m a panster at heart, plotter by necessity — and I always advocate learning how to plot and plan because inevitably someone on the business side of things is going to poke you with a pointy stick and say, “I want this.” Thus you will demonstrate your talent. Even so, in choosing to plot on your own, you aren’t limited to a single path. And so it is that we take a look at the myriad plotting techniques (“plotniques?”) you might use as Storyteller Extraordinaire to get the motherfucking job done. 

Getting back to my plotting roots will let me be a pantster with panache AND a better writer.

Who’da thunk it?

(PSA: for the plot challenged – Adopt a Plot Bunny)




  • That is one scary plot bunny.

    • I know, I’m thinking I’ll be devoting a post to plot bunnies and their ilk. 🙂

  • Leila, I suffer from the same problem!! I diligently (okay, not so diligently) plotted the beginning of my NaNoWriMo attempt. I then got too excited and figured, “Hey, I can just pants the rest!” I ended up with a 30,000 word mess and loads of discouragement.

    But it was a good lesson and I now know I need a lot more planning before I go throwing words down.

    • I think we should for ‘Pantster Anonymous’. 🙂

      I’m doing some reverse engineering on a story that has been stuck in purgatory. There is hope.

  • I think there may be an epidemic of pantster-itis… it seems to have spread to NZ too! Although thanks for the heads up on good plotting resources. I am in desperate need of a dose of good craft advice!

    • I do believe it is a pandemic. 😉

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