This week marks 1 year since I hosted the first #Storycraft chat! As I explained in a thank you post I wrote for the #storycraft community, a chat like #storycraft, which has no commercial connections or funding, only works because the people who comprise its community are genuine in their desire to learn and are generous in sharing their own experience. It has been a wonderful experience and I pray that Thai internet will allow me to keep hosting #storycraft after we move in late August.
Today’s #Storycraft topic was: to plot or not to plot? In case that seems odd to you, let me explain. There are writers who outline and/or write treatments or in various ways work out at least the basic skeleton of their piece before they begin their first draft, and there are those who just sit down and write “pantster” style – by the seat of their pants – with no outline or plan. Some writers identify strongly with one position or another and so love to discuss the question.
Personally, I’ve always been of the opinion that the the majority of writers use hybrid processes: writing a little, pantster-like, to explore characters, scenes and possibilities, then outlining (in one of the myriad ways available) then back to a little writing to explore more and see it all that as pre-planning (that’s certainly what I do.) I’m also pretty sure that most who call themselves pantsers do plot, if only in their head, or address structural issues in later drafts and, certainly several writers I know who call themselves pantsters also say they have notebooks filled with character notes and pictures of locations etc.… so I suspect that it may come down to a matter of definitions, any way.
My hope with this chat was that each ‘type’ could learn from the other because everyone needs to do what works for their story, my fear was that it would get heated, as it has done when it has come up tangentially in other chats. My experience, so far, is that many pantsters consider any talk about outlining as putting their method down and do get quite defensive, but sometimes it’s fair enough because, to those who do pre-plan at all, the ‘pantster’ method does sound kind of slap dash and un-polished (especially when the hard-core pantsters even say they refuse to edit.) Luckily, we had none of that heat, today; everything was very civilized and there was lots of great discussion on different methods of pre-planning/plotting/outlining.
If you’re interested in reading the transcript of our Anniversary #Storycraft chat, you can find it here.