Monday, November 9, 2009


I'm a pantzer. I've discussed this before. I write by the seat of my pants. I don't plan things out in advance. I don't outline. I, on occasion, allow myself to jot down ideas for a future project in blurb form, but I usually only glance at them once before I start writing, just to point myself in a vague direction of the idea.

That is not to say I have not tried to plot. I have. It just doesn't work for me. I've talked on my blog before about how I'm getting more and more plotter-ish, but I don't think it'll go any further than it has. I like the freedom and the thrill of pantzing too much.

In fact, during this year's NaNoWriMo, I set an all time pantzing record for myself. I came up with my idea for my current project approximately 10 hours before the event started.

I've noticed something funny this year though. Perhaps it's been going on for a while, but because I'm more involved with other Wrimos this year than I have been in the past I'm just now witnessing it, but I've seen a whole bunch of people trying to mess with their method. I've seen pantzers try to bang out and then stick to an outline. I've seen dedicated plotters pick up a shiny new idea and try to just run off with it with no direction in mind at all.

I applaud them for their bravery.

I fear for their sanity, even more than I do for every Wrimo's sanity. (And I fear for us all a great deal, trust me.)

But I wonder if they will make it. Will those panzters trying to plot get a few weeks (or possibly days) into November and then suddenly toss the outlines out the window and take the story off in a whole new direction? Will the plotters giving pantzing a shot break down and take a few writing days off to outline and world build and character sketch?

Or will the event reveal an ability they never knew they had? Will they come away from it able to write both ways from now on, like a right-handed person who breaks their arm and has to learn how to do everything with their left as a result?

NaNoWriMo has always felt to me like a pantzer's paradise, but I know plotters who swear by it too. It really is all about getting out of your own way and letting the words rule the day. I've often toyed with the idea of using NaNoWriMo to experiment with writing in a different genre than I usually do, but it has never occurred to me to try a whole different writing style.

What do you think? It's too late for me to try it this year, but is it something to keep in mind for next year? Or are these plotting pantzers and pantzing plotters even crazier than I am?

Also, are you one of the switchers? If so, how's it going for you? Has it made you nuts yet? Have you given up and reverted to your familiar form? Or is it working for you?


Sarah Templeton said...

Oh, I switched alright. It hurt. The first week had lots of words that had no direction, random scenes from all over the board.

Friday my muse went: "Woooooaaaaaaah. This rollercoaster is a bit too extreme for me." And at the top of the first hill, you know, when you first start hearing the "click-clack-click" of the coaster's chain, she spotted a maintenance worker and screamed at the top of her lungs: "Excuse me, Sir! Is there any way off this ride from here??!"

I hadn't even gotten to the BIG hill yet. The one where it feels like the coaster is coming off the tracks. What that means this weekend was a plotting weekend. Now, mind you, I only noted where scenes could be and the order in which they occur, so nothing so thorough as an 11k word outline or a full stack of notecards, but there were definite notecards in play. I've fallen right into place with the expected word count, losing my 2-day head start (1 day of which was lost to "hubby-appreciation-day" in the first place).

This week my muse and I will be finding our happy place and holding on for dear life with narrative summary, all the way. Please remind me when the camera approaches, I want to have a sweet action pose ready to go.

haricot vert said...

Sarah, darn you and your wordsmithing prowess. /shakes fist

I have pantzed, and I have plotted. This year I plotted and it's kind of going according to plan, except that I'm not using my delightfully filled notecards. I'm using the loose over arching outline that I drew on the back of one index card and am basically pantzing through the large holes.

I'm not sure why I'm not using the note cards that I painstakingly filled in and labeled with the different colors for each storyline...