Thursday, July 7, 2011

How to be a Panster.

Pantser: A writer that writes by the seat of their pants, no pre planning.

How can some of us writers sit down and knock out a story in a short while, without any planing? Truth is, at least for me. There is planning, but not a lot of it.

I don't sit down and make reams of notes on my ideas. I don't use a time line (I will while I am writing). What I do is think about the idea a lot. And the building blocks for the idea are already in my mind.

A great example was with my Minstrels story. The spark started when I was playing the game Brutal Legend. In the game you can set up your radio to play songs you find over the course of your adventure. For Motorhead, the tune is We Are the Road Crew. That was and is my favorite tune for cruising around the landscape. Here is the first verse if you are not familiar.

Another town another place,
Another girl, another face,
Another truce, another race,
I'm eating junk, feeling bad,
Another night, I'm going mad,
My woman's leaving, I feel sad,
But I just love the life I lead,
Another beer is what I need,
Another gig my ears bleed,
We Are The Road Crew

I had that tune bouncing in my head for a few weeks.

At the same time, my husband and I have to dig out our old D & D stuff for our oldest to use in his game. We look over the maps and notes with nostalgia. All the fond memories are now jumping around in my head.

That song and those memories must have mixed up or something in my head. I woke up one morning and started to write. I pushed out over 3000 words. In that time I had the 4 principal characters, an idea of the major plot, and a goal for the ending.

The four main characters were never in my role-playing. They were new ideas. This is what I had at the end of the first day of writing.


  • Grail: Oldest, former military, piper, knows everyone of importance, unlikely ladies man.
  • Rand: He says "former thief", string player, charmer and fast talker too.
  • Drake: drummer, red hair, pyromaniac.
  • Carey: newest member, former priest (I ended up using the term seith), singer, something tragic just happened to him.

Main plot: They are going to a music competition. But something from Carey's past may stop them. Road trip/ buddy story.

Goal for the end: Have to pull together to stop the "baddie", not necessarily by playing music.

I did use our old world from role playing for the background. But I used an area we never did anything with, except name it.

Instead of plotting it all out before I wrote again. I let my inspiration guide me through my first draft. If it helps think of it as a long, detailed, outline. I have found out, that if I stop and plot out, think about it, make notes, before I write. It never gets written. OR in the case of the Coiree Guardians, waits TEN YEARS before it comes out.

I have to write when the idea is fresh in my mind. I make notes as I go along, I make a timeline, I do research on the fly. When I am done with the first draft. I put it away. I don't look at it or the notes for at least a month. Then I read through it again. This is where I clean up the false starts, work on the characters. My first edit is like some writers first draft.

The draw back to being a panster writer, a lot of editing. I go through at least four rounds before I am happy with sending it to an editor, or even a beta reader. But I would rather re-edit a story many times, then work on it for a longer time before I write it.

Being a pantser writer allows me to get the ideas out of my mind faster. I know what I first produce is not good. But I don't mind working with it, to bring out the real gem underneath.

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