Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Game's Afoot

Last week I despaired of participating in the annual NaNoWriMo debacle, wherein writers are forced to face the limits to their physical and mental capabilities by attempting to write a minimum of fifty thousand words in a single month.  To understand how daunting this is you must know that I am a deliberating short story writer who plans every step while trying to define the shape and size of a story at the outset before deliberately filling the empty pages with words, words, words, I thought the idea of attempting, e.g planning, something so long as a foolish venture.

[Flashback] At this year's CapClave Jamie Todd Rubin and I presented two approaches to writing.  My approach consisted of plans and careful plotting while Jamie's Pantser approach was flying by the seat of his pants.  Although there was a certain similarity in the tools we used, the philosophical approaches we chose were quite apart.[/ Flashback]

Frustrated (as usual) by my incomplete novels, the recent impossible demands for editorial revisions ("... but not just now, please") and having made yet another contribution to the collaboration, I decided to throw caution to the wind and just let the words come out as they would.  Perhaps that would clear the mind and allow me to find out what this "pantser" crap was all about while climbing the NaNoWriMo mountain to see how far it might take me. If nothing else it would give me an excuse not to actually work at writing something "good."

I was already three days behind when I made this decision so my hopes were not high that I could eke out more than a page or two - three at the outside - with nothing more than a skimpy outline of a thirty-five scene progression I'd put together years ago when my dreams were larger than my talent. I had no idea of plot, of setting, or background as I read the first scene, which was, in its entirety: "Introduce the characters and give them a purpose."

Thus I began writing a rollicking fantasy quest that soon seemed to be taking place on a distant planet and with steam technology, alien ruins, and ...  I really don't know what comes next because the rest of the progression is replete with non-specific titles e.g. "First conflict" or "New character introduced."  Within two days I'd caught up to the demanding word count and, much to my surprise, was actually having fun as the story told itself to me without forethought.

Which makes me ask myself; have I been a closet pantser all this time?



  1. I am really looking forward to the December 1 post on this...

  2. BTW, this post has been haunting me all day, as I fear this potential insight may apply to me as well. And, come to think of it, it would be SO consistent with my DiSC score (I'm a D who thinks he's a C, hence my use of the word "fear").

  3. Yeah, these sudden insights can be quite disturbing.


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