Saturday, May 9, 2015

Pantsing vs Plotting

I'm sharing this blog with Jamie Todd Rubin who will probably rebutt my descriptions from his blog.

We will start as storytellers are wont to do by reciting a bit of history about ourselves and this discussion.  It started in a bar at Capclave when we were talking about how to write short stories and realized that we approached drafting our stories somewhat differently.  To put it simply, Jamie writes by the seat of his pants --which is akin to running with scissors IMHO-- while I choose the wiser and more prudent course of carefully plotting my works.

Jamie throws words down at a prodigious rate, striving to produce a MINIMUM of one thousand words a day.  This would give him three hard SF books a year or one and a half fantasy novel were those 365,000 words useful.  Instead, due to his hasty and impetuous headlong dash to finish something he has to throw out most of his words, edit with a chainsaw, and rewriting practically everything.  From this I draw the conclusion that writing by the seat of your pants is wasteful of time and talent.

I, on the other hand, take a more deliberate route to a conclusion that I know before the first letter of the first word on the first page appears on my screen.  I know in advance the scenes necessary to reach a foregone conclusion and am able to sketch in characters, settings, and times for each.  The work of then forging the story around the various elements becomes an exercise in creativity and planning.  My first draft is usually poorly organized but I can easily rearrange or edit the scenes to convey the sense of story I intend.  Sadly, the ending I know with such certainty at the outset rarely survives the first draft and sometimes is even changed on the galleys.

But that's writing.


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