Care to Pants?
5 things writers can benefit from when pantsing
A little while back I made an Avis thoughts post, linked here, detailing my thoughts about the whole plotter, pantsers, and plansters, phenomenon, and as I mentioned in the post I’m more of a plotter than panster. I prefer making a detailed outline before I write anything as opposed to pantsers who, for the most part, just jump into it.
However, sometimes I don’t strictly adhere to the outline I make and I prefer to just write and see where it takes me.
Now you may be thinking “okay, good for you but why bring it up?” Well, if you remember what I also said in that post I do worry a bit about new writers building the mindset they either have to stick to outlining or free writing. I want to emphasize that it’s okay to dabble with both writing styles including pantsing.
Which is why I now give you five things writers can benefit from when they pants or free-write.
When you pants you can:
1.) Discover new ideas
When you pants you’re free to experiment more with elements of your story and let them naturally develop as there’s less of a strict focus on connecting them to future events. This may allow you to come up with new concepts that weren’t in your original outline.
2.) Defeat writer’s block
Free-writing encourages you to think in a certain manner, such as, “where will this scene go, or how will it develop?” rather than “how will this fit what I have planned, or lead into this next scene.” This new perspective of your work can be helpful if you’re so used to following an outline format.
Things are no longer a linear road, you can branch out and create new paths that weren’t originally in your outline.
Writer’s block tends to be caused by the inability to think of how to proceed in your draft or think outside of the box, but if you focus on just writing instead of fretting about how your scenes will connect to your outline, there’s a chance you can shatter that block and gain new ideas in the process.
3.) Create natural dialogue and actions
Plotters or outliners tend to have the mindset of just reaching a goal, like a scene has to progress the plot or serve a major purpose. This is a good mindset to have, but when you closely adhere to it, there’s a chance you could glaze over some nice opportunities for rich dialogues or interactions because you feel you needed to stick to a script or outline.
Note: Don’t get me wrong, I think writers should be cautious of meandering plots, and I believe scenes should have some sort of purpose, what I’m saying here is that such a purpose it doesn’t have to be a strictly plot focused purpose. That purpose could be to flesh out a character or add some depth to previously established elements. The addition of a scene could possibly just serve the purpose of making the story just overall more enjoyable. (Now back to the post.)
For example, maybe while you were drafting your story you thought of a funny scene or a nice quip, but since it didn’t perfectly fit into your outline you decided to scrap it. Now I may get some flack for saying this, but not all your scenes have to directly serve a purpose to the plot. Though I do believe purpose should be a strived for, I think sprinkling an entertaining scene or two of unscripted banter or shenanigans could liven up your story, and I’m sure readers would appreciate it too.
4.) Invent new scenes
When you decide to stray from a set path and let scenes naturally unfold, your story can take you places you didn’t think of when you wrote the outline.
These new scenes could potentially improve your plot or liven up the story, these scenes could be an opportunity you may miss out on if you stick strictly to the outline.
5.) Make your writing smoother
Some plotters tend to struggle with transitions between scenes when adhering to outlines, this can lead to a “checklist feeling” of “okay I just finished scene A, now I gotta do scene B, then after that I gotta write scene C and so forth.” And not to freak out any new writers but this can lead to readers having a stronger inclination to rush ahead to plot points they sense are coming up, I mean why trudge through the filler when you can fast-forward to the next plot-heavy scene?
Alternatively, with pantsing there’s a stronger feeling of “I don’t know where this is going to go, or how the hero will get out of this tight bind.” This is because this kind of writing I believe leans towards being more authentic, authentic in the sense that the writer/pantser didn’t know how the hero was going to get out exactly going to escape or where the plot was exactly going to go because it wasn’t planned or outlined beforehand. Thus, helping to prevent skippable filler scenes in novels. Not to say that a plotter’s voice can’t be authentic, but I believe this element may come easier with pantsing.
I’d like to end by saying there are pros and cons to every writing style, wether it be pantsing, plantsing, and plotting, but the purpose of this post was simply to recommend writers to experiment more with free-writing. There’s no doubt that what I said doesn’t encapsulate the writing experience for every pantser, and I’d be open towards discussing writing processes or misconceptions you hear tossed around about certain writing styles. Heck, if you find a gripe with one of the points I’d also be open to discuss it civilly in the comments.
I truly do believe there is much to be gained by dabbling outside of your comfort zone, and if you don’t want to pants that’s fine. As said before I’m a plotter and I prefer to outline than free-write, but on occasion, I prefer the latter.
Thanks for reading, and until next time! 🙂
If you want to read more about plotting or outlining, which is kinda the opposite of pantsing, feel free to check out the post I made on the subject using this link.