Friday, May 2, 2008
Plotting as done by a "Panster"
There's a difference in writing styles recognized as 'plotters' and 'pantsers'. Plotters sit down with pencil and paper and figure out their characters, develop the storyline, identify who's going to be the protagonist, the antagonist, determine the conflict and sum up how everything is going to end. Then there are the 'pantsers,' named because they 'write by the seat of their pants.' I happen to be one of them.
My stories usually begin when a character pops into my head and starts dragging me, mentally, into a developing storyline. At the beginning, I have no idea who might join in the party, where we're headed and we're we'll end up. It's quite often frustrating, because when your muse takes a break and the character fades into the background, you aren't quite sure how to pick up the pieces and carry on.
I've tried plotting, but it doesn't work for me. I can't sketch out something before the main character jumps out and identifies his or herself. Usually a name comes first, then the characteristics...hair and eye color, body attributes, personality. Next, usually my heroine, starts whispering in my ear and telling me what's happening. My fingers become the tool through which she works as I plunk out words on the keyboard. I find it amazing to work this way, because at the same time I'm creating something, it feels as if someone is telling ME a story, and I can't wait to see how things play out.
I've recently started using 3x5 cards to note hair and eye color and important things I need to remember for each person, because when you have multiple characters, it's often hard to recall who has chocolate brown eyes and who has ones as blue as the sky. Nothing is more irritating than reading a story and having the character's eyes change from chapter to chapter. *lol* Of course, one could blame color contact lenses, I suppose. I used to have a memory, but sadly, I don't anymore.
I currently have three works-in-progress, and I can't stop the voices in my head. It doesn't mean I'm crazy, it just means there are more characters screaming to have me tell their stories. I was watching TV, when out of the blue, Odessa crept in and tugged me to an overturned wagon where he father was trapped somewhere between Tucson and Brisbee, Az. Last night, Clare visited and wants me to tell her story of love during World War II. She gave me a crick in my neck from constantly turning her head to check to see if the seams in her stockings were straight. She was so proud to have real ones, rather than having to paint a line on her leg.
So, I'm sure these are two stories yet to come, but I have to find a way to lock the door to my mind. There are far too many people roaming around, creating havoc, and I have to get Carrie and her prison story finished and submitted, Grace's amazing tale told, and Hope from Hope Springs Eternal is really getting ticked for sitting on the back burner.
Oy Vey! I need more fingers and less voices.