A friend who is currently teaching script-writing asked me the other day if I use diagrams when plotting, or in any other way in my writing. It was an interesting question to be asked because I do, but not as a planner would. (Being a pure pantser, I don’t map stuff out at all before I write.)
Where I often find diagrams useful is in the process of editing a draft – particularly a scratch draft or a first draft – and I use them to examine logic. It might be that I know there’s a logic problem, or – as with PAR in recent weeks – I’ve got multiple sets of motivations feeding into movements and interactions, so I have to explore each set independently to check they hold up on their own and aren’t just serving the plot.
I also sometimes diagram to check how much time has passed over a sequence of chapters, as I lose track of how many days have gone by about as easily as my characters do!
Credit to my brain, it does a good job of getting logic and the passage of time right in the pantser chaos it prefers. I rarely find any big things wrong when I do my diagrams. They do, however, get me thinking about other things – probably because they get me looking at the story from different angles – and I find that interesting and often very valuable in itself.
Okay, with a work in progress nicknamed ‘the PAR’ it was inevitable I would make that joke some time… 🙂
But yes, it is running to form for a novel of mine right now. I’m so far into the story that I’m having trouble remembering what I did in earlier chapters! Which is usually the point at which I start to create a chapter map.
I’m not sure if it’s partly because I’m back to working in a straight word-processor for this, but in reality that can only be a contributing factor; all my novels have reached a stage where it’s too big to fit in my head. Of course, because of my pantser ways, I can never be entirely sure which version of a chapter/scene I ended up doing!
Side note on being a pantser: Apparently Lee Childs is one. This gives me a weird sense of… community. It’s a bit lonely out here on the pure-panter edge, as most of my writer peeps are either pure planners or planner-side-of-the-scale plantsers.
As you all know, I am an unashamed “pantser”. I rarely plan anything when it comes to writing and even when I do, it barely reaches as far as “plantsing” let alone what true planners do. Now, the pantser way is not for everyone, but I do get kind of excited when a writer friend decides to try it.
As such, I’ve loved watching my friend Natalie try this way of approaching a novel. It’s been interesting to hear her experience and see what has and hasn’t been similar for her.
I guess the main commonality is the speed in writing / heavy work in editing trade-off. That’s mostly my experience of pure pantsing too.
For me, because I lose interest in a story when I plan, there’s always going to be that heavy editing associated with pantsing. Still, I can deal with that because I can get a complete draft out so fast. Somehow that reduces my mental load of “half finished” novels, even though they’re only in a “scratch draft” state.
I’m yet to see anyone turn total pantser as a result of trying it, but it is very interesting take the leap without a planning safety line!
So, I’ve been doing something for a new project recently and it has involved actual planning. *gasp* Not planning on the scale that writers who are planners do, but a little bit. You know, bit of world and bit of structure.
Normally that stuff just goes on in my head, I suspect, and a less consciously. I mean I must, or when pantser-me puts pen to paper nothing coherent would come out.