Saturday, March 4, 2023

Pantsers (Discovery Writers) NEED a Blueprint

 Pantser (Discovery Writer) — A writer has to face the blank page. It can be daunting. A bitter, cold winter storm, an empty white as far as the eye can see. Now, the outliner, feeling all warm and comfy has his or her outline to keep that empty white at bay. They pull it around them like a warm coat.

 But you can't outline. If you're wired a certain way, trying to force yourself to outline will just leave you frustrated and maybe worse, feeling defeated by the blank page, feeling like you will never be able to finish your novel. Because here is the thing: that blank page isn't just there the first day you start writing. It isn't just there at the beginning of your novel. It is there every day you push forward in your story. Every single morning you face it.

But here's what I'd like to advise— you need to think of a first draft as blueprint. You can't get hung up on trying to make your pages into the story you hope to write. Understand that for you (unlike the outliner) that first draft will go all over the place. Let it. Write down alternative possibilities in places. Force yourself to keep going.

My trick: I write a first draft in two weeks or less. I'll write bits and pieces of it but I won't be afraid to stop narrative flow and just write myself notes. X might happen here or Y might happen OR even--not sure what will happen here. 

This is important: what you are trying to do is discover your story, your characters, your world, in the first draft. It might be 20K or a bit more or less. Write it out from beginning to end, do it fast, don't let yourself get caught up in sentences too much. Try to, especially, get the story down.

Then in draft 2 you'll have a first draft that will be a kind of outline/ first draft combo—with dialogue and notes and scenes all mixed together. As a discovery writer (pantser if you prefer but I do not) you find your way in a first draft and it becomes a blueprint for the several drafts you will need to complete your novel. You can still write quickly and well. You just have to have a different approach if you're a discovery writer. 

This shift in thinking will make all the difference.

Good Writing!


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