Here’s some pantser advice: suspenders!

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post with some pantser advice….

When I work with fiction writers I always begin by asking them whether they are planners or pantsers.

Planners are people who do outlines, who plan obsessively, who probably use 3×5 cards and who know every possible plot development well before they start to write about them.

Pantsers, on the other hand, loathe planning and feel that it deprives them of creativity and spontaneity. Many of them imagine their characters are speaking to them and directing the development of the story.

Either approach is perfectly fine and which one you use amounts to a matter of choice.

But in a post for the Fiction University blog, Orly Konig (@OrlyKonig) offers some useful advice for pantsers. I love the way she calls this advice suspenders!

Her four big tips are:

  1. Mindmapping: I’m completely onboard with this technique and you can see my many blog posts and videos on the topic here.
  2. Writing back-cover copy: This trick involves considering the story from a promotional point-of-view and writing a “sales pitch.”
  3. Story planning: Konig recommends using the software Plottr to do story graphing (which strikes me as way less restrictive than outlining.) But when I investigated the software I was disturbed to see how difficult it was to learn the price. The Plottr website did not present numbers transparently, even on its “pricing” page. A more detailed google search helped me discern that the price is basically $25/ year, which sounds reasonable to me. (Still, be transparent, people!)
  4. Story boarding: This technique — widely used in ad agencies —  was developed at Walt Disney during the early 1930s as a way to combine visuals with text. Because most novelists write their stories by scenes rather than chapters, storyboards are useful for plotting the story in a sequence of events and rearranging the scenes accordingly.

If you are by nature a pantster, see if any of these techniques can help give you just enough (but not too much) structure to help make the job of writing easier.

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