and Mystery, Crime Fiction Writer
Writing by the Seat of my Pantsers - It's time the redheaded stepchildren flouted the anti-rules!!
Writing by the Seat of my Pantsers by Meg Amor - published on BTS Reviews
Please help us welcome our guest author Meg Amor to the blog today.
Aloha pantsers, my fellow “redheaded stepchildren” of writing. I’ve decided it’s time to take a stand because the plotters make me feel like I’m being a wayward, naughty child when I won’t “be sensible” or plan things out. They see my writing by the seat of my pants style as shambolic and disorganized.
Plotters remind me of morning people.
If I never hear another person say, “It’s the best part of the day.” Or I’m woken at seven a.m., just as I’m drifting off to sleep with a surprised and slightly offended, “Are you asleep?” It won’t be too soon.
Like the night owl, the pantsers are largely misunderstood and considered slightly “abnormal” and “weird” to the day larks and plotters.
I’m in several writers’ groups and every day there’s some poor soul who writes in and says things like:
I don’t think I’ll ever be a real writer; I can’t seem to get into a routine or write in the mornings. Sometimes I don’t write for days on end. They’re two minutes away from slitting their wrists and I want to yell, STOP! You’re fine, you’re normal. And um, you do have a backup copy of the manuscript you just deleted from your computer, don’t you?
When I first started out as a writer, I read ALL the books on how to be a good writer. Because somewhere it probably has that on a rules list.
Do not attempt to even write one word until you have read every single book on being a writer. You won’t be eligible for your gold stars if you do.
When I read other people’s rules on being a writer, I came away feeling completely demoralized. I thought, I haven’t got a hope in hell of pulling this off. There’s no way I can follow all those rules. I really did want to be a writer, but obviously I was kidding myself. Bugger!
I let it set me back for a while, but eventually I got brave and just wrote anyway. I flouted convention, and discovered that regardless of the way I write, publishers still wanted to publish my work and the readers seemed to like me.
I want to give the pantsers PERMISSION to be themselves. No apologies, feeling silly, guilty or like rotten awful people because they didn’t do a three-page character analyze of every single character in their book.
The pantsers need a different view from the one they normally encounter. So please plotters, don’t send me death threats. The only thing that consoles me is that you’ll have to plan it out in detail—that should give me time to move somewhere else and go into the Witness Protection Program.
In the meantime, I want someone starting out to realize, you can write anything and be good at it, even if you never follow a single writer’s “rule.” And there are lots of them. Every famous writer has a list of what works—for them.
What worked for Ernest might not work for you.
Jack wrote out in the wilds of California. Ernest in piratesville Key West. John on the Monterey Coast. None of them sound alike. They were all unique in their own way. So are you.
Take advantage of that. It doesn’t make sense that we all follow the same path in the stories or styles we write, or the way we set up our workday.
The fact is: the plotters and pantser writers just do it differently and that’s okay. If I’d listened to the “experts,” I’d still be unpublished.
So, here are my pantser “anti-rules.” Feel free to COMPLETELY ignore them!
I don’t have set times I write.
I write with a half shot of Bacardi in a 700ml glass, a quarter filled with ice and overflowing with diet cola at hand.
I write at three in the morning or five at night.
I write in dribs and drabs.
I write some days and not others. I’ll percolate a wee fantasy I play over and over in my head until it’s perfect. Then I write it down while it’s running “hot.”
I never walk away from a hot scene. I write it down before it disappears.
I don’t care about spelling, my dreadful syntax or my New Zealand education, grammatical errors etc. I’ll edit later.
I don’t care that I’m slightly dyslexic. Sometimes odd words turn up in my manuscripts. I fix them later. I wrote the whole of one book, reading it (no kidding) at least two hundred times, and it was only on the read through out loud that I realized I’d put in clique instead of cliché. I laughed and laughed.
If I have a scene that’s delicious. I don’t wait to get to the juicy part. I start in the middle of it, then “backfill” it later. Adding in the texture or setting of the scene.
I write the end sometimes before I have the beginning.
I write random scenes, and dialogue. Cut and paste is my friend.
I make random notes to myself on yellow legal pads, which are all over the house. God help me if I ever had to ACTUALLY find a piece of info. But that’s okay. The notes say things like: “Kulani, surfer, abused? Orchid tattoo.” “Charlie, pocket watch? Very sexy.”
I research randomly, Hawaiian history, a phrase here, a fact there.
I edit when I feel like it. Editing is fun.
I let my characters and the Muses do what they want. I just take dictation and type like billy-o to get it all down. And I write more than one story at once if it’s there.
I write whole novels from one scene in my head, one sentence I hear, or one picture that grabs me.
And my editor does not want to kill me when I submit a manuscript.
So buy a good pair of ear plugs and blinders my wee redheaded writers and get typing.
Aloha Roman Antics, (I have borrowed this from my fellow countryman Russell Crowe. He used to have a band called this, in New Zealand. They were the Romantics, but he started calling them the Roman Antics and it stuck! So thanks Russell. Let me know if it's not okay. :-) ) I can always switch to the Roman Tics as well, but it might not give people the same warm feelings.
This morning I wrote a reply to fellow Muse It Up author Matthew Peters blog on our routine's as writers. I thought I'd be a lazy writer today and post it here as well. :-)Although, I HAD already written it—so I'm sure that counts for something!
When I first started really writing, I bought all the books. And then felt horribly intimidated by 'writers' routines. Oh God, I thought. I'll never manage that! They all seemed to write EVERY day AND they got up at the crack of dawn. I usually go to bed at the crack of dawn!
But after awhile, I realized it didn't matter. My style was my style. I write when I write. Last year, I wrote one short story, and 2 and 1/2 novels, so can't moan too much.
Also, it seems to depend what I'm writing. My first book was a self-help book and I had to hold a gun to my head to finish it.
My books I write now, I have to hold a gun to my head to make me go to bed and sleep. :-) They enthrall me. I get lost in them. I look up and it's been three hours or more.
I write whenever it grabs me. Sometimes I sit for days, going through a scenario or dialogue piece in my head. Then when it's right, I get on the computer and just type like billy-o, trying to get down what everyone is saying and doing. It seems to work quite well. When I can't write, I edit. I do edit every single day, because I can't stay away from it and love it.
I write best after midnight and often get a second wind about 6 or 7 in the morning. Sometimes writing through to 10 or lunchtime, then going to bed.
I don't write every day, because I don't need to. I'm a panster writer, so I have to wait for the characters to turn up in my head with their latest offerings. Then I just write/type them down. Once I've got them down, they go off and have a meeting or something (not sure where they go) and then they turn up again and off we go again. LOL. I used to find this a bit terrifying, but now I know that they're always there. They always turn up, they always talk. They'll give me what I need next.
So, I have almost no routine. I work when I feel like it. I write when they turn up. I edit every day though, because I can't stay away and I'm verbose. I have to fire up the word count chainsaw a lot. LOL. Henry and Isolde had 66,000 words cut from it, to make word count. It's astonishing what you really don't need.
I like to edit when I have my Bacardi and diet Cokes for the day though. It sets part of my brain aside and makes things jump out that don't need to be there. Aloha and thanks for reading. Meg Amor :-)