Pantsing, Plotting, or Plodding

Back in June, I started work on a new manuscript. I’m just over 28,000 words into the project. And, almost 11,000 of them are in a single scene.

And that’s a problem.

I know a single scene in a novel can’t be that long. A large part of that material will need to be deleted. Maybe some of it can be salvaged and moved, but most of it will end up in the cut file.

And yet, I’m still slogging my way through that scene. And there’s a reason I’m devoting so much time and energy on material that won’t make the final cut.

I’m a pantser. I need to write my way through pages and pages while I figure out who my characters are, what motivates them, what they fear, and how they fit into the overall story.

The scene I’m currently writing has a cast of eleven characters. And I can tell that some of these characters will be key to the novel. Others may have a minor role to play. Or perhaps they’ll be cut.

But placing them in this room and having them interact is helping me figure out what role they’ll play.

It’s also quickly draining my interest in this book. After all, slogging through that much dialogue can really take the momentum out of writing.

But I perservere because I know my process. I may at times wish I had a cleaner, more organized writing process. I’d love to be a plotter, to have a nice roadmap of what will happen and how to get from a to z in my story.

But I know even plotters spend time writing character pages, where they figure out the backstory of each character and what role each will play in the novel.

Each writing approach has its pros and cons. Plotters probably have fewer revisions and less material to cut from their first drafts than I do.

But wandering the terrain without a map is how I approach my work. Sometimes, I write myself into a corner and have to give up on a project. Other times, I become bored with the characters (as happened in my romance).

But this is my process, and I’ll keep slogging along.

If you’re a plotter, I tip my cap to you. If you’re a fellow pantser, I offer some encouragement to stick with it. We’ll get there in the end.

(Photo by Vincent Maret on Unsplash)

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