A Modest Proposal to Pantsers: Don’t! (via @LisaCron, HT: @WritersCentreAU)

What? But I love writing by the seat of my pants!

Lisa Cron proposes that folks like me stop this anarchistic madness and actually plan stuff:

Many writers embrace the notion of being a pantser – writing by the seat of their pants – as the most authentic way to write. That is, letting it all pour out as a way of “discovering” the story they’re fated to tell. Hey, as Robert Frost said, “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” It’s a dodgy sentiment at best, and often taken to extremes that would no doubt make Mr. Frost cringe, until it sounds a bit like Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams hokum: “Build it and they will come.” Translation: write blindly and the story will magically appear.

Instead, the surprise in both the writer and the reader is most often: “Well, I thought this would be engaging, but instead it’s a big fat mess.”

Ah. Yeah, Lisa has a point… She isn’t really out to slam pantsers, though, more to frame that strategy as a bad writing habit. She shows how we can teach ourselves to break free of that habit and focus.

[I]n my experience […] pantsing very rarely leads to success. Instead, it derails novels and memoirs that are otherwise well-written. In the rare case when pansting does work, it’s still not a great process: it adds years and years of rewriting, and even then yields stories that aren’t quite as compelling, as focused, as effective, as they could be if the writer knew where she was heading, and why, beforeshe began writing.

I think she’s got it right. Now to work out how to dig down and work out what I’m trying to say before I start saying it. Read the rest here: http://writerunboxed.com/2014/01/09/a-modest-proposal-to-pantsers-dont/

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