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  • Writer's pictureKristina Atkins

Found Them! Found My Pants!

Or would pantsing be more a loss of pants?

At any rate, I’m trying something new with the latest draft of SPARKS: Semi-Pantsing!

In the past, I’ve described myself as a “Loose Outliner.” For the first version of SPARKS and its trilogy, I outlined the all of the subplots of the first book, then did more general outlines for the second and third books. Then, as I wrote the first book, I used the outline as a guide, but veered from it whenever I felt it necessary to do so. This worked out pretty well. I didn’t have a hard time figuring out what to write next. What I did have, though, was a more plot-driven book.

So, in the blogging world it’s called Pantsing. In the academic world it’s called a Character Driven Book. Now, I don’t think a carefully plotted out book is inherently plot driven. But for me, that was the result! Boo on that. I truly do want a more character driven book. I want to write a book that is fun, yet still deep. (Whoa. That’s deep.)

With RED SKY, the journey has been complete Pantsing. Non-stop pantsing action! I would say it’s been intense, but when the 130 pages have been stretched out over 1.5 years … not so much. Even still, I wrote and submitted two whole chapters that got the axe in the final draft. The story wandered and changed, and that was okay! But it was a long time to write.

I can’t be a true Pantser. I’m just a phony. My mind is a mystery to me. I hold on to some thoughts and ideas for years! Others get lost in minutes. It kinda depends on my frame of mind. I HAVE TO WRITE STUFF DOWN! Or else, things just get messy. And you don’t wanna see me get messy! (Kinda like this post. And I haven’t even had my Diet Dr. P yet today…) But I still want that spontaneity that pantsing gives me. So here’s what I’ve done:

First off, I have Scrivener! The Mr. gave it to me for my birthday. And I’m loving it so far. (Though I’m still not sure how to use the Inspector.) In my Notes section of the SPARKS document, I’ve got a text doc for each book. These are very loose outlines, but I’d still say they qualify as outlines.  Each has the same info:

Year Setting General plot line (VERY general, like “Lia does this, meets these people, figures out that this is what the bad dude is up to.”) What to reveal Possible titles

And that’s it! I have a Chars Doc, in which I have more detailed notes on the major chars. And other than that, nada pinata. And you know what? It’s working! And I’m loving the result. I’m about 9k in so far. The prologue and first chapters were easy. The second chapter … not so much. But the ensuing chapters have come easier and easier still. And my writing speed has increased to the tune of an increase of over 1k per day. (Not anticipating that today, because the day is somewhat full. Poop.) This is quite good for me. I’ve never been a fast writer.

Other techniques I’m employing/plan to employ: Veronica Roth’s “Don’t Look Back” and “Writing Out of Order.” The first has been very helpful. I have gone back to the first and second chapters for light editing, as I’ve gotten to know better both the voice and character, for continuity in both. But other than that, I haven’t thought much on it.

I’m in love with this story. Like, Mr. Atkins might should be worried. A trip to Vegas may be in order. I think this new Pseudo-Pantsing approach is a big part of that.

What about you? Pantser? Outliner? Candlestick maker? Do you have any tips for me?

(Click the image above for more pants-related cartoons from Toothpaste for Dinner.)

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