Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hello, My Name Is...

Writers are an interesting bunch. Some of us will never admit to the title of "writer". Perhaps the fear that one day someone will call us out on it feels too great? Still others adopt a host of other tags to define themselves and all that they do on the page.  You know what I'm talking about.

Plotter, panster, left brainer, right brainer, tell me, what does your badge say? To be fair, my blogger occupation is currently listed as wordsmith.

We all hold up signs looking to connect with other like minds. There's a comfort in meeting people who think as we do, but wouldn't we do better to step outside of our boxes?

One can always make the argument that you learn as you go, but at some point you have to concede that your way is not always the best way. That was my thinking recently when I hit yet another snag with my revisions.

For all my pride of being a pantser, a right brain extraordinaire, I had to admit that I was feeling lost, disconnected from my protagonist. I was feeling the need for some structure that only thinking like a plotter could bring. It's not that I was incapable of such mapping detail, just that such a process was never mine or ever needed for me to write...until now.

Putting aside my manuscript, I started delving into some plot and structure books. Reading was my new comfort zone. Thankfully, it didn't take long before I hit gold with Martha Alderson's, "The Plot Whisperer" - a big thank you to Debbie for sharing Martha's You Tube Series

Martha knows writers. She speaks the lingo and knows all the excuses, hangups and reasons for which side of the brain fence we roam. She recognizes the divide but also takes some time to explain what we stand to lose when we write with only half a brain. Martha encourages writers to explore both sides of their mind, the analytical, detail oriented, language driven left as well as the intuitive, big picture, character and emotion driven right. It might not be easy for all but she makes a compelling argument that "balance serves a story well".

So now I am working on this dual system of writing and plotting my story. I've surrounded myself with plot planners, bubble diagrams and scene trackers. I've asked questions about dramatic action and considered my character's emotional development. All in all, I am moving forward once again and it feels good. The best part, my mind is full of ideas.

Plotter or Pantser? Yes and yes, but WRITER suits me best.

Have you bridged the gap between plotter and panster? What's the biggest writing challenge you've had to face?


  1. Thank you for teaching me a new word today! Never heard of a pantser, but apparently, sometimes I am one. I've worked both ways--there were times I plotted things to death (I may have even had an entire folder divided into sections to organize my thoughts=crazy), and there were other times I got inspired by a commercial or a story I saw on the news and just let it flow from there. Admittedly, I think that was some of my better work.

  2. I'm so glad you love Martha, too! She's helped me so much.

    This last weekend I volunteered for two days at a multi-author book signing. It was really fun to pick their brains about plotting/non-plotting. Most of the authors who were pantsers did zoom in after writing their books to make sure things mades sense. So basically, plotting after writing by the seat of their pants. So you're in good company!


  3. I think at times you need to have a little of both to have both direction and muse inspiration. Found you through Debbie's blog and I am a fellow New Yorker.... hi! :O)

  4. Hello all - thanks for stopping by!

    Miss Jenn, I may have taught you a new word (lol) but you've got the goods for sure!

    Debbie - I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that weekend, lucky you! Thanks again for all your words of wisdom and encouragement :-)

    Hi Diane! Happy to meet a fellow NYer, welcome! I agree that a little bit of both goes a long way. Do you have a project that you're currently working on?