By Tineke Peeters
What is ‘a pantser’? Well, we are the writers that ‘go with the flow’ of our ideas without a set process.
Quite a few authors have a set of rules in writing out their plot and characters from start to finish in bullet points or another form before writing the actual book.
What we do is, in general, get an idea, but don’t work it out into detail before the writing process. I call it, as I have said before, go with the flow.
Some might say the characters tell the story and guide them throughout the story.
Others would say they have a muse telling them what to write without giving you a clue about the ending.
Don’t get me wrong, there needs to be a general idea obviously. There are no set ‘rules’ for how each and every author writes. All writers have their own process; no two are alike.
My personal process:
I write the first chapter without any idea of plot. My MC (main character) is only a vague character at this point. In my mind the characters get clearer as I write the next chapter. Then I start procrastinating for a few days about where this first chapter could go.
More than one scenario, with some research each, get written down on paper. If another one comes to mind one or half of another one gets scratched. When I think I have a plot, very vague still mind you, I start writing the next few chapters and then the muse comes into play. He or she, mostly she as my main character is a she as well, comes up with an idea, which I don’t have much time to work out. Bullet points are quickly noted. Problem here is that the new plot, yes, a totally new plot, doesn’t always work with what I have written yet.
I have to go back, not to edit, but to change some settings or another character. I will get the need to slap my muse around, but most of the time the new idea is better.
While writing I suddenly get stuck. Not necessarily writer’s block, but more like my vague plot needs some more detail. That is when the proverbial light bulb lights up.
Now, obviously, I get too many ideas and need to eliminate. Again, this process needs to happen fast, as my memory doesn’t work very well.
If I am still stuck, because my muse has a problem with my final idea, I chat with other writers or family or friends. They come up with ideas that my muse changes into something else, because suddenly she is happy with a certain idea that got triggered by chatting with everyone.
A perfect example was when my main character got stuck in the head of a unicorn and I didn’t know how to get her back out. What I did was talk to my teenage stepdaughter and her friend. They came up with one idea after the other, which led to another idea from my muse. This was my published book.
My recent book got some ideas from them as well, as I needed help with writing the diary of a twelve-year-old, which they are. Throughout all the ideas I got the light bulb thing again. Another idea about the plot suddenly became clear.
Basics of a pantser: no set plot, working with the characters, being open for changes throughout your story, and allowing the story to guide you.
There is always the editing process to work out the details which you missed while changing from one plot to the other.
Tineke Peeters is a 36-year-old pantser from Belgium and the author of ‘Book of Panacea,’ which can be found on Amazon. You can find Tineke on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tineke.peeters.1