Writing Advice: Seat of Your Pants

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Welcome to Monday, dear blog readers. I hope your week has gotten off to a good start so far. Today is the final Monday in the month of October, and so it’s the last Monday on which I will be talking about planning a story. On the past few Mondays, I’ve discussed Planning Tentpoles, the Beat Sheet, and Index Cards. To give credit where credit is most positively due, all of these planning and plotting tips have come from Chuck Wendig and his amazing blog. Today, we turn again to Mr. Wendig’s 25 Ways to Plot, Plan, and Prep Your Story and we focus on number 25: flying by the seat of your pants.

Within the NaNoWriMo community, there is a term for writers who choose not to plan, but rather to just jump headfirst into writing. These folks are known as pantsers. As in, they fly by the seat of their pants when writing. A more respectful term would probably be “discovery writers,” but no one I’ve spoken to has been offended by the “pantser” moniker.

In his blog post, Wendig says, “All this plotting and scheming just isn’t working for you, so go ahead and pants the hell out of it….Sometimes trying to wrestle your story into even the biggest box is just an exercise in frustration, so do what works for you and what doesn’t. Once again, however, I’ll exhort you to at least learn the skill of outlining — because eventually, someone’s going to ask for a demonstration of your ability.”

He’s right — planning can sometimes be a bear to deal with when all you want to do is get started on the actual act of writing. I totally understand that and sometimes I just dive in as well. But I always end up coming back and outlining some once I know what I’m writing about and who I’m writing about. There’s nothing wrong with “pantsing” it, but it’s good to have a framework for where you’re headed.

I hope this post, and the other Writing Advice posts this month, have been helpful for you! Happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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