Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Fine Art of Pantsing

I love M*A*S*H and couldn't resist posting this little gem.
On my last post I talked briefly about pantsing and why I won't do it anymore. But maybe I was a bit hasty. What I meant was, I will probably never pants my way through an entire novel again. I've done it before, and the results were rather messy, grotesque in fact.

However, I think that pantsing does have a place in a writer's skill set and should not be dismissed entirely. I use pantsing when I'm outlining, in fact. I find it to be a great brainstorming technique. So I write a ton of outlines and ideas that I don't use. No big deal. Better a few random ideas jotted down, than fifty thousand words worth of mediocre nonsensical drivel. Pantsing is also great for shorter fiction, such as short stories or even flash fiction. It's great fun to go along on the ride of a lifetime with one of your characters and see just what they're made of.

I never used to outline, but in the recent months since I've started, I've found myself to be far more productive. I know where things are going and I know where I want them to end up and an outline allows me to stay on course. I used to think that outlining was the death of creativity, but there is creativity in every stage of the process, whether it be first or final draft, there is always room to be free with your creativity.

Pantsing is fun, but I'll never pants a novel again.

Are you a planner? Or are you a pantser?

If you plan, how detailed are your outlines?


  1. Argh, you've stolen my next blog post idea, damn you lol. *shakes fist*

    I'm an advocate for planning. But I prefer to think of it as making dots, then pants my way from one dot to the other.

    The reason I am so against pantsing is that almost always it becomes a stream of sensationalism, because the author doesn't know when something big or exciting will happen, they put something big and exciting in every chapter just to be sure. Before you know it, you have a very busy storyline.

    I have plotted the hell out of some projects, to the point that the project no longer excites me. So I have since learned and now plot, as I have mentioned, leaving giant leaps between each plot development.

    But you are right, pantsing is fun for the short term, in fact the first chapter or two of a project is often pantsed, then I sit back and say, who is this character and what kind of crap can I throw at them, and will they survive?

    1. You can still blog about it, Ben. I'm sure your readers will like to hear your thoughts on it. :)

      I agree with your comment on sensationalism. I have a story that is 25k and is nothing but one big bomb drop after another. Every chapter has a big event. It was entertaining as all hell to write, but I wrote myself into a complete and total corner and there are some big ass logic fails along the way. Not very productive at all. LOL

    2. LOL I'll title it, the fine art of PLOTTING ;)

      You defended pantsing very well though I think. It does have its uses.

  2. Totally a planner here. With a bit of pantsing included . . .