So I was reading Kate’s Blast from the Past today and realized, as someone who is so deep in two different novels that I’m having a hard time separating fiction from fact, that I am indeed a pantser as well. This is rather obvious to those who have met me in person
Person #1: You know Jason Cordova?
Person#1: He’s a bit… ADHD, isn’t he?
Person#2: That’s an understatement.
So being an extreme pantser is definite up my alley. Sure, I might write out a rough outline and maybe some key plot points (“Yes, that guy must die… soonish”) but when an idea hits, I typically run with it. This is great at some times (see: Kraken Mare, Corruptor) and horrifying at others (see: Wraithkin, the pantser novel which took 8 years to write).
I’m not going to criticize anyone who is either a plotter or a pantser, however. In the end, as Kate said, it matters not which route you take, because you are writing a novel. Really! So long as you meet your word count goal for the day/week/month/year, who cares how you do it? Pantsers and plotters unite against procrastinators!
(I’m one of those, too)
(Shhh don’t tell my readers)
Now, while I’m a pantser when it comes to the actual writing part, in my worldbuilding I’m more akin to George R. R. Martin and a historian. My detailed history of every novel I write is detailed to the extreme. Zim, a very handy wikia program I use (and is free!), works very much like wikipedia for each and every novel. Every single universe has a bible, from which I use all the information from past novels to build a detailed history of the world. The most extensive bible is for my in-progress YA series, of which there are eight books planned. The thinnest is actually The Warp, because… other than a general “idea” of what the end game is, I’m making it up as I go along.
Is this the best way to do things? Yes? No? LIke I said before, it doesn’t matter. Not at the end. The readers usually can’t tell, and you don’t need to tell your publisher a thing. It’s pretty much between you, your muse, and the hundreds of people…
Son of a b*tch!
Okay, no one tell my publisher. Please? He doesn’t need to know that I fly by the seat of my pants when writing.
I have to also extol the praises of Zim. Found out about it here and have been using it. Great for keeping track of character names and small background details of big characters as well. Gives me something to pull up when I have been away from a story that’s been sidelined due to pantsing other stuff and I need a quick refresher.
Will you publish the Wikia along with the book? Rob Howell did this with one of the first series of his I read, and I rather think it’s going to be one of those things that sets e-publishing apart from Dead Tree Publishing, in that the links are clickable, so you don’t HAVE to get totally drawn out of the story to get the background.
I’m actually thinking about putting out the bible for The Kin Wars Saga when I create my mailing list, given away to people who sign up.
The discussion of pantsers vs plotters always brings me around to the concept of the world as myth that I got introduced to in Heinlein’s novels.
It seems those who plot must be constructing their stories like a kid builds with LEGOS, you have a vision, but how you put it together isn’t fixed from the start. But those who write by the extreme seat of their pants, no plotting in advance, ah. Is that stream of consciousness coming in sequentially via real time transmission across the barriers between universes? An idle speculation for now, since I certainly don’t know anyone who has traveled from one universe to another, even assuming it is possible.
I was going to comment…
But I saw a squirrel.
Ooh, Zim isn’t just Windows… I might need to look into this, even if I never actually auth.
For those curious: http://zim-wiki.org/downloads.html
In addition to Zim, there’s also TiddlyWiki, which takes a different approach but which I quite like. It’ll run on any browser, but if you run it in Firefox there’s an autosave plugin you can install.
And for tablet users, there’s NoteLynx. An Android app, but it’ll run on Windows in the Bluestacks emulator. Since I am seldom home, I barely have Windows capability, so I hunted this up.
I keep lists for my works in progress.
Always a character list.
Sometimes other lists. The work reveals them — generally late enough that I have to go back and re-read the beginning to generate it.