Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Retiring Pantser least for the most part. I never EVER thought I'd say that but there it is. And it's all due to one book.

Story Engineering

I am now adding this to my 'must read' books for writing. I'll post the rest of them below for a refresher. 

It all started when my friend Shallee shared her notes with me from LDStorymakers. I loved the notes from Larry Brooks. They changed the way I wrote my book. So she told me I had to read this book. And, of course, I resisted. But I'm glad I got over that.

The book will tell you the way to write a story. How to create compelling character's. Where to put your story twists so that it works. The four different parts of a story. Everything.

Yes, it was overwhelming and my brain is fried. The thing that stuck out to me most is that there are many ways to write a book, but one way will get you to the end result faster. He emphasized the fact that pantsers often don't discover the heart of their story until they've revised it several times. 

And that is what I'm going through right now. And it's miserable. It would definitely be easier to revise a plan or outline than it is to rewrite all 300 pages of my novel over and over and over again. 

So, my next novel will be outlined. At least to some degree. I won't write one word until I've figured out the major plot points, pinch points, midpoint, character's, and setting. It just won't do. 

My favorite analogy that Larry uses to compare plotter's to pantser's is getting from point A to point B. When plotter's start their story at point A, their trip is like an airplane ride. Smooth and short. Whereas a pantser would take a train. Slow and bumpy. I've ridden that train and I'm ready for the plane.

Are you?

Here are my other suggested reads for writer's. And I'm sure the list will grow with time.

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need Writing the Breakout Novel Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print


  1. Wow, thanks for the great recommendations! Save the Cat is definitely on my list too :)

  2. I've read some of his advice online and he is sooo smart! I'll have to pick up his book and get all of his genius.

  3. I've heard Shallee say such good things about this book several times, and I'm planning on buying it! Hopefully it's not too late for my first drafts and they can be whipped into shape with an outline. It sounds like this book can help with that! :)

  4. It's always nice to have some kind of balance. I'm a plotter/pantser. When I have my idea, I write everything I can out about it- like a synopsis. I'll write my climax down, character names and their quirks, back history of my world etc. Then I'll start writing. So I do't have each chapter plotted out, but I know the general idea of the direction I want to go. Once I get to the climax, I start plotting. I'll write a timeline of what my character finds out and when, so I don't forget what she is supposed to know and isn't supposed to know. Then I'll write down what I want accomplished in the rest of the chapters. I like doing it that way so I have the freedom to change a chapter, or slip a new idea in and still have the structure of an outline without freaking out that I've changed it completely. And honestly, sometimes I don't know what'll happen. When I write, my characters end up doing things I had no idea they'd do. I don't want to waste time outlining forever, agonizing that I don't have something to get my character from point a to point b later on in the story.

  5. I'm a pantser, but I do generally have important plot points planned out before I start writing. That just comes from the awesome rush of the first idea. I never know where it's going to end, and to be honest, I like that. It does take a few drafts for a theme to emerge, but the discover is the fun part for me.

    That said, I think every project is different. I have a new WIP my brain is working on and it will require a decent amount of research, so I think I'm going to need to outline it :P

  6. Yay for amazing books! I've been slowly transitioning from pantser to plotter anyway, but this book really helped me find a perfect middle ground. I love that it gives you actual goals. You're not just "outlining," you have specific plot points to hit. That was so helpful for me.

  7. Wow - this sounds like an amazing book. I just purchased my Kindle copy. :)

  8. Thanks for the awesome recommendation. As a pantser in the middle of very sticky revisions, trying to work out outline number four, I'd say his advice sounds spot on.

  9. Thanks for all the opinions. I definitely think there needs to be a balance. I'm not entirely going to be a plotter because I love the excitement of being a pantser, but this outlining thing will definitely save me of some of my revising headaches. I hope everyone will read it anyway. As I read it, I marked the spots I wanted to remember and then went back and wrote 8 pages of notes from those spots. It was fabulous.

  10. I've never heard of this book, but it sounds great!


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