Monday, January 09, 2012

Perils of a Pantser

Hard at work on the latest book when I got stuck in what I call Writer’s Bog and chapter fifteen turned into The Chapter That Would Not Be Finished. It was like giving birth to a rhino wearing skates. I was stuck and in pain.

“It’s December,” I told myself. “You’re shut down by the Christmas Crazy. Too much going on at work and at home. You need quiet.”

So, I took a day off from work to write. I had the house to myself and hours of peace and quiet. I got a page or two done but it was HARD, way harder than it should be. The creative juices would not flow, leaving me puzzled, panicked, and depressed by the whole sorry state of affairs. Did the whole book suck or just chapter fifteen? Should I toss it and start over? Had my pantser tendencies landed me in this mess? I have a deadline. What if I never get unstuck?


I finally broke out of the bog on New Year’s Eve. Know what it was? I went back to chapter fourteen and discovered two problems: my hero had done something that needed explaining and I found a hole in the story.

Fixed both and voila! I finished chapter fifteen. The muse and I are on speaking terms again, and I have achieved forward momentum. Whew!

The subconscious is a strange thing. Somewhere in the dim recesses of my brain I knew what was wrong. I just had to figure it out.

I’m sure this NEVER happens to you plotters out there. Wink, wink. Nod, nod.


Cari Hislop said...

Being a pantser, I know exactly what you mean. I started (what I hope to be) the last chapter and even though it was good it didn't feel right. It's been deleted and I think I know how the story wants to go. Please not the bog again!!! It took me years to learn that when it starts feeling hard then I'm doing something wrong.

Good luck with finishing your book by your deadline!

Lexi said...

Thanks, Cari! It's so frustrating when you can see the story up ahead, but you hit a road block! Nice to meet another pantser. I am seriously jealous that you are on the last chapter!

Cari Hislop said...

Don't be jealous! This baby rhino with skates and knee pads has been three years coming. I'm at 121,000 words which makes me wonder if I left a mental tap running, but the characters seem to know what they're doing...which is good because I haven't a clue!

Suzanne Johnson said...

A confirmed obsessive-compulsive plotter here...who still gives birth to rhinos. It just happens, even when I start with a 10,000-word outline as I did with the current WIP. My characters just won't BEHAVE. Glad your subconscious figured it out!