M is for Meandering: Being a Pantser

I’m a pantser.  That means when I write a novel, I don’t — in my case, can’t — outline.  Sometimes I think of it as being like the Family Circus comic strip.  Thel tells Billy to come “straight home” and his idea of straight is to take a circuitous route all over the neighborhood.  It has its own direction, and it’s not necessarily the straightest point to get there.

Sometimes those meanderings turn into important things.  In Miasma’s first draft, I included a scene to a place that had been destroyed by magic because I wanted to show the devastation magic can cause.   The scene came out when I started to revise, but then, as the story evolved, the scene returned and became what the story was about.  If I tried to outline it, I would have missed out on that meandering that led to a big discovery.  Unlike outliners, the only way I can come up with scenes like that is to actually write the story and follow where it goes.  It’s crazy at times, and often requires a lot of revision, but it’s what it is.

QUESTION FOR YOU: What’s your experience when you pants a novel?  How does it develop?  What has surprised you?

3 thoughts on “M is for Meandering: Being a Pantser

  1. livrancourt

    Hmm…I like to know where I’m going, or at least where I think I’m going. I do a whole lot of brainstorming during the process of creating an outline, and while things do change once I start to write, I feel better if I have a rough idea of what comes next. Good post!


  2. I’m in agreement with the opinion that you either spend a lot of time outlining your story and then write it, or you write it as it comes, all over the place and messy. When you find the story, then you can then edit out the unneeded parts. Either way, it takes about the same amount of time. I’m in the midst of writing all over the place (pantser here)–it is coming in scenes that are out of order (not like the sequential way my first novel did) so I’m developing a system so I can put them together later. I know the basic premise and that’s about it.


    1. It seems like I spend most of my time rearranging scenes. I tried an organizational method of one chapter, one folder so I could save research. Great during the first draft. Worthless in the revision.


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