Writer of Contention: “We Are Outliners. You Will Be Assimilated.”
Virginia’s still in frigid-land today, though — it’s hard to believe I’m saying this — it’s warmer at 23 degrees. That’s because we don’t have the extreme wind chills of the last few days. Of course, tomorrow, it’s supposed to an icy mix, right when morning rush hour starts … Argh!
Off to the subject which starts as a prompt from The Daily Post: Pick a contentious issue about which you care deeply — it could be the same-sex marriage debate, or just a disagreement you’re having with a friend. Write a post defending the opposite position, and then reflect on what it was like to do that.
I actually don’t like taking sides, because the answer is often more in the middle. If someone is pounding their fists and saying “This is so!” my first reaction is “What’s the other side say?” I read a conservative newspaper and a liberal newspaper so I can get both ends of the news.
But in writing, I keep running into sides when it comes to the process of writing. Now for readers, it doesn’t matter about the process that created the book, as long as it’s a good story (we won’t get into what makes a good story. That’s a sticky area of opinion that’s hard to define).
Yet, it irks me to see blog posts called Plotters vs. Pantsers, Pros and Cons of Plotting and Pantsing, and “The Great Debate.” Nearly all of these are framed in such a way that Pantsers (people who don’t use outlines when they write) just need to get with the program and haven’t figured it out yet. Worse are the posts that are “I’m a reformed/recovering pantser” or “confessions of a pantser turned plotter.” They just sound like pantsers are unsavory types lurking in the doorways of abandoned buildings at night. What is there to confess? What is there to recover from?
All of it ends up going to the suggestion — sometimes subtle and sometimes not — that people who don’t outline are doing it wrong.
I took a writing lecture from Dean Wesley Smith on “Writing into the Dark” (he doesn’t think much of the term pantser). The thing that amazed me was that I had naturally gravitated to all but one of the things he suggests. Then I moved away from them because the Writing Collective (like the Borg Collective) kept saying that they weren’t a good idea, for a variety of reasons. I find it now another way to pressure pantsers into conforming by outlining.
Ys, I’m now doing all of those things I moved away from again, because they were essential to how I write. When I didn’t do them, it made things worse. No assimilation here. I am me. I do it the way that works for me.
And since I talked Star Trek, a quick video of Borg Squared: