There was a discussion in a writing group on Twitter this week about Planning vs Pantsing when writing. I’m not gonna lie, I’m not much of a Planner when I write. I would tend far more towards the Pantser side of the fence. I’ve never quite worked out whether the term Pantser comes from flying by the seat of your pants, or all the panting we do from trying to get organised and running in circles. Planners, obviously, plan.
My take on this is that why waste time planning when my characters then promptly wander off and do exactly as they please? And, as luck would have it, I have a real life example of how pointless planning can be:
I had planned (Please be assured that when I say ‘plan’ I mean I had a vague notion pinging around somewhere in my brain as part of a larger mental list of ‘things I should probably achieve by Friday‘ I do not mean ‘written out in neat bullet-pointed notes with a handy list of references and research‘.)… I had planned to write about my first official author interview, which happened on Wednesday. I was going to tell you how fab it was, how I rocked it totally, and how the tech ran smoothly and I sounded intelligent and engaging. But then, yesterday, Smaller Dog got stuck in a drain on the bog, and I have photos, and the link for the author interview isn’t ready yet, and wouldn’t you rather a tale of woe involving a small and cute dog than me talking about me?
Here’s the sorry saga in picture form:
And here’s the transcript version:
Picture 1: The bog is so beautiful. There isn’t a cloud in the sky. It’s even almost warm. The silence is tranquil; we are alone here. What a lovely place to walk. Such freedom for the dogs to run.
Picture 2: Wilf bounces around. Alone.
Picture 3: Hmm… still WIlf alone. Those of you who’ve been paying attention will know that there is something missing from this picture: We have two dogs.
Picture 4: Ah. There he is.
Picture 5: Yep. There. In a drain. About 6 feet down, in stinking water, with sides made from totally vertical cuts into the peat, which crumble if we get near the edge. There; that’s where he is. (And, no,he didn’t even bother to bark, whine, or otherwise alert us to his location. We had to look for him. ‘Didn’t Wilf help?‘ I hear you wonder. No. No, Wilf did not help us find poor, sad, stuck Sam. Wilf was having fun bouncing around like a lunatic.)
Picture 6: My husband, braver than I, balances precariously on a pipe, and lassoes the idiot formerly known as Sam. (‘Didn’t I help?’ I hear you wonder. I was too busy stopping Wilf from helping. Whereas during the Great Search, Wilf’s help would have been most welcome, by the Rescue stage of proceedings, when he was actually willing to help, his help was… how can I put it? Unhelpful. We didn’t need him to start a landslide, push anyone else in, or join Sam in the water. Thanks WIlf, but no thanks.)
Picture 7: Just a little closer look at how skanky and rancid that water is. You’re welcome. Imagine if you will, newly-freed dog, ungrateful git, thanks us not, but instead shakes the contents of his coat. All over us. Smell that!
Pictures 8 and 9: Yes, he’s fine. (The car still stinks, obviously.)
So there you have it. We planned a nice walk. I planned to write somethng about writing. I planned to put my feet up and relax yesterday evening. Best laid plans… So yep, I’ll carry on pantsing around. Mostly.
Mostly, because, as you will note in the author interview (once it’s ready to share), I am currrently having to do a lot more planning than I would like to as I write the sequel (A Hover of Trout), to my first Cosy Mystery (A Diet of Death), because it continues wiht characters and settings from the first book. I have to write lists, timelines, characer profiles. Planning. Hmph. On the plus side, a later sequel may include a body in a bog. Possibly even one tipped into a drain by a mad spaniel named Wilf.
I guess I’ll share that interview next week. Sounds like a plan.