I’m a pantster. That’s right. I’m that writer who and meanders through the story looking for the best path. I give the finger to outlines and run away laughing. I don’t like feeling boxed in. I like to be out in the fresh air, tracking my MC, observing them in their natural habitat, learning as I follow. I bring the right tools and skills with me for long cold nights in the woods. I know what I’m tracking, I know the basics of my MC’s life, but I’m not exactly sure where they might lead me on the journey. Sometimes I follow a ghost trail that leads me nowhere, sometimes the path is easy and I can tell exactly what’s happening. This has always been my process. It’s what works for me. But now my process needs to be refined.
My stomach is in knots. I find myself with a real hard and fast deadline on a book I haven’t given much thought about. It already has a release date and I haven’t even written one word. Being a panster is great, but it’s not the fastest way from A to B. Things were different when my deadlines were self-imposed, but now I have an editor, publisher, and hopefully a fan base counting on me. The pressure is mounting. My current process is too slow. I know this. It’s time to try something new. It’s time to evolve, to *gulp* attempt plotting. I need to find a happy medium that won’t scare my muse (Elarin) away, still allows us to roam the woods, but with a better map and better tracking tools. A new tool that will allow me to be a better tracker.
I’ve read a lot of craft books over the years. Lots of book on plot and structure, and while I understand and appreciate all the knowledge I’ve picked up. I still write by instinct. I needed a tool that would let me use that instinct and organize my thoughts into a useful way. So yesterday, like any savvy writer, I googled novel plotting tools. It brought up most of the same type of ideas that I’ve seen before, nothing new, nothing I really felt would work for my pantster brain. Then I ran across a video on You Tube about clustering to plot your novel. I sat up. I use clustering a lot to brainstorm ideas, but I never thought to use it to actually plot a novel.
Wow! I watched the video and felt excited. I could do this. It seemed the perfect way to trick my panster brain into plotting, to get my left brain working along side my right brain. So this week I’m putting clustering into action. Will it work? I don’t know. But I’m going to give it a shot and I’ll let you know what I think.
Are you a panster or a plotter? Do you have any useful tools you like to use? I would love to hear about your process.