Pantsing vs outlining

A friend of mine asked me how have I switched from ‘pantsing’ a novel to ‘outlining’?

Can’t say I totally have, though it’s something I’m trying to do because ‘pantsing’ or writing it by the seat of my pants, requires a lot more in the way of edits than an outlined novel.

I’ve always written by the seat of my pants; I’d get an idea for a character or a scene, and I’d write it without regard to plot or story arc etc.

…and while I’ve written several novel-length manuscripts, the first one to be worthy of the term Manuscript, and worthy of all the time I’ve put into editing and polishing it is Ilavani.

I had to do a total of four rewrites and nine edits on that puppy, just to get the beat sheets, arcs, and timeline right, then the micro edits for filler/filter words, removal of the dread pirate ‘was’, the bank robber ‘that’ and smoothing and refining.

So, at the advice of two critique partners I’ve been trialing the Scrivener program and I love it. For books two and three, I’ve taken my hen-scratched paper notes (really, after almost eight years of University my handwriting is terrible) on what I want to happen in books two and three and have put it into the storyboarding part of Scrivener.

From there I’ve made chapter and scene notes on where it should be. I have the rough draft of book two written and am working on three. It’s helped, and I can see where I should hopefully have fewer edits at the end of those two projects.

Here’s the part where I still pants it, and probably always will.

When I’m into the scene, I know what is supposed to be happening, and I start writing… well, the characters tend to take over and make it what *they* need it to be. (I’m just the writer, I don’t get a say you know). My outline is just that, an outline, a suggestion. Yes, sometimes the characters completely screw my outline up, the lovely little darlings, and I have to go back and fix my storyboard to take care of whatever little wrench they threw me. That said, it still works a lot better than the way I did Ilavani or any of my previous other works.

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