Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Plotter or Pantser, or the Way Between with @DeanFWilson #WriteTip #AmWriting #Fantasy

There are three primary schools of thought when it comes to writing a novel, pointing to the two extremes available, and the road between them. The two diverging ways are affectionately called the Plotter and the Panster, while the third way is largely unnamed, being a mingling of the others.

The Plotter creates intricate plans of how the story will be told, from chapter summaries to, in the more extreme examples, a synopsis of the entire book, scene by scene. An author with this approach might spend just as much time with the outline, rewriting and revising it, than the finished product itself. The framework is put firmly in place, and then the rest is filled in until the book is complete.

The Pantser, on the other hand, takes the opposite approach. A theme or character might pop into mind and the author sits down and goes with the flow, seeing where it brings him or her, often being as surprised by the story as the reader will be later. In some cases the author does not even have any sliver of an idea for the book at all, but simply opens up a blank page and begins an exercise almost like automatic writing.

My experience and research suggests that authors are usually somewhere between these two extremes, rarely entirely at one end or the other, but that we tend to lean more towards one approach, while in some cases the preference depends on the book in question.

A good example of the ambiguity of approaches to writing is J.R.R. Tolkien, whom many would, at the outset, consider a Plotter, given the sheer volume of planning that went into The Lord of the Rings and his other writings, not to mention the numerous appendices.
However, his own words speak differently. In his Foreword to The Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien said: “This tale grew in the telling...” He clarified later: “As the story grew it put down roots (into the past) and threw out unexpected branches: but its main theme was settled from the outset...”

Here we see then that Tolkien, like many writers, had a primary idea in mind, but did not know all of the details before the writing process began. When the pen was put to the page, with the intent of driving a character to a particular event or experience, things began to take shape in unintended ways.

Personally, I usually come up with a seed idea, something that thematically sets the stage for everything that will follow, or, as is often the case, precede it. The thought that will germinate into a story for me is often how it ends, and I work backwards in my mind to where the story must start in order to bring about that ending. With the A and Z in place, there is sufficient confinement, a reasonably wide, yet not too broad, vessel in which to contain the story; many, and perhaps all, of the letters in-between remain unknowns until they are encountered.

Likewise, a story may begin with a character, who is then dropped into a world or placed in a scenario in which they, with their unique personality, must respond. Often the thoughts, words or actions of these characters are initially shocking to the author, yet make perfect sense in retrospect, when the author considers that the character, with his or her various personality quirks, can act no other way. Thus the character comes alive and drives the story, while the author merely records it, hoping to capture the events as they unfold, and hoping to deliver to the reader something approximating the experience the author undergoes—the experience of life and living, through the eyes of another.

roadToRebirth (1)


After the catastrophe of the Call of Agon, Ifferon and his companions find themselves in the unenviable situation of witnessing, and partaking in, the death of another god—this time Corrias, the ruler of the Overworld.

With Corrias locked inside the corpse of the boy Théos, he suffers a fate worse than the bonds of the Beast Agon. Yet hope is kindled when the company find a way to restore the boy, and possibly the god, back to life.

The road to rebirth has many pitfalls, and there are some who consider such meddling with the afterlife a grave risk. The prize might be life anew—but the price might also be a second death.

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Genre - Epic Fantasy
Rating – PG
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