There are two kinds of writers in this world. Well, perhaps three.
Plotters plan the story before writing. They know where it’s going and what comes next.
Pantsers are those who write “by the seat of their pants.” They have an idea, sometimes very detailed, but they simply start writing and let the story play out on the page.
Hybrids are those who do a little of both.
I’m a pantser, through and thought. Not that I haven’t plotted. My books with Guideposts required a fair amount of plotting for approval of the story. But apart from God’s grace, that is not my method.
Instead, I let ideas and characters swirl around in my head until the characters start talking to me. And then I write. As a pantser, the turns in a story often take me by surprise. As do some characters who appear on the page. But never have I had such an unexpected shift in a story as I recently had with my work in progress (WIP).
This isn’t a contracted WIP. It’s simply a story that has been in my head for over a year. In August, I pitched it to an editor who was excited about it. A few weeks later, before I could get those sample chapters written, I discovered the editor had left the publishing house. In some ways, I’m now seeing that as a blessing.
Why? Because no matter how much I love the characters of this story, and no matter how much research I did to flesh them and their situations out, I couldn’t hear their voices to start writing. So last week I decided to sit down with a blank screen and see what translated from my brain to my fingers to the screen. And what happened shocked me.
You see, in my planning, the main character was a young man. I had also thought there would be the point of view of a young woman and the young man’s mother. But when I started writing, it was the young woman telling her story. In first person. Present Tense.
Now I’ve written first person before. All my full-length novels are told in the first person. But never present tense. Yet as I read over what I’d written, it felt right. I think the story will follow the same themes as in my original idea, but now it will return me to my first love—exploring how women have lived through history. How they took control of their circumstances. How they coped when they could not.
I’m not sure what, if anything, will happen to this story, but I’m excited to work on it. To see where it leads. What I do know from over 20 years of writing is that no project is wasted time.
If you are a writer, are you a plotter, panster, or both? Even