How now, Mates?
Today marks Day Four of the "Hydra Blog Hop", and to celebrate, author Jay Noel has come for a visit. He will be sharing his Guest Post on his "Confessions" as a "Reformed Pantster". (Mr. Noel's forthcoming novel, Dragonfly Warrior, is scheduled for publication through Hydra Publications in early 2013.)
So, without further ado, strap on your favorite pair of jeans and discover the confessions of a had-been pantster~
Confessions of a Reformed Pantster...
by Jay Noel
I've written a bunch of novels that will never see the light of day. Stories that went all over the place. Poor victims of a sprawling imagination. By nature, I'm pretty "by-the-seat-of-my-pants." However, life has dramatically changed the last several years, and being so haphazard and spontaneous just won't work anymore.
Those who juggle careers, writing aspirations, and children all at once will know exactly what I'm talking about.
For ten years, the manuscripts I wrote were such prime examples of what happens when wayward creativity is allowed to spew all over the place. Unbridled and wild. I also spent a lot of time putting my English degree to good use and did lots and lots of editing. So I looked inside of myself and thought, "There's got to be a better way."
I went to the "Dark Side" and tried my hand at outlining. Plotting. Planning. It was tough at first. Disciplined is always difficult for the undisciplined. I tried all different kinds of outlines...and my uncontrollable urges got the best of me, and my outlines always ended up looking like full blown manuscripts. So I worked really hard at forcing myself to make SHORT outlines.
One of my blogger buddies, David Powers King, did a post back in March of 2012 where he described his outlining process. I took what I did (namely the visual mapping I love to do) and David's format - and magic happened. My outlines were concise and clear, yet it left me with more than enough room for flexibility. Here's how to create your own Mini-Synopsis-Outline:
Brainstorm in any fashion you wish. For me, I love to draw "bubble maps" or "mind maps." I literally start with one central idea and just keep mapping outwards from there.
Once you've gotten the juices flowing and figured out some of your characters, plot, conflicts, themes, etc., create a three lined paragraph summary of every chapter. Do this for as many chapters as you're going to need to tell your story. Keep each chapter summary to only three lines. This forces you to write down the chapter's main purpose and action. It also gives you plenty of room to flesh out the chapter as you write.
When you're done, feel free to go back and edit the outline for your book. It's a plan with just enough to help guide your writing, but doesn't pigeonhole you or hold you hostage to your initial ideas. If done right, your outline should only be 2-3 pages long. All of mine have ended up being three pages for a 100,000 word novel.
I use my mini synopsis outline throughout the writing process, always referring back to it when I'm beginning and ending a chapter. And when inspiration hits me, I'm free to not follow any part of what I've written on my outline. Sometimes, you go in a different direction and the outline itself might need to be revamped. This happens to a pantster like me maybe 33% of the time. But when I do make those changes, it's so much easier for me to revise my work because I know where to look and what chains in the link need to follow any changes I make.
Since using this method, I've written four novels with only one where I quit about three-fourths of the way through. Although I can see clearly where it just wasn't working for me, and I'm able to go back and rework it.
I still love the flow and creative spontaneity that comes with feeding off of my imagination and being inspired by my muse. But utilizing the mini synopsis outline method, I'm able to create a workable skeleton from which I can let my creativity continue to flesh out and build. I can still go a little crazy and wander, but now I'm no longer lost in the woods. Plotting works.
I'm Jay Noel, and I used to be a Pantster.
Jay Noel is a one-time high school English teacher, but now works in medical sales. He's been blogging since 2005, and has spent most of his writing career as a freelance editor. After finally gathering enough courage, he has taken the leap to writing his own work. His first novel, Dragonfly Warrior, is an Asian-inspired Steampunk story filled with pirates, ninjas, gunslingers, and samurai warriors. They say you must write what you love, and damnit, that's what he's done. It will be published in early 2013 by Hydra Publications.
His blog can be found at www.jaynoel.com
His blog can be found at www.jaynoel.com
Also: Take a peek at my "Hydra" feature on Tricia Ballad's Blog.