Oh, that magic.


I’ve gone from a panster to a plotter during the re-write of this novel. This novel is complex, lots of plot points, so much to keep track of with the multiple POVs, I had no choice.

I forgot that I’m a panster at heart. So, when a problem arose I played with it for days by sitting and thinking, writing down notes, asking myself questions, and when a solution arose I began to work it into the problematic scene. While I was writing, something new and unforseen unfolded: the perfect event, the perfect solution to my dilemma. I was thrilled. And I was reminded of the magic of writing, of not seeing where I’m going, of letting the words flow of their own accord and watching stories take shape before me.

I’d forgotten all about that magic because I’d been so intensely plotting and fixing and tweaking. But there’s no way that this particular twist was going to present itself to me, it waited for me to let my subconscious work and then came out.

Sometimes it’s best to just sit down and write and let the story tell itself. Sometimes, all the planning in the world just isn’t going to help.

I suppose the trick is learning when what’s needed: careful thought, or free flow.

Do you move back and forth between the two worlds of panster and plotter?


20 thoughts on “Oh, that magic.

  1. I definitely relate to having the perfect (desperately needed!) plot fix “write itself” when I stop agonizing over it and trying to plan it out.

    And I am a panster, through and through–unless I “hit a wall.” Then I’ll write one line blurts about what needs to happen next the close as I can figure and take it from there.

  2. Yes, I plan, but only so far.
    When I have planned every last second on to the very end, I find I don’t write the novel.
    All that magic disappears.
    I have also discovered that I must not talk about work in progress.
    It tends to take fright run away from me!
    When I can’t write my story, I go away and write a sonnet.
    My busy head can then sort it all out while I’m not looking.

    1. Hi Pat! Intereseting that you can’t discuss your work in progress! I am so dependant on discussion, it helps me through tough spots. It’s fun to see how similar and different each of our processes are!
      I am the same in that I need to get busy if a problem arises that I can’t sort. You write sonnets šŸ™‚ how nice!!!
      I’ll go to my violin, or yoga, or walk, but only when the family’s not home and I can think! lol
      Thanks for the comment!

      1. Very much so – the strict metre and rhyming is very different to prose, but making music is a brilliant way to switch off the writing.
        I was learning to play the piano when I was a child, but am, and was, much too lazy to practise.

      2. lol! My son has been studying the piano for 1.5 years. It’s certainly demanding, but he loved. My daughter is just now beginning the violin (she played piano for 1 year, but decided to switch to violoin).
        I began the violin in my early twenties, never had any activity that required this kind of discpline as kid–I learned it as an adult. It’s good for writing!

      3. Think it’s too solitary an instrument for me – I shut the piano lid and refused to play again – I have of course, but only on my terms and it’s less and less and less each year.
        My husband has tried to learn as a adult – but he’s just as naughty with practice as me!

      4. It’s the same for so much of the arts–the solitude.
        I love the practice of the violin, the solitude for me is splendid, but perhaps it’s because my life so full of my family all the time that I relish my alone time. But you sound like you enjoy creating your sonnets, so why force it?

      5. Yes, I’ve given up on the music side a long time ago. There is just a tiny piece of me that wishes she were more inclined that way – I sing in the shower though!
        But sonnets and haiku are where I go to when the prose is having trouble and it does seem to work for me.

      6. Well..if a part of you wants it…..maybe one day you will have the patience for it…..at the right moment in life.

        Enjoy the sonnets & haiku! Those are both things I’ve never explored yet!

  3. oh, that magic … what a perfect title. It is magic and it’s what keeps us coming back, isn’t it! I sometimes move to plotter once I have a first draft, if the structure feels out of whack.

    I’m so glad you found that magic this week. šŸ™‚

    1. Hey Cathryn!!! šŸ™‚ šŸ™‚
      How are you? BUsy writing I know!!
      It is magic, it’s the most precious part of writing to me.
      I have never tried to plot a first draft–I cannot imagine that it would go very well for me!
      Yup, the plotting is all about that structure for me too…
      NIce to see you around!

    1. It is Marvin, but I’ve learned that plotting is a large of the craft, and for me necessary, if at times not always so engaging! It’s what I have to do to provide a readable piece.
      Love your way with words: uncluttered, uncovered expression.
      really nice!

  4. I’m a little of both. I call it an in-betweener because I might do a little planning. I like to know points A to Z, but not everything because then I can’t write the book. I’m a panster in the fact that I like to write and explore the story as I go along.

    1. You are such a prolific writer, Stephannie, it always amazes me how much you produce! I like this thought of yours: exploring the story as you go, but having a definite spot to reach. Thanks for sharing.

  5. LOL! What a relevant blogpost for me Jenn, despite me telling everyone what a serious plotter I am, I am currently pantsing Chapter 3 of my novel! Ha ha!
    Sometimes when I’m plotting a scene, I forget that, to get from A to C, you have to have a B. I guess thats when I just wing it(or pants it). šŸ˜‰

    1. I wonder if we can ever be only one or the other? I think we need both, to plot and to panst. hehe, that sounds so funny!
      I love it when a careful plan unwinds after I sit to write–fun! šŸ™‚

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