Pantser 101

Qu’est-ce Que C’est “Pantser”?

I didn’t realize my writing style had a name, thinking I was more of a procrastinator. Through experience and a lot of reading, I have learned that I am a pantser, (I had to look that up when I first heard it). It means to fly by the seat of your pants. No outline. No plan. I like to see where my characters are going to take me. If you haven’t tried it, give it a shot. I guarantee it will take you down roads you never imagined. But, yes there’s a but, there is still prep work, even with no plan.

With NANOWRIMO (National November Writing Month) quickly approaching, it’s made me think about how I will structure my writing. Years ago, I was an active participant, until it fell apart by mid-month. There were a bunch of excuses for the reasons behind I couldn’t stay with it, but none of that matters. It’s all armpits (we all have them and they all stink). I don’t know where I heard that from, but it has stuck with me ever since. What really happened was that I lost interest in my character.

In order to do this wisely, there are three things I would like to suggest.

  1. Know Your Character(s)
  2. Know the Problem They Want to Solve
  3. Keep Writing

Know Your Character(s)

I’m not talking about things you could find on their driver’s license, although it’s a good start. This will require you to do some research, mental and otherwise, especially when you discover that your antagonist is some sort of scientist that you know nothing about (I may or may not be alluding to my own character). Bottom line is that you need to know them like you know your best friend and then dig deeper. Here are a few things to help jumpstart getting to know your character. Fill out the Proust Questionnaire (something I like to do to get to know my character). Fine-tune their emotions. Find the root of their emotions. Are there situations that make them giggle, chortle or guffaw? What makes them tear up, sob, or makes their throat constrict?

Questions a Pantser Should Ask

What are things that they would never tell another soul?

If you read their diary or journal, what would they say?

What are their inner thoughts?

What will you find in the inner recesses of their mind?

Who would be the first person they would tell to give them an out?

Would it be their best friend, their priest, or their parents?

What annoys the crap out of them? (If you don’t know, as their creator pass on something that irritates the heck out of you.)

Know the Problem They Want to Solve

Answer the five W’s: Who, What, When Where and Why

Who or what is the problem? Who or what needs solving and how does your character(s) go about finding the solution? When is the problem taking place? Is this happening now, in the future, or in the past? Why is this worth solving for your character(s)? It can be as simple as finding love or as difficult as going to some far-off galaxy in order to save humanity.

Consider Their Solutions

List some ways they can solve the problem. When you finally get to the problem, at least you’ll have a few ideas as to how your character will go about fixing it. If it changes, that’s perfectly okay. It happens, because you’re a pantser. Remember: Your “WHY” has to be big enough for you to keep on, keepin’ on.

Keep Writing

This is a simple and difficult task, but as a writer, we write and we just keep on writing. Don’t just write when you’re happy. Write when you are feeling those raw emotions, (the kind of emotions we don’t share on social media). As we continue to free our characters from the shackles we put them in, you are no longer bound by the constructs of what you think your audience will think of them. Once you stop worrying about what other people think. Now you have finally entered the mind of your character and you, the writer, can take them where ever they want to take you.

Lastly, try taking an experience from your journal and make it a part of your characters life. Answer some of these questions and you are on your way to create your very own fictional character. Enjoy their journey!

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Hope to see you there on NANOWRIMO in 39 days, but who’s counting ;). You can find me there under the user name: des_haros. If you would like to see more posts on ways to become a better writer, please like and subscribe. Thank you for dropping by.