Mistakes I Made Part V: Pantsing

Yes, I saved the big one till last. After months of bewailing all the things I did wrong in my quest for publication, I’m winding up in a blaze of controversial glory. I was a teenaged pantser. Now I’m not and I’m more successful as a result. All usual MW claims about this being subjective and there being lots of ways to publication aside, I’m convinced that pantsing slowed me down big time and made for inferior work.

Couple of clarifications: “Pantsing,” for those who don’t know, is “writing by the seat of your pants,” in other words, not “plotting” or outlining your work before you start to write. In real terms, of course,–and this is where my bold start has to be nuanced a bit—the implied binary here is an over simplification. We should think of the difference between pantsing and plotting as an infinite set of grey shades […]

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Planning — I Was A Teenage Pantser

I was writing a different post for today, but this week’s discussion about advice to young writers got me thinking . . .

Jimi Hendrix. Eric Clapton. Eddie Van Halen. Stevie Ray Vaughan. All are famous rock guitar legends. And though they may not have started out knowing, they eventually learned how to read and understand music. Then there’s B. B. King who has incredible talent and has had incredible success even though he can’t read any music (or so he claims. I suspect after all these years, he’s picked up a thing or two), but people like King are the exceptions.

And yet, if you were to walk into a roomful of teenage, novice guitarists, I’d be willing to bet that a high percentage of them not only wouldn’t know how to read music, but would think that they didn’t need to learn. They wouldn’t want their Muses crushed […]

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Writing Your Book, part IV: The Leading Edge of the Slog

It’s been a few weeks since my last post in the “Writing Your Book” series. When we left off, we had done the prep work, found our voice, and had finally gotten down to working on the opening lines and pages. At this point we’ve had some time to get to work on the meat of the project, to move beyond the opening chapter and really delve into the book. So, how’s it going?

Hmmmm. Not the enthusiastic “It’s going great!” response I was hoping for. I hear some enthusiasm, but I also hear some grumbling. So maybe this would be a good time to chat about writing the vast middle of a novel. We’ll define “the middle” as everything between the end of Chapter 1 and the beginning of the climactic chapter. I did say it was a “vast middle,” after all….

Defining the middle so broadly, it almost […]

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