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The Delicate Dance of Pantsing and Plotting | by Rochelle

What you know about craft — intentionally or intuitively — changes how well it works to pants

What I’ve found is that there is no such thing as fully plotting a book

Something will always come up in actually drafting that you weren’t prepared for

But I’ve also found that anyone who successfully pantses a story understands craft

When I started writing my first book, I planned and planned and planned

I answered the questions she asked at the end of each chapter

I hadn’t developed enough ideas, I hadn’t built enough world, and I didn’t have

I followed Susan Dennard’s Guide to Revisions for that book, nearly to the letter

I left a long, rambling question on a post in that series that never got answered because

I didn’t do the Outlining Your Novel method for planning it

Part of my reasoning was that it hadn’t worked for me, but part of my reason

I had a high concept and a character and a first line, and I did what I

I had missing pieces and things I didn’t understand and I threw things at the wall

Some of my favorite early prose is in that book, darlings I wish I could save

I went through the Guide to Revisions, but I felt like so much of it needed thrown

I sent desperate emails to my critique partner asking about ideas and how I could get from

I knew more about the mood I wanted to create than I knew about the story, and

I didn’t underwrite it — my goal of an 80,000-word book was about 80,000 words in every draft

I developed the characters and the prose and the plot together

I printed out the book character by character to rewrite specific arcs

I worked on foreshadowing, motifs, thematic resonance, and layering

To question everything not because you don’t believe in your draft’s potential but because you

For the first time, I reached a finished product feeling like I understood the world inside and

I could answer my CPs’ questions about elements that didn’t make it onto the page

My first two books, I queried when I got as far as I could on them without

When I finally queried my third book, I knew in the depths of my soul that it

From then on, I decided that had to be my measurement for when something was done

My fourth book is the enchantress book I’ve written about a few times

I finished the book, including writing 50,000 words in November — and “winning” NaNo for the first time — but

My goal with revision was to ensure the plot worked with the characters and the worldbuilding, and

I plotted, but I also pantsed the world, and had to come back to it later to

I could piecemeal a world that allowed the plot to work how I wanted it to, and

This time around, I knew the characters well and I liked the world

I gutted twenty-five percent of the book entirely and rewrote it with a different plot

But the personalities, relationships, and backstories didn’t change

I understood the characters and voices, as I had with my second book, but this time I

These days, I feel like if I know what story I want to tell, I can pants

But anyone who’s talked about pantsing working for them has known something in depth

She’s talked in many places how that world was a decade old by the time she

In 2019, she ran a poll-driven version of that story on Twitter that resulted in a publishing contract

I’m getting to the point where I can trust myself in a similar way

I knew where I needed to get to, and the characters have shown me how to get

And I know what the midpoint is because I have the scaffolding of the plot

If you’re writing a fantasy, maybe you could pants a story— after you know a ton

In my experience, you can ‘pants’ a story, but never with, ‘I don’t know anyone, I