Plotter or Pantser?

Does a pantser ever change? Can a leopard change his spots? I first learned the term last summer at the WD Conference. I blogged a little rant about it earlier. I am definitely a pantser although, I don’t particularly care for the term, it seems to have a negative connotation attached to it. Both ‘terms’ are at either end of the, ‘I plan every step’ to ‘I plan nothing’ spectrum. I’m reading the Novel Maker’s Handbook by Diane O’Connell and trying to take the advice to heart. I just completed a stack set of scene cards, color coordinated by character covering all 129 scenes in my 63,000 word novel. It took me a week of long hours and hard work. It was a good feeling to see my novel in a stack of colored cue cards and then laid out on my kitchen table. The process does make the scenes and their merit or lack thereof, stand out.

The author, Diane O’Connell, goes through a step-by-step process of writing a novel. Most of the suggestions have a similar way of putting together a story as others I have read online and implemented previously. However, I wasn’t familiar with the process and this informational guide seems to have come at a time when I’m more ‘willing’ to try something, anything to get my stories past the slush pile.

Another step is the Sketch Draft, basically the first draft. A framework of the novel. Done, just as it says, in a sketchy, loose, and fast format. Compared to, by the author, as a pencil sketch an artist may use to layout the map for his final product. This is what I’m thinking my first drafts of all my stories represent. The next step is the Write with Feeling Draft, where the framework is filled with feelings of the characters usually in First Person Singular POV. This step, as well, is most likely included in my first draft–without the ‘I meant to do that part’ I’m thinking that somewhere in my MS the elements are there I only need to draw them out. I can only hope.

My novel Summer Palace, Historical Fiction Fantasy, has been my focus for the past three months. Originally, a short novella now barely qualifies as a novel. I’m trying to mold what I have into the framework of the process covered in this handbook. When I am done. Hopefully, within the next month. I plan to upload it to for review and then start the ominous task of rewriting my Fantasy, Time Travel, Science Fiction  Places You Will Be From the subject of the editing services I received from Diane O’Connell.

My novel, at this very moment, is a 17,000 word WIP cut from a 55,000 word MS to be focused on the first quarter of my original story. The final needs to be at least 70,000 words. What I’m learning with the process on Summer Palace will be applied to Places more closely following the steps recommended.

I haven’t been doing much with Twitter, Facebook,, or blogging. I have been concentrating on my book. I haven’t entered any contests or sent out queries. I want the satisfaction of a completed marketable novel.

Thanks for reading, keep the comments coming.

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