Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Posted by in Fiction, Guest Posts

S. G. Browne, author of the fantastic Breathers and his new novel Fated, tells us why he is a pantser. . .

Apparently, I’m a pantser.

I never knew I was a pantser, or even what a pantser was.  Kind of like in seventh grade when one of the other thirteen-year-old students asked me if I was a virgin and I answered, with a certain amount of disdain: “No.” I had no idea what a virgin was, but I knew without a doubt I couldn’t possibly be one.  So imagine my surprise to learn that I’m a pantser.

In the world of novelists, there are apparently two types of writers:  Plotters and pantsers.  The former, obviously, plot out their stories, while the latter tend to write by the seat of their pants.

Personally, I prefer to say that I write the same way Indiana Jones deals with Nazis and stolen artifacts:  I make it up as I go.  Plotting has never much interested me.  I prefer to discover the story as I write it.  It’s kind of the difference between taking a guided tour where you have everything planned out or buying a plane ticket to your initial destination and figuring out where you want to go next.

While it’s true that this can sometime get me into trouble (like when I get two-thirds of the way into a book and I’m not really sure how the third act is going to play out), eventually the characters help me to figure out where the story needs to go.  And yes, I know that sounds a little weird in a multiple-personality kind of way, but for the most part, all of my plots develop from the actions of my characters, not the other way around.  Otherwise, it would be like forcing my characters to do things they didn’t really want to do.

And that’s how I approached writing my novel, Fated.  I started with a main character, who just so happens to be Fate, and I put him into a situation in which he’s in charge of the 83% of the human race who are fated for normal or mediocre lives.  Or worse.

Drug addicts.  Criminals.  CEOs of oil companies.

He doesn’t get the Winston Churchills or the Michael Jordans or the Thomas Edisons of the world.  Destiny gets those.  And she loves her job while Fate hates his.  He’s like a government worker who can’t quit and who doesn’t have any opportunities for promotion.

He also has a bunch of rules he has to follow, the most important of which is:

Rule #1: Don’t get involved.

There are also rules about meeting your quotas and not revealing that you’re immortal.  But how Fate would react to these rules and to his relationships and to his existence among modern day humans isn’t something I knew about in advance.

His friendships with Sloth and Gluttony and Karma weren’t in any character sketches.

His five-hundred-year-old grudge with Death just showed up without warning.

His romance with a mortal woman on the Path of Destiny isn’t something I planned out.

And when he breaks Rule #1 and starts altering the fates of his humans, that wasn’t on his original List of Things to Do.

Like I said, there are definite risks you take when you don’t plot out the story.  After all, it’s not always easy to figure out where you’re going if you’re not really sure how to get there.  But I enjoy the process of discovering the story as it unfolds and I hope that translates to the reader enjoying the discovery, as well.

 My name is S.G. Browne and I am a pantser.

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