Thursday, December 22, 2016

Westside Writers Mingle November 2016 Recap: Pantsers vs Plotters—Techniques to Get Into Your Writing

by Laurie Young

Taking an informal survey of the room, we discovered that we ran the full gamut of pure pantsers to hybrid pantser/plotters and all the way to dedicated plotters and outliners. Some used both techniques at different stages of their process, either starting out completely blind and then developing an outline after the first draft was done, or starting with a detailed outline and then letting the writing veer off as needed, during the revision process.

Many great tips were shared, such as:

  • Write a letter from the perspective of your character telling about their life and story, rather than writing a synopsis.
  • Use the character’s choices and wants to determine what happens next.
  • Free write around a difficult scene, trying it from each character’s point-of-view.
  • Rewrite a scene from your story from the antagonist’s point of view, as if he is the hero.
  • To open your mind—take a walk and note observations along the way. Pick 5 things observed and write a 20-word sentence about each (do not go over the word count). Pick 1 sentence and write a short story from it.

At the end of the evening, both pantsers and plotters shared great ideas for bridging the gap and using techniques from both camps to further their writing.

Some resources:
The Plot Whisperer books

Westside Writers Mingle October 2016 Recap: Writer's Block and Fear

by Rebecca Light 

The October Lit Mingle carried out its own Halloween tradition by discussing something truly scary—writer’s block. We began our circle of introductions with where we found ourselves on the spectrum of writer’s block—a “1” being the magical unicorns who never experience writer’s block, and a “10” being the extreme sufferers. The group landed all over the spectrum. What we discovered through this exercise was that we have varying definitions of writer’s block.
For some, writer’s block represents the time-honored experience of staring at a blank page; for others it can be the frustration of not knowing where your story goes next. One mingler shared notes from a blog by Mary Robinette Kowal, who broke down the concept into four categories: drowsy, staring, restless, and dithering.
Writer’s block can be external (the story presents the challenge) or internal (something going on with you presents the challenge). While the former is a frustrating aspect of the writing process, many of us identified with the latter being an all-too-common foe.
An interesting discussion sprung out of a quote shared from The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield:
“Because when we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen. A process is set into motion by which, inevitably and infallibly, heaven comes to our aid. Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose.”
There’s no universal fix for writer’s block or the fears that accompany any artistic endeavor, but remember—the pen is mightier than the sword. Keep writing.