Pantser or Planner?
Blog post by Iris Carden
Theoretically, there are two kinds of author: those who write by the seat of their pants, and those who plan out where the story is going. I’ve always been a pantser.
For most of my books, I’ve just had a vague idea and written whatever came into my head. Muse, for example, began as a much shorter story. I wrote as I thought of it, and published the story. Then, years later, I realised it wasn’t finished. There were things I’d always intended to include, but because I hadn’t planned, I’d left them out completely. I finally finished the story, and republished it under its current name.
For my children’s picture books, Fred Flamingo Wants to Dance, and The Wallaby Detectives and the Tomato Sauce Mystery, I used stories I made up for my kids on camping trips many years ago. Those stories were each based on a single idea, and I let the story work itself around the idea as I told it. For Fred Flamingo, the idea was a very bad pun. For the Wallaby Detectives, it was a crime suitable for a small children: a meat pie without tomato sauce is always a crime. (Sorry to people overseas, I realise Australians may be the only people who understand this.)
Most of my other books basically just happened. Usually they went in the direction I thought they were going to go. An exception is Group Meeting, which didn’t end up where I thought it was going, but in my mind at least, was better than the original idea.
I’m doing something different right now. I’m writing the sequel to Wendy Watchitt, and I have an actual written plan. I know exactly where this story is going, because when the idea came to me, it wasn’t just a simple idea, it came to me as a whole complete story.
After years as a pantser, I’m becoming a planner.