If you've been following me for a while, you'll know that I've never hid the fact that I'm a major Pantser! For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, it refers to a someone who doesn't plan out anything before they begin writing. No character sheets, no plot outline, no world building, nothing!
In other words, they write by the seat of their pants and let the story take them where it will.
For me, this is the only way I can write. I feel too restricted creating outlines or doing any sort of planning, and writing becomes a slow and extremely frustrating process. That being said, it can be difficult to remain organized as a Pantser, and it's easy to see how inconsistencies could become a problem.
Over the years, I've discovered 5 things that help me stay organized while writing and keep the inconsistencies to a minimum.
Check out these 5 tips for Pantsers!
- Ideas Folder: Before you begin writing, create a folder (either physical or on your computer) to house any ideas, notes, or inspiration photos you might have. I print out any inspiration photos that I feel I might like to reference frequently while writing. I also jot down my main story idea, along with any ideas I have for characters, places, magic, etc. It's nothing elaborate, and it's not in outline form, but it gives me easy access to what inspired the story as I begin to write. Your 'Ideas Folder' will become increasingly more important as you get further along in your writing process!
- Take Notes As You Write: Get in the habit of writing down important details regarding characters, magic systems, worlds, etc. as you go. Did you make Joe have blue eyes? Make a note and stick it in your folder. Can Tracy only use her magic at night? Make a note. Did Fred die? Make a note! Did it take Lawrence 2 weeks to travel from one location to another? Write it down! I can't begin to emphasize how important this is in regards to minimizing inconsistencies and how much of a headache it will save you later on! There's not much worse than forgetting you killed off a character and writing 20,000 words in the next book with them alive and well. (Yes, I've done that. And yes, it sucks. So now, all of my folders have a 'DEAD PEOPLE' list.)
- Create An Outline As You Write: Create a brief outline as you make your way through the manuscript. Each time you finish a chapter, write down a basic description of what happened, and break it apart by scene. It's extremely helpful during the writing and editing processes to have a brief outline at hand for a quick reference. If you use a program like Scrivener, this is partially done for you, but make sure to add a description to the info for each scene!
- Create A Map: This only pertains to those of you writing in fictional worlds, such as Fantasy or Sci-Fi, but drawing a map (no matter how crude) can be extremely helpful in keeping things like timing and distance, directional cues, topography, and weather patterns consistent. As you progress through your story and build your world, add features such as countries/cities, mountains, rivers, forests, etc. to your map. Having a visual reference when writing about various aspects of your world can be a total game-changer!
- Create Pinterest Boards: I'm relatively new to the whole Pinterest thing, but I've found it to be quite helpful while writing my Urban Fantasy book, The Door. I created a board for the the series Balance Of Time and pin images of the characters, their clothing, their pendants, and details of the door. It not only gives me visuals to help with descriptions, but it's also a fun way for followers to learn more about the book, characters, and series!
I like to think of these 5 steps as allowing Pantsers a way to plan as they go! Implementing some or all of these tips will help my fellow Pantsers remain sane and cut down on time wasted searching through 50,000 words to find a certain detail.
Are you a Pantser? What does your writing process look like? What tips do you use to stay organized and consistent? Share in the comments!
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