Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Guest Article: Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

We’re Plotters Out of Necessity 

by Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl, authors of Merged

There’s an outgoing debate between Plotters and Pantsers. Plotters outline their manuscript prior to touching the keyboard. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants, meaning they rely on stream of consciousness to create the story. J.K. Rowling is a Plotter and Stephen King is the penultimate Pantser.

After comparing notes at writers conferences, it seems that most writers who are working on their first manuscript are Pantsers. We were, and we believe it’s an important part of the writer’s journey. A new writer needs to discover the joy of watching the characters come to life, and be astounded at the unexpected flashes of brilliance. The thought of first plotting every chapter would intimidate many new writers to the point where they’d give up before even starting.

As Pantsers, we threw away months of work because the story took interesting turns, but not ones which necessarily drove the story forward. But, this writing helped hone our craft. In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell discovered that what the best-of-the-best have in common is they’ve achieved ten thousand hours of experience. We consider all those deleted pages as our path toward ten thousand hours of writing.

Now, we’re Plotters. We have a large corkboard hanging on the wall, and we use index cards. One card per chapter or scene. We start out with white cards, and after we’ve written the first draft for that chapter, we change the card to a color. It tracks our progress, and provides a sense of accomplishment. Most of our cards only contain ten to fifteen words, just enough to jog our memory about what is supposed to happen in that scene. This method keeps our story on track, but isn’t so binding that we lose the inspiration. It also helps in pacing and recognizing a sagging middle.

Also, since we write together, being Plotters is a necessity. Since we divide the work, we have to be in agreement as to what needs to happen when, and importantly, how the story is supposed to end. It also keeps the dreaded writer’s block at bay. We grab a card, lay it by our computers, and that’s our homework for the day.

Our young adult science fiction novel Merged is being released on September 17, 2019 by Month9Books. Visit us at www.jimandstephbooks.com.

About Merged:

Seven of our country’s most gifted teens will become Nobels, hosts for the implantation of brilliant Mentor minds, in an effort to accelerate human progress. But as the line between what’s possible and what’s right, draws ever blurrier, the teens discover everything has a cost.

Scientists have created an evolved form of living known as Merged Consciousness, and 16-year-old Lake finds herself unable to merge with her Mentor. Lake, the Nobel for Chemistry and Orfyn, the Nobel for Art, are two from among the inaugural class of Nobels, and with the best intent and motivation.

But when Stryker, the Nobel for Peace, makes them question the motivation of the scientists behind the program, their world begins to unravel. As the Nobels work to uncover the dark secrets of the program’s origins, everyone's a suspect and no one can be trusted, not even the other Nobels. As the Mentors begin to take over the bodies and minds of the Nobels, Lake and Orfyn must find a way to regain control before they lose all semblance or memory of their former selves.

Click here to order your copy!