On Being a Pantser…

Yes, I wear pants when I write. For one thing my office is in the basement, surrounded on two sides by concrete and really doesn’t get much heat so I would get very cold and distracted if I wasn’t properly dressed sometimes including a hat and gloves.

What is meant by the term “Pantser?” It means I write by the seat of my pants. When I sit down to write for the day I look at my “Cast of Characters” and decide which of the characters I’m going to torment while driving the story forward. I really have no clue what I’m going to write otherwise.

For me, it’s quite liberating as I can let the characters take the story where ever it needs to go. Another really cool thing is being the first person to read what I’ve written and see the characters come alive. But it requires a specialized sort of discipline to keep the story on track while not writing things really not relevant to the novel and series.

Being a pantser isn’t for everyone. I have writing friends who first write extremely detailed outlines and then flesh out the story as they go along really needing to know where the story goes as it progresses. That’s them and if it works, by all means. But I’ve tried it and it is very, very limiting as I would want to stick to the outline even if the characters want to take the story in a completely different direction.

I tell people I typically write the first line of a book and than the last line. This is true and not just some line I made up to cage free drinks from my friends and fans. From there I write the novel between those two goal posts. And what a wild ride it can be!

If you decide to adopt this mental challenge of being a writer, don’t buy any “How to Write” books. Instead buy a couple of grammar books. Then you need to figure out your own way of starting a story and finishing it all the way to the very end. It might be as an “outliner” or “pantser” or some variation in between. No matter, do what works for you.

As the Dauntless series continue I may very well have to adopt more structure in my writing style. Despite being a great deal of work if outlining allows me to finish the series effectively I’ll happily adopt it.

Thank you all for reading. Please take a moment and look at the books I’ve reviewed as I’ve discovered more than a few gems which might interest you.

JF Collins

(Pantser for now!)


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