Tag Archives: pantser

An Ode to Fanfiction

I first started really writing when I was probably about thirteen or fourteen, and it was fanfiction for the Legend of Zelda video game series. My first story was horrendous.

My second story wasn’t too bad and, while I have definitely have improved with my writing skills since then, it was well-received by those that cared to review and tell me they enjoyed it. It was a long story, one that a pantser like me probably shouldn’t have embarked on without a plan regarding the length, and it was inevitably dropped when life obligations got in the way of fanfiction writing.

Still, writing the fanfiction was fun, and I even dabble in it nowadays by handwriting in fun notebooks. I also read fanfiction whenever I find myself dissatisfied with the idea that the book or game I had just completed is over.

Fanfiction is amazing to me. Here are novel-length works printed online for free by some very talented writers. With fanfiction, bad scenes can be fixed, characters be saved (Fred Weasley, anyone?), a setting can be explored and expanded with a mere set of 26 letters all rearranged in various ways. Not only can these stories, these expanded works for some favorite franchises and series, be fascinating, but the capacity of a writer’s imagination just blows me away.

Here are people that love a story so much that they are compelled to share what else might have happened after the back cover was closed, what could have happened had the villain defeated the hero or if the hero got lost or if the sidekick had been the star of the show or if this side character had joined the party–

The possibilities are endless when it comes to stories, and fanfiction writers are brilliant for sharing.

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Posted by on June 29, 2017 in Home


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First Drafts

dd53ff6f94882fde95239f4e52ae57fdWhat do your first drafts look like? Do they tend to be fat with every little thought about your story that you could fit into the draft? Or are your first drafts skimpier, just using enough words to tell yourself the skeleton of the story so you can embellish it later?

I suppose it comes down to your editing style as well. Perhaps you prefer to rewrite everything, having the first draft as a recipe to follow in terms of plot and character, and using your rewrite to add in all of the details for the flavor. Maybe you’re the type to take a butcher knife to your overloaded first draft, willing to cut out all of the unnecessary parts that may have found their way into the draft for the ride.

I tend to just write my first drafts as a pantser, in all honesty. Going off on tangents, meeting new characters that may take the story in a new direction, not entirely sure where the plot line will take us… I love it. You would think that my first drafts tend to be wordy with tons of detours, but there are plenty of times when my first drafts don’t seem long enough to tell the story I want to hear.

Perhaps my subconscious knows more about my work-in-progress drafts than I do.


Posted by on June 26, 2017 in Home


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Character Sheets

Does anyone use character sheets?

I’m running with this mini theme of characters for these past few posts. In addition to just naming our characters, there’s also plenty of other information that’s good to know about them. A physical description, their family and home life, what they would do if they met an alien, things like that.

There are plenty of character sheets — detailed lists that ask about every possible facet of your character — out there flying around the web, many that boast you’ll have a “fully fleshed-out character” by the time you’re done filling the questionnaire out.

I don’t quite agree with that.

Of course, the character sheets can definitely be helpful with keeping certain details of your character straight, but I don’t think a laundry list of miscellaneous favorites (color, food, shirt, etc.) is as important as their psyche. I personally feel that I cannot fully understand my characters until I’ve written them in all sorts of scenarios. I know their basic motivations and relationships to other characters at the beginning of the story, but I can’t know how the character will react to, say, seeing their rival kingdom topple to a dangerous enemy enough to add it to a character sheet.

This could also be the pantser in me, and I know that character sheets can and do work for many writers. I’m not one for outlines, which apparently include character sheets. I jot down basic notes about each character before diving into a story, but I leave the decision as to which path down the story they want to take. Some enjoy the nice, paved road while others will gallivant toward the leaf-strewn path in a dark forest. I’m just along to record their journey.


Posted by on October 20, 2016 in Home


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Prep Work

So, NaNoWriMo is around the corner. Just a few more weeks, in fact. Do you know what you’re going to write?

I have a vague idea as to what I’m writing with a cast of great characters (some that still need names, actually). It’s fantasy-ish, of course, and there’ll probably be dragons because why not?

Anyways, as the lot of you may know, I’m quite a pantser when it comes to writing. Meaning, I don’t do too well with outlines or planning too much ahead in my stories. I’m usually lucky if I have a clear ending in mind rather than just a muddled picture. I focus a lot on characters and their development, and they’re usually pretty good sports about pointing me in the right direction as I type away at their stories.

Out of curiosity, though, any of you plotters out there have some simple outlining tips? How do you make sure you stay on course with your stories, especially during the fast-paced, no-backspace month of NaNoWriMo?

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Posted by on October 11, 2016 in Home


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Plotting Methods

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Posted by on July 13, 2016 in Home


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Camp NaNoWriMo April 2016


Brace yourselves… Camp NaNo is coming.

Right around the corner is Camp NaNoWriMo. Are you prepared?

I’m not. I never am. Rachel actually asked me the other day if I was signing up and it took me a few minutes to realize that, hey, Camp is less than a month away. I quickly made a novel profile on the site, currently titled “Untitled,” and joined the same cabin as my sister that Jen so graciously invited me in.

I’m thinking of continuing some of my other novels that I’ve already started. However, the spirit of NaNo is to start a completely new work, and I tend to enjoy doing that as well.

Like usual, I’ll probably end up making a decision the second before I start typing to add to my NaNo word count, haha!

Are you ready for NaNo?


Posted by on March 8, 2016 in Home


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Outlining 101

If my local community college ever created a class called “Outlining 101,” I would be the first to sign up. My sister Rachel has always outlined her novels whenever she had started writing, while I am a pantser, as I’ve mentioned several times on this blog. There is no right way to write a novel, in my opinion, but outlines are nice to have as a map for the story.

With that said, I’m trying to figure out different ways to create some sort of outline for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m really excited about my story idea, and I just want to start writing the damn thing already, but I’m also worried about the story fizzling out. With the rush to write so many words in so little days, I know from experience that the first week excitement can quickly turn into the second week dread. Generally, I free write a rambling blurb for my “outlines,” to try to get my thoughts in order, but this time I did an online search on simple novel outlines.

Holy sugar in a hand basket, there are so many different questions and exercises one can ask and do in order to figure out what direction one’s story is heading. One website asked me to “say what the goal of my story was.” I don’t know, I haven’t written it yet. A second site mentioned listing the forewarnings of the story’s main events. How can I have forewarnings if I’m not sure of the main events? Isn’t that what an outline is for? Another site, amid the usual protagonist goals and setting questions, said if you have a blank spot in the outline, just write “sex.” Uh, my main character is an artificial intelligence… Not sure if he has a sex drive.

One of the search results actually linked me to a 6-month old post on the official NaNoWriMo forums. It was a fairly simple outline that the original author had created and was based as a goal a day for the 30-day writing challenge:

  1. Intro Normal Life > Who is the Main Character, place, time, world.
  2. I Know What I Want > What do they want in life, goal, dream.
  3. I’m Getting What I Want > What’s their plan, how’s it happening right now?
  4. Inciting Incident > Their plan is ruined by something outside their control.
  5. I’m Not Getting What I Want > They take in what’s happened, reacting emotionally.
  6. Why Did This Happen > They examine their process and consider how to get back up.
  7. Enter Exotic World > Because of whatever happened in 4, they are thrown into an EW.
  8. I Wanna Go Home >They are in shock, wanting or trying to get back to the old world.
  9. I Can’t Go Home > They come to the conclusion, that they can’t go back, and look around.
  10. Woah- WAIT > They become distracted by the new surroundings, then remember their goal.
  11. Enemy Enter > They discover the new antagonist, that will keep them from their goal here.
  12. What Now > Depressed about enemy, personal goal, but wondering what to do.
  13. This May Work > They explore, make friends, maybe unwillingly. Consider options for goal.
  14. This Isn’t So Bad > They’ve accepted the new world, the friends, the goals, enjoy themselves.
  15. Enemy Strikes > The enemy threatens their new world/personal goal/something.
  16. Main Character Fights > The recovery and Main Character decides they won’t stand for this.
  17. Who’s With Me > Main and supporting characters, band together to take a stand.
  18. Gear Up > They plan and prepare, for journey/battle/some stand, considering what they know.
  19. On The Road > They push through, band together, solve problems, put aside differences.
  20. Enemy Plays > The enemy plays at their weak points, threatening their bond and stand.
  21. We Can Do This > They come through, feeling beaten, but band together and agree to push.
  22. Push > They push themselves to be the best they can be and continue on toward the final.
  23. The Enemy’s Lair > They arrive at the enemies front yard, planning, training, observing.
  24. Crisis > They move their plans to action and things don’t go as planned. Their lowest point.
  25. What Went Wrong > Main Character considers their fault, discovering it was their first prob.
  26. Can’t Give Up > They make their plan for their final ditch-effort to take down the enemy.
  27. Climax > They put this final plan into action, it seems to be going well.
  28. We Can Do This* > They in almost shock at their success continue pushing through in a daze.
  29. Victory > They defeat, save, and/or reach their final goal, being victorious. Notable lesson.
  30. Resolution > Wrap up the lose ends- go home/review lesson learned/reconcile relationships.

As previously stated, this outline has an original author that is not me. I thought I would share it, in case others need a thought-provoking, simple outline. There’s room in this outline for flexibility (and, as another person on the forum thread said, “Be willing to add ninjas at a moment’s notice, if necessary.”), something that works for me.

After all, if I’m going to use an outline to create a map for my story, my map has enough room for spontaneous detours.


Posted by on March 11, 2015 in Home


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