The Ultimate Pansting Test and February Challenge

It’s an old, tired question:  planner or panster?  Well, I have always had the feeling I leaned toward panster.  I certainly don’t plan as much as my friends.  Last year I gave myself the ultimate pansting test:  I began a novel with little more than the five main characters and a log line.  I was going to completely let my self go and completely wing it.  I was going to write whatever scene I felt like writing.  I was going to add whatever I felt like adding.

And I did.  For two months all the way until I finished the last scene.  Albeit, there were a lot of gaps and untidied sub plots.

OK, so that was an understatement.  Characters were erratic, sub plots were excessive, gaps were absolutely everywhere, and the main story line was hard to find under all the mess.  Yay for pansting!  I’ll compare pansting and planning some other time. . . when I can speak for planning.

And that brings us to the February Challenge.  I hereby declare February to be Fix Your Messy Novel that Doesn’t Have a Chance Month.  Hey, if there can be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, surely Fix Your Messy Novel that Doesn’t Have a Chance Month is reasonable!  This coming February, you (yes, I’m dragging you into this) and I shall prove once and for all messy novels can indeed be cleaned.  In preparation, drag out the worst manuscript you have.   No, not the one you wrote when you were 10.  The one you wrote in the last two years that you’ve never gotten around to fixing because it was “too terrible.”

Congratulations, terrible manuscripts of my blog readers, you are going to be fixed.  Here is the Official How To Survive Fix Your Messy Novel that Doesn’t Have a Chance Month.  You are hereby commanded to tweak it as necessary.

1.  Glaze over the manuscript.  Don’t read it all the way through – you don’t want to get discouraged – but familiarize yourself with the plot (or lack thereof) and subplots and characters and twists and setting.

2.  Write a logline.  Write a short synopsis.  Write an outline, complete with subplots.  Write character sheets.  These will be invaluable.

3.  Fill in any gaps in your novel and add any passages your new outline demands.  Or combine characters.  Or something else your novel needs.  For example, mine desperately needs more technology.

4.  Cut any now-useless huge chunks from your novel.

5.  Cut out any references to those now-deleted scenes, characters, etc.

6.  Begin your normal editing process.  I’ll post more about this soon.

Now to get Vanya to announce this on Holy Worlds.  She can’t fail to now that I’ve announced it to the world.  Who’s with me?


About Kathrine Roid

I'm an science fiction and fantasy author living in Texas with an undead parakeet and teleporting cat. Think about that for a moment.

Posted on January 29, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I like this: “familiarize yourself with the plot (or lack thereof)”.

  2. But I’ve only finished 2 novels, and I think they are just fine! Can I work on an abbandoned WIP? It has about 2k typed, and about 40 pages hand written. Does that count?

  3. Okay! I will join you. If I’m doing this with someone else, maybe I’ll be motivated to work on Minds more. 🙂

    *runs off to work on her Snowflake outline*

  4. I… am a panster… *blush* I may be partially joining you. February is a busy month for me though. And I’m writing a novel this month. Anyway, I will be going over some of my old stories.

  5. Hm… my friend could be quite happy with what you are about to do Katage….

  6. ~
    XD, Jon. Well, this is about fixing Messy Novel that Don’t Have a Chance! I had to add that!
    Well, the idea was to fix extremely messy first drafts, Louisa. Sounds like you just need to write a lot, which, knowing you, won’t be much of a problem! Do you have a WIP that is almost finished? The goal here is to do editing.
    I remember Minds, Dani! Snowflake outline, eh? Serious girl.
    There’s always time for editing, Nick. 🙂 Partially joining is better than not joining at all!
    Sure, go ahead and tell your friend, Vil!

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