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August 15, 2018


          Every book has its plot twists and turns. If you’re an outliner, you map it out ahead of time. You figure out all your surprises well ahead of the game, so as you’re writing, at least to me, it would seem less exciting. The adventures would seem to me, less of an event.


            On the other hand, if you’re a pantser, or a seat-of-the-pants writer, the only thing you know is A and B. That means everything in-between is a total surprise. With that in mind, as you write, you encounter all kinds of surprises, discoveries, plot twists, as long as you never forget your ultimate goal, B.


            Can those plot twists affect the ultimate outcome, B?




            Should they?


            It all depends on what you were trying to accomplish in the first place.




            With any writer, you usually don’t just sit down and start writing. Or, you shouldn’t because more than likely, chaos is going to be the result. There has to be some kind of plan, some at least vague goal in mind.


            There, of course, has to be a starting and ending point.


            If you’re an outliner, of course, before you even sit down to start the writing process, you meticulously map it out from A to B, then depending on how detailed you are to begin with, follow that outline.


            You, as an outliner, don’t just sit down to write. You map it out first. You set your goal, maybe modify it, tweak it, then solidify it as you work through your outline.


            The only surprises you really may get are during the outline process.


            On the other hand, if you’re a pantser, before you sit down, you usually (I hope), have some sort of at least vague idea of where you want to start and end up. What’s the point of sitting down in the first place? It can’t just be to fill in a blank page, can it? Don’t you have some inkling of where you want to go, what you want to put all that effort into in the first place?


            Yup, an A and a B.


            You, as a pantser, have a goal as well, it’s just less defined, and certainly not outlined.




            Whether you outline or write on the fly, you have the end game in mind. So, you write accordingly. Surprise or plan, in either case, things are going to develop along the way you never thought of initially.


            Inspiration may (or may not) hit at the weirdest moments.




            Right at an intense scene, a slow movement area, or just anywhere, anytime, anyplace, the muse will hit you like an anvil falling on your head.


            That big twist that’ll have a huge impact on the story.


            That huge twist that’ll (hopefully) surprise everyone.




            Now that you’ve had that big aha moment, will it fit into the proceedings? Is it going to interrupt the story flow?


            If you’re an outliner, are you going to have to go back to the drawing board, and rework your masterpiece of perfection? Does that mean months of work, retooling, before you can continue writing? Or could it just mean minor tweaks?


            If you’re a pantser, does this mean tweaking B, changing it, or not even worrying about Be at all? At least as a pantser, you don’t have to go back to the drawing board because it’s all in your head!


            Now, if you’re a hybrid writer, a little bit outliner and a little bit pantser, you could be dealing with a mix, of course (don’t want to leave you out, either).




            I was humming along on my latest work and was eating breakfast the other morning (well, “other” is a relative term, it was several weeks ago, now), and a revelation hit me. I got an inspiration for a great plot twist and almost spit out my orange juice.


            I thought about it and how I could use it, and realized I wouldn’t have to do a thing different either to what I’d written so far, nor how it affected B.


            I was good to go, and it gave me chills.


            I hope my readers like it, don’t see through it, and it’s as much a surprise to them as it was to me when I thought of it.


            We’ll see.




            When you think of these aha moments, do whatever it takes to make them work. Don’t look at them as a pain, but at the same time, make sure they really work before you take the plunge.


            Happy writing!




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