Katherine Mankiller


A farewell to pantsing?
May 12, 2007, 3:12 pm
Filed under: writing mysticism

If I look back over the stories I think have been the most successful and easiest to write, they have something in common. A sense of structure. Even before I wrote the first word I had some idea of the story’s structure.
It’s a lot easier to write that way than to come in later and add structure so something vague and nebulous and fuzzy. (The hurricane story, alas.)
The easiest, in a sense, was “The Last Wasicu.” I spent time before writing asking myself, “What kind of story can I tell with this premise? Who should the story be about?” Things like that. I think “The Last Wasicu” benefitted from NaNoWriMo, where I tried to plan, too.
Of course, the actual outlining thing didn’t work very well, in the sense of estimating how much space everything should take. I kind of blew through the outline in the first 10,000 words. But it had enough structure that I was good for the rest of the novel.
The hurricane story was started long before NaNoWriMo, and I just started writing and ended up where I ended up. That’s interesting and satisfying during the drafting, but it’s hell when I go to edit. On the other hand, having a vague structure in mind doesn’t preclude surprising myself, which is fun!
So, note to self. No more pantsing without a structure.

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