That was, perhaps, the oddest title for an article I have ever written. How to write fiction with your pants on?
Oddly, though, it is completely appropriate for the topic at hand, which is, do you write fiction with an outline? Or are you the type of writer that tends to fly by the seat of your pants?
There really is a big debate in writing circles about which one of these methods one should use to write fiction.
Many people completely swear by the Pantser methodology. This is where you get an idea for a story, perhaps even a bit of the plot in your head, and you just sit down at the keys and start typing.
Whatever happens, happens; you just write as the ideas come and the story that is laid out is your brand new baby.
Others are more of the mind that outlining the story is the way to go, and some folks will even SO fully outline their story that their outline looks more like a full-sized book than anything else.
The idea here, of course, is that you leave very little to chance. Everything is planned and you just write out the words that fit into that outline the best. Some folks, again, take it to such an extreme that nothing else that comes to mind will even go into the story.
I used to be a full-on Pantser, myself. Most of the time, I would get an idea-seed in the form of the first sentence of the story I would usually let it germinate inside my subconscious for a little while before sequestering myself away in my little room and begin tapping away.
This worked quite well for me, overall – at least, for a time.
However, life does as life does and started to creep into my writing time. I found myself being distracted away from the story at-hand and, when I could find time to write again, I would find that what I had been writing and STOPPED at would wind up being the end of the stream of great words I could write.
I’d lose it, completely. The story would just go POOF and never be thought of again.
As you can imagine, such a thing is very frustrating. Perhaps you have experienced it for yourself. It’s sad to lose track of what could have been something really great.
I had to do something different.
I came across some really good ideas on how to outline well, and studied them in-depth. Eventually I was able to come up with my own outlining ideas which worked for me.
I guess you could say at this point I am a hybrid. I am still a Pantser, when it comes to short stories, since those are things I can generally write out in one sitting, especially if the idea REALLY sits well with me.
However, when it comes to more elaborate plans, like novellas or full scale novels, I now outline. I do still enjoy the stream of consciousness that comes from the outlining process, and the way I outline gives freedom of movement within the story arcs to allow that to happen, as well.
But I no longer feel as out of control of my stories as I once did. I have learned to adapt things over time to give me the best motion in the story lines and follow the beats as they may come to mind.
Perhaps something like this is what you could do, as well. Hybridize yourself to something that fits well with what your style is, and you might find you stop the loss of ideas and allow all of your mind-kids to grow fully.