Thursday, May 10, 2012

Outline or Panster?

  If you stopped by yesterday, then you know I reviewed J.H. Bográn's short story, The Assassin's Mistress. Well, he's here today to take my place while I’m over at The Blood-Red Pencil talking about taking control of your writing. Before I run off, let me tell you a bit about J. H. Bográn.

José was born and raised in Honduras and is the son of a journalist. He writes thrillers, with a twist of romance added in. His works include novels in both English and Spanish, and short stories. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator.

In addition to The Assassin's Mistress, he's written Treasure Hunt, The Outpost, and Love Me Two Times.

You can find J.H. Bográn online and on Facebook, as well as Twitter (@JHBogran).

Now, I've got to run before folks over at The Blood-Red Pencil run amok.

Please welcome J. H. Bográn.

Outline or Pantser? That is the question!

Do you plot out your work or are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of writer?

Although I’m friends with both types of authors, I have to say I’m a little bit of both. Depending on the length of the work that I’m writing, I can decide if I can just wing it or I need a plan.

When it comes to short stories, I prefer a simple process. Whenever the muse whispers the idea in my ear or I think it up out of thin air, I rush to write it down before it goes away. Because of day job or other obligations, I really can’t sit and write just whenever I hear the voices. I do pay attention, make little notes, but it is until the dead of night, in my study, where I put pen to paper and write the story. In short stories I don’t plot for long, I just go with the flow.

When I write a novel I need to know in advance all the plot twists so I can plant the little tale tells or clues that second-time readers love to find. I do this because I am one such type of reader. Basically, I make a chapter list on a excel file, there I include the chapter number, what it will be about and on whose character’s Point of View. I color code the POV’s so at a glance I can see the balance between the two or three characters. Since I write thrillers, multiple points of views are almost a prerequisite. : - ) The chapter list also allows me to write in order when I’m in the mood or jump back and forth if I feel particularly strong about a scene.

Of course, the list is not set in stone. Scenes change, move around and disappear. Sometimes I even need to add chapters. Still, it is easier to reach your treasured END if you have a treasure map; or so I’ve learned from all those pirate movies.

The other thing is that in both cases, if I catch myself smiling while I’m typing it means the story is going in the right direction. I used to feel joyous when this occurred. However, recent incidents have taught me to be careful. The smiling makes me sloppy, so the more smiling I go, the worst my grammar/sentencing gets! Thus, I have to be careful when I smile because it means I’d need to be a whole lot more of revising afterwards.

How do you write?


  1. Your post isn't up yet, but I'll try to check back later.
    And I am an outliner for sure.

  2. I've never used a treasure map. Maybe I should try it some day. Joyous. I like that word. That's the way I feel when I'm writing and the writing is good. Joyous. Thank you. I have to read your new novel.

  3. I have a similar way of writing a novel and use MS Word tables to give a brief review of each chapter. I like the idea of color coding characters though. Great post.

  4. Loved the comment about smiling, why not, enjoy, you know when you are succeeding and you can always tighten later. :0)

  5. I think it's so interesting that being organized can release your creative side!

  6. I outline but I think I'm also a panster as I'm always all of the place, writing parts here and there and jumping all over the place.

  7. In life I'm a very organized person, but in writing I'm a loose cannon with no apparent rhyme or reason as to what I'm doing. I might need to try outlines to achieve chapter goals. Good post

  8. I love that feeling when you realize you're smiling as you type!

    I'm mostly a pantster - but I do like to have a glimmer of that end scene in my head, so I guess I have tendencies of both :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...