Wittier Word Weavers

Writers' Club of Whittier


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Pantser. Not Pants, Sir!

Pantser Princess

The other day, at one of our club-sponsored book talk, author Kathleen Harrington mentioned the difference between plotters versus pantsers. You would think she was discussing some sorts of printer used in Manga graphic arts. Ever heard of Pantser Princess?

But the queen of romance, although her job was to paint sexy medieval ladies whose exquisitely-embroidered gowns were meant to reveal rather than conceal, didn’t mean that Pantser. I knew! And if you didn’t, let me speak in plain English. The novelist who plans everything from beginning to end is a plotter. S/he works with an outline, while a pantser is like me. We sit down with nothing concrete and start typing furiously until a story takes form. We are the true artists because our virginal minds conceive from the angels.

Just like what I’m doing right now. I sat down with no preconceived ideas about my blog topic until suddenly, as I and my fingers clickaty-clack along like a choo-choo train through deserted tracks, a form appears in the fog and lies down on those very tracks my fingers are choo chooing along. Kazaam! Unlike the train, I didn’t try to brake. Au contraire! My fingers take off in a hot race against multiple thoughts that threaten to dissolve into emptiness, thoughts that distract as well as interesting ones whose faces I long to uncover, running so breathlessly behind. Clang, clang, my fingers, the three or four that take charge, bounce along quickly across the keyboard, until I catch up to the faceless thought, or thoughts. It will be much more difficult if I catch up to too many of them, because they all turn in different directions, all quivering and wanting to slip away as I’m preoccupied with the other. It is almost impossible to force them to sit down in one group and behave like one loving family. They are a bunch of energetic thought bunnies. Even with seven pairs of hands it would be hard to catch them all and not lose any of them thought bunnies.

But one kicking and screaming bunny is enough to feed my whole village.

In the end, I’ll wipe my greasy hands on my pants and lick my chops satisfied. That’s why they call people like me pantsers.