I had a vampire tale going, and much of the story revolved around a murder. Actually, four murders. I had written a mystery before that seemed to work, and I had pantsed that one, too. You know, make it up as you go along. No outline. No plotting far ahead. For me, part of the fun of pantsing comes from the process.
Process? What process? I thought you said you were a pantser.
Well, something happens, and I’m gonna call it my process. It starts with an idea, of course, and this one began with the notion of murdering vampires. Since they are “the undead,” how do you do that? Well, I wanted to find out. And I decided to call them unmurders.
You heard that right. I was writing an unmurder mystery.
Before beginning the actual storytelling, my, ahem, process involves amassing pages and pages of single-spaced notes of scenes, of things that need to happen, the nature of my protagonists, the antagonistic characters, the jeopardy and peril I’ll cause for my characters, the ending, etc. For this book, the amassing part of the process stretched over a year as I had lots of editing and book-design work going on at the same time–but I was finally free to write.
When I knew what needed to happen, the next part of the pantsing process was to write the scenes in order to learn how they happened. Away I went . . .
But then came an uh-oh moment.
Not enough gas in the tank.
Welp, I was at about 35,000 words and the number and nature of the future events that I had imagined (not outlined, just listed as future events) felt a little on the lean side. I did a quick investigation of how many words went into each of the major scenes that had already been written, applied an average word count to the events that were to come, and it sure looked like I would run out of story before I had a novel, word-count wise.
What to do? I was having too much fun with the story to abandon it. It was time to kick my pantser muse back into action.
For me, this is another time when pantsing is fun because it’s, well, creative. I needed to add length to the story with a logical, meaningful way to extend it, not pad existing scenes. And to increase the pressure on my characters with more and more going wrong.
So what I did was . . . [Read more…]