There’s a popular belief in the fantasy writer community that fantasy is too difficult to write without planning. By planning, they mean plotting it out before you start writing. The most often cited example of this if George RR Martin and his A Song of Ice and Fire series, which hasn’t seen a new instalment in, what, 10 years? Objectively, they’re good books with complex characters and worldbuilding, but when it takes that long between books…
Not like I can judge. I mean, right now there’s a 6 year gap between Path of the Sorceress and Path of the Master. In my defence, I’ve written other things in that time and then gone back to work on PotM. I hope to have a first draft done on that sometime in 2021. But I digress.
I am of the firm belief that it’s fine to pants your writing. It’s fine to plan out your writing. I don’t think it’s ok to shame other writers for the writing style that works for them. Some people can organize things in their head better. Some need to write it out. Both methods have merit. Personally, I’ll shame GRRM until the end of time, because really? Really?
Myself? I always considered myself a proud pantser. I still do. I recently came across the term plantser. I was describing the process I used to create the linking elements in Stars of Destiny and author Jenna Moreci described me as such. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before, but it’s fairly accurate to my writing method. I’ll plan out key details but leave the rest up to how things flow while I’m writing. In the case of the aforementioned book, I wanted the first 4 books in the series to have running links, so I had to know in advance who the ultimate Big Bad was, how they linked to the ones in the other books, who all the Hero characters were, what order they’d show up in, and side characters. I hope you paid attention to some of the names of those seemingly random characters because a few become super duper important later on in the series. If you’ve read them, you may know which characters I’m talking about. Yes, that was planned.
Sometimes I get stuck with what I’m writing so I’ll sit down with my trusty pen and paper and write out what’ll happen next.
But wait! Wouldn’t you be able to avoid this kind of writer’s block if you’d just planned out your novel?
Um, actually, no. You’d think so, but now. I have a novel trilogy called the Chaos Cycle sitting around on my hard drive, collecting digital dust. This novel is plotted and partially written. I know where the plot is supposed to go. I know where I want it to go. I can’t write the stupid thing. My brain looks at the plot sheet and goes Hey look! You’ve already written this book. You’re done. Plotting is a method that straight up doesn’t work for me. Plantsing, the hybrid of planning and pantsing, is my jam.
It doesn’t matter what writing method you go with. Just write. It doesn’t matter which writing path you take. In this case, it’s the end result that matters. You don’t look at a book in a store or a library and wonder if the author pantsed or planned. You just enjoy the finished product.