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  • Writer's pictureLaura L. Zimmerman

3 Things I’ve Learned from Pantsing

I was swimming at 6:30 this morning. 


Ok, not really, but it sure felt like it. That’s because the characters in my book made the snap decision to hop in a pond and cool off. I hadn’t planned on this. In fact it doesn’t even really add to the plot. But I found myself writing it, anyway. Ultimately, it was something they would do. At that exact moment, on that exact day, they would have seen that pond and would have decided it was time for some fun. So they did. It also lent an opportunity for a couple of the characters to get closer and learn to trust one another. Win/win, if you ask me. 

I realized this never would have happened if I’d planned this book out like I do all my others. As I’ve said in a recent post, I’m most definitely a ‘plotter’. I plan and plan and plan, until I can’t think of anything else that could possibly happen to the characters or in the plot. Then I start writing.


This whole ‘pantsing’ thing has definitely changed my perspective on a few things. Here are just a couple lessons I’ve learned in the few short weeks I’ve devoted to writing this book:

1. It’s easier to keep the character’s personality consistent. Sometimes I have a hard time deciding if something my character did is in line with the personality I’ve given him. In most of my previous manuscripts, I’ve taken care to review each scene and evaluate whether a character’s reaction was what their personality would allow or if it was contrary to who they were as an individual. But when the character is directing the flow of the book, it’s easier to think about what would come naturally for him/her. What would the next decision be for him, not for the plot? 

2. There’s a lot more conversation. As a pantser, I’m not always thinking about getting to the next scene in the plot, as much as allowing the characters take the reader to the next scene, often with more dialogue than I would have planned. Not that the entire book is one big conversation. But there have been deeper discussions than would’ve been allowed if I’d plotted this book out, simply because they came naturally to the characters and their actions. I’ve found there have been many meaningful things the characters have had to say, now that I’ve allowed them the privilege of saying them.

3. I’m not so worried about the plot. Since I’m allowing the characters to ‘drive’, I’m not always worrying about when they will arrive at the next point, or even if they ever will. The characters and the decisions they make are more important. Excitement and trials will find them eventually – there’s no reason for me to rush them into those situations. Allowing the characters the opportunity to find that action, is more fun.


What about you? Have you tried a new writing technique out recently? What lesson(s) have you learned? Feel free to leave a comment below and share your experiences!

Happy reading, friends!

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