I’ve been on dozens of convention panels discussing the differences between “Plotters” and “Pantsers”.
It’s a perennial topic of discussion – what’s the best thing to do when you’re writing a novel? Just dive in and start scribbling and see what happens (Pantser)?
Or plan out every scene beforehand in excruciating detail and do character charts for every character (Plotter)?
If it works for you, it works. Do what works. Don’t listen to anyone
trying to tell you about the One True Way to Write. It doesn’t exist.
But for what it’s worth, I’m someone who finds out what happens by writing the story. I’m a Discovery Writer, an Organic Writer. i.e. a Pantser.
Organic writing. What is it? Does it have rules of its own?
Not really. But here are a few suggestions.
5 Rules for Writing Organically
1) Recognize the seed of a story when it falls into your hand. There will be… something. Don’t worry that you can’t see the shape of the story within when you’re looking at the opaque walls that enclose it – it’ll come.
Like a plant will grow if you plant a seed in the ground. Like me, you won’t know whether it will be a redwood or a kudzu until the first leaves show – but trust the thing. It will be a plant. It will be *a story*. Water it, nurture it, believe in it, and your story will come.
2) Just let it grow, at first. Let it sprout in every direction. Let it grow wild. Let it throw out a plethora of blooms. Not all are fertile; not all will bear fruit. Some branches are going to wither away of their own accord. Others… you can shape and prune later. That’s editing. When you’re WRITING… let it grow, let it go. The story knows what it needs.
3) Research is fabulous – don’t let it take over your life or you’ll never actually WRITE a word of your story for the pure pleasure of learning all about its background.
Experience is great – and yes, sometimes it’ll hurt while you’re getting it. Take the finger you burned on the oven door – take the itch within a plaster cast of a broken bone – take a headache – take a broken heart – distil them into an elixir and water your story with it. You’ll be surprised at what comes.
4) Don’t stop while you’re writing in order to consider a “better” way of saying something. That’s what second drafts are for.
Don’t stop while you’re writing in order to second guess yourself.
Don’t stop while you’re writing… for anything. If you’re deep in the zone, let your fingers do the work, let your mind dictate. You can fix later but until you have the story there’s nothing TO fix
Write the story. Don’t stop writing.
5) Why are you still here?
The most important rule for organic writing is that no matter what I, or anyone else says, there ARE no “five ways” to do it. It’s organic, part of its power is rooted in pure instinct, and is specific to you.
So the one and only “rule” actually is this: do what you need to do in order to tell the story that wants to be told.
No rules, no law. You’re in entropy territory; use it, embrace it. the minute you start cleaving to any particular rule book, you’ve lost the organic edge. Cheating is easy, but pointless.