Am I Still A Pantster?

file1801281015946I wrote the prologue and first two chapters of my new project, tentatively titled Bellanok, with unbelievable ease. Seriously. The total so far is about 4,000 words, and I probably cranked it out in 2-3 hours over a couple of days. But then it happened.

On Saturday, I opened up Scrivener, re-read the last chapter, pulled up the new text page . . . and then nothing. Absolutely nothing. I had no idea what came next. I know it’s not quite time for Fauna to convince Brian to return to Bellanok. A couple of other things have to happen first before he’ll even believe her (right now, he just thinks she’s nuts), and I have no idea what.

I thought about jumping ahead to when he does come to the realization that he’s the savior and agrees to go with Fauna–but then what? I have no clue! This is so weird for me.

I’ve written 3 novels that I would willingly claim (a couple more that I wouldn’t). Each and every time, I did so without an outline, without knowing where the story was going, and with only a vague idea of how it was supposed to end. Half the time, I didn’t even know the characters! And I was still the most prolific writer in the WDC Fiction Writer’s group.

Now, though, I’m staring at a blank page. Nothing. Not a clue. I play around on Facebook and Twitter while I try to brainstorm. I fold clothes with worship music on to inspire me. I. Got. Nothing.

It’s odd to me because before I started writing on Bellanok, Fauna couldn’t keep her mouth shut. I told you how she kept trying to impede on my last project before I was ready for her. She got so annoying, I finally had to jot down most of the prologue so she’d leave me alone long enough to get my WIP ready for my crit group.

Now, I have a prologue and 2 chapters and nowhere to go with it. I wonder what I should do this week? Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • One of Scrivener’s features are character templates. I figured I could start interviewing my characters, find clarity on their GMCs. Find out what makes them tick.
  • Play the “what if” game. I did this with Dividing Spirits a ways back when I got stuck. Granted, I was much further in and needed good filler for the end of the middle. Still, coming up with list of “what if” questions, choosing a couple, and then making “what if” questions to those scenarios. This might give me some direction as far as plot.
  • Outline. *shiver* I despise outlining. It has been the bane of my writing career. However, in the last year or so, I find myself making outlines for articles and blog posts–maybe as I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve developed more of a linear process. Maybe I’m just not the pantster I used to be. Maybe if I try to use an outline this time, I won’t lose interest about 1/3 of the way through.

I’m going to give these a try this week. If worse comes to worse, maybe this novel just hadn’t steamed long enough in my head, and I need to choose another project. Then again, maybe I was just so busy with other projects last week that my muse needed a break by the time I got to my writing. It happens, right?

What do you do when you get stuck?


About Ralene Burke

Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a freelance editor’s sword, or a social media wand, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to make it SHINE! She has worked for a variety of groups, including Realm Makers, The Christian PEN, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and as an editor for a number of freelance clients. Her first novel, Bellanok, is being published as a 4-part serial! When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .

7 comments on “Am I Still A Pantster?

  1. I sit around for two years and wonder if I’m a writer. At least, that’s the pattern so far.

    I would have sworn I was a pantser while writing book one. I couldn’t stop writing, and every scene flowed into the next like a mountain stream finding its way to the sea. Book two was harder, but I blamed that on picking up a half-completed, 13 year old project. I wrote it, but I had to let go of the past outline to find the book’s future.

    Pantser? Seemed so. Now, I think I’d been planning book one for a long time without realizing it. Same for book two.

    The one similarity between both books is I wrote toward a single, amazing scene – to me, the whole point of the book. That scene was my reward, and every prior scene led to it. Once I’d written that scene, the end of the story became obvious.

    For me, it’s not so much an outline as a vision. I have to see the goal before I can write toward it. Otherwise, I’m just writing a “choose your own adventure,” and I hate those.

    • See, I think that amazing scene is what I’m missing here. In all my other novels, I had one of them. You know? Hmm . . . God needs to send me a vision. Now. 😛

  2. I can’t write to an outline. I can write to a single sentence “this is what is going to happen” description. I wrote an entire book off what was supposed to be the first chapter last time. I still have 33 “chapter descriptions” to go, and no time to write the book or books that go with them…

    Getting to know characters is good. Journaling is good. Writing toward an amazing scene is good (like Robynn said). Writing THAT scene, and then going back to fill in the blanks– BAH. I tried that.

    Trying three times to write the story, and each time getting derailed, BAH again…

  3. I had one where I tried to write it a few times, and it kept getting off track or derailed or I lost interest. I have up on it, figured it wasn’t my story to write.

  4. Pixar studios has rules for their story telling. Try their simple rule #4 Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
    When you can answer this. You have a story to tell.

    Here is there #9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

    Here is number 14. #14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

    Hope that helps some! God Bless!

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