This book had been recommended countless times to me, and until now, I hadn’t gotten around to reading it. However, yesterday was destined to be a terrible writing day for me, because I woke up with one of those weather related headaches that linger all day. Once evening came, I was feeling a little better, but I knew the project I’m working on right now was going to have to wait, at least until today. But now, I’ve got a new assignment: Taking off my pants!
Okay, that’s sounding a bit odd, but the title is referring to the type of plotter I tend to be, a “pantser,” or someone who “writes by the seat of their pants.” I realized, after watching some of these 21 day novel challengers and their videos, that they’ve got this outlining thing down to a science, and my “outlining” was all done in my head. Libbie Hawker’s book, Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books For Faster, Better Writing is quite possibly going to be the cure for this “pantsing” problem!
And yes, pantsing is a problem if a writer wants to be productive. Pantsing tends to screw up plot, I’ve found. Pantsing can lead to lots of words written that end up getting discarded (like I had happen with The Explorer’s Son). Yes, during NaNoWriMo, pantsing can be fun, and yes, some of the material you get from pantsing can really get the plot going in a cool direction, but Hawker’s method for outlining helps keep the pantsing from getting out of hand. She reminds us that we need to keep the “Story Core” in mind at all times when developing an outline. And by the way, the outline she presents is not the one like they taught you how to do in school (although that sort of structure works well for some people). Her template for an outline is elastic enough that you can still pants some of your plot and not get into trouble. So long as you keep your character arc, theme, and pace in mind, the plot will begin to mold itself toward those aspects of the story you’re writing.
She uses examples of well known books like Charlotte’s Web, Lolita, Harry Potter, and she also uses her own book Tidewater to illustrate her techniques in action. I read this in one sitting, which Amazon estimates at about 108 pages long, and was able to start putting her methods to use immediately with my UF series (which was losing its way already), and I plan to use it with my other Inventor’s Son books.
No more pansting during NaNoWriMo! (Speaking of which, Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up in April, but I don’t think I will be taking part this year. I tend to have problems with the April Camps, which has nothing to do with NaNoWriMo, but it’s always bad timing for me.)
I reviewed the book on GoodReads already and gave it 5/5 stars!