Outlining and Structure, Writing Tips

Writing Styles: Part 2

Hello all, and Happy Mother’s Day! Today’s post in courtesy on my friend Tanner, about his thoughts on pantsing a novel. Enjoy!

First, I want to thank Claerie for having me on the blog. She is an amazing writer and I always look forward to reading her posts. It was especially interesting to see how her thought process works with her writing.

So, now for what you all came here for, my perspective.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, or make it sound romantic, writing off the top of your head, or pantsing, is a pain in the neck. I highly recommend to everyone to try and outline, it will save a lot of headaches if you can. But if you are like me and can’t, or just want to give it a shot, here is how I work it.

I guess the first thing that comes to me is the idea. It usually involves a character and a situation. But these are only snapshots of the story, only the very beginning that starts everything off. From there it is a tale of discovery.

Writing like this requires a lot of imagination, patients, and very in-depth thinking. The first thing I do is spend time with my character. They are on my mind every day, 24-7. There is not a moment that part of me is not thinking about them, wondering what they would do, or how they would react to a situation.

It’s that knowledge that allows me to write so fluidly. I know what the character is thinking and how they will react, so I let them. It’s almost like watching a movie in my head. The events of the story start to play out before me and the characters react on their own.

Sometimes it’s surprising what they do. I had one character, who was supposed to be important to the end, run out into a battle and get himself killed halfway through the book. I literally stopped writing and just stared at the page, dumbstruck. I didn’t know what happened.

Now, even though I pants, I’m not completely ignorant of what is going to happen in my novel. I am always thinking about the book, at least a little bit. I have an hour drive to and from work and school, so I often think about my book then, imagining future scenes and scenarios that I want to find my character in. But it is the characters reactions that drive the story.

That’s the most of it. I think about the book and characters constantly, and this allows me to write without an outline, because, well, I never really stop writing. It is a constant process.

The last important thing I have while I write is a map. It starts as a blank piece of paper and turns into one of two things. Either is stays blank and fills out as I write, or I sketch a quick outline of mounts, oceans, and forests and build the story loosely around this. Most often it is the first.

Now, I feel obligated to tell everyone two very important facts about pantsing. First, it is not meant for slow writing. You cannot write only a little here and there and expect to finish the book. You will forget what’s going on and become disconnected with your character. This can happen with outlining as well, but it is death to a pantser. I’ve written a 90,000 word books in a month. It is a fast writing style.

Second, revising IS A PAIN. Because it is all made up without any structure, things change, a lot. That means rewrites have to be long and extensive to get everything consistent. Again, plotting does not fix this problem completely, but it does lessen it. With plotting, you have already made all these mistakes and fixed them before you write. Pantsing, you just have to go line by line and fix them.

Well, that’s about it. I want to again thank Claerie for having me, it’s been a blast. If you want to look me up, you can find me on twitter @tanner_childs or you can check out my blog here:


Thanks again Claerie, and I hope everyones writing is going well. Till next time.




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