Pantser vs Plotter

I was browsing “writing” on Pinterest when I learned a new word, “pantser.”

A pantser is a writer who, “flies by the seat of their pants,” meaning they rarely plan anything out, I guess they want to be just as surprised as their readers.

As opposed to a plotter, who outlines their story chapter by chapter and situation by situation.

I knew a guy who was the quintessential plotter. He wrote science fiction and used a whiteboard to keep track of the chronology of events, and how they affected each of the characters, no matter how minor. He also had stacks of handwritten notes that appeared to be organized by subject.

I’m more of a pantser type. I work out the generalities of my main character and their location, I might even sketch a map so I don’t get turned around, but after that, I make it up as I go. This also means that I spend a lot of time rewriting scenes, because my characters sometimes develop a martyr complex, get into situations they couldn’t possibly survive, or become such insufferable, self-righteous, assholes that I’d punch them if I met them in real life.
–I too have stacks of notes, organized by where I dropped them.

Fisher Backpacker Space Pen

I bought a Fisher Backpacker Space Pen to use on short hikes.
Fisher Backpacker Space Pen

If you combine it with a Rite-in-the-Rain notebook you can jot down your flashes of brilliance while doing pretty much any outdoor activity, with the possible exception of scuba diving. The pen will work under water, but I’m not so sure about the notebook.

They certainly didn’t lie about it writing under some arduous conditions, but the little blighter feels too small in my hand.
Fisher Backpacker Space Pen in hand
It’s kind of like using a pencil and wondering how many more times you can sharpen it.

Beyond that, I highly recommend buying one if you’re headed outside. They fit in your shirt pocket, and they write under water, be it the ocean, a spilled canteen, or that sweat dripping off your nose when it’s 110° in the shade.

Advice on Avoiding Very

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
~Mark Twain

“‘Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.”
~Florence King

“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”
~N.H. KleinbaumDead Poets Society

Something Writing Instructors Fail to Mention

Writing instructors, both university professors, and online instructors lecture you on grammar, plot, and character development, but they expect you to deal with day to day matters.

So when you decide to take up writing, the first thing you think of is your trusty pencil and paper.

Or your computer.

The one thing I’ve never seen mentioned on any of those sites is food, and there’s nothing like having your blood sugar get all wonky to make it all but impossible to concentrate.

Case in point, I’m a type 2 diabetic, not uncommon for a desk jockey, which means I need to eat regularly. But I’m also mildly OCD, so when I get focused on something, in this case, writing, I completely lose track of time and forget to eat. Well, we all know where this is going; last night when I stood up, my blood sugar crashed, and I swear the freakin’ room moved. It doesn’t happen often, but that’s not the first time my blood sugar got the better of me, which is why I keep hard candy in my desk drawer. –But, trust me, being prepared doesn’t make the experience any more enjoyable.

At any rate, even if you’re not diabetic, if you’re going to pull an allnighter, a basic cheapo microwave oven is your best friend.

Then all you need to eat regularly are a few frozen dinners.
frozen dinners at trader Joe's
(I like Trader Joe’s Tikka Masala and Lamb Vindaloo. They’re five or six bucks apiece, 600 calories, cook in about 7 minutes, and they taste good.)

The main reason I’m a fan of frozen dinners is that I’ve never learned to cook in small quantity. This invariably leaves me with tons of leftovers, and I don’t know about you, but I can only eat the same thing just so many days in a row before it migrates to the back of the fridge, where I can ignore it. So, tv dinners not only make my life easier, in the long run, they’re cheaper than making fresh.

Keep snacks on hand, eat regular meals, and get yourself a loud kitchen timer so you remember to take those breaks.

Grammarly TOS Oddity

From Grammarly terms of service.


Okay, the odds of me violating their terms are astronomical, and I assume that this is to avoid a site connecting and using it as part of their service. But, come-on folks, there needs to be an exception. Heck, I knew a professor of literature who would have violated their TOS during a single semester.

Everybody has restrictions, but this takes first place. At least until I read the next TOS.