The other day, I was hanging out with some of my writer peeps, when someone proposed the question, “Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?” One by one, everyone in the group claimed their tag and quantified it with an explanation justifying the label. The Plotters bragged about their ability to methodically orchestrate their manuscripts chapter by chapter – scene by scene. The Pantsers sung their song about free creativity and the ability to let their characters lead the way.
Soon the spotlight was on me. At first, I tried to come up with a word that would marry both writing styles, but nothing sounded right. Then it occurred to me that I’m a totally different breed of writer. I like to call myself a puzzler. Yep, you heard me right, a puzzler. I imagine my manuscript as a puzzle and I’m the architect. I can visualize the finished product much like the picture on the box. The thousand pieces inside represent the words and it’s my job to figure out what goes where. I usually start with a chapter outline which reminds me the border end pieces of a puzzle. Wow, this is starting to make sense.
Sometimes I write words, phrases, or sentences in a notebook and try to figure out, line by line, where they fit in my novel. I even keep a pocket sized notebook in my car and jot down sound bites I hear on the radio or catchy mantras splashed across the side of a truck. Just like hunting for where a puzzle pieces belongs, I troll my manuscript to decipher where the words belong. Even though it sounds crazy, it works for me!
It works when the words are flowing which isn’t always the case. Like many, I’m also a seasonal writer. That’s right, seasonal. I drift from hot to cold and don’t have Punxsutawney Phil to warn me when the season will change. So…I write when the writing is good!