Plotting Pantzer

“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse.” -William S. Burroughs

This idea from Mr. Burroughs has been my creed in writing for a long time. Let the Muse be my guide. I had every faith she’d lead me to words and ideas needed to turn a single “what if” thought into a three dimensional world someone could eat, sleep and love in. This path of letting fate and my muse guide me to the best story possible sometimes classified me as a “Pantzer” in the writer’s world.

See, writers like to classify themselves into two categories, and like the Dr. Seuss story about the war over which way bread should be buttered, these classifications are the root of many great debates, perhaps even more so than the current war over the oxford comma. Many writers are how I described above. These “Pantzers”, so named for the way they write by the “seat of their pants”, claim that plans limit writing and the characters. Many also feel that the planning rarely stays constant from beginning to end, so why waste time on it?

Their points are vehemently countered by the opposite faction, the Plotters. These writers use programs and notes and charts to plan out their book from beginning to end. There are many choices of charts to follow. From the old reliable of Campbell’s Monomyth/Hero’s Journey to the 3 Act structure to the Working W to the 4 Act Progression, which is right to write, and which will ease the path of the young writer. Programs like Scrivener versus the ol’ word processor give different options to think through every nuance of the story and characters. It is also a great way to make sure continuity stays consistent and characters don’t change eye color from one scene to the next. An adage states to write well the two stages of writing someone should spend the most time in are prewriting/planning and revising. Plotters exemplify this to a T.

In my history, I’m the rebel neither group really likes. The Plotting Pantzer. I would plan the major plot turns and characters, then run with it. Normally, turns would change and the characters would lead me to new, most times better, places, I’d never considered before. It was a wild ride every time.

But now, as I am working on book two of the American Scions series, THE SCIONS OF WRATH, I have wadded through new waters.

Plotting, we got your plotting right here.

Plotting, we got your plotting right here.

Yes, dear friends, you are looking at a fully formed W plot structure for my next book. It goes through not just the major plot A, but also the B subplot. There may or may not be some romance (in the most twisted way possible) for our dear Rowan. And adding to the excitement, that is my series Bible there, full of character sheets, histories, emotion tells, maps, secrets, etc.

So, this is me voyaging over into the realm of organization and I feel excited to see it all there like that. I’ll report back on the success of this new approach, but for now Geronimo!


About Courtney Sloan

A New Orleans native, Courtney Sloan relocated to the hills of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina. There she lives with her husband and fellow author, J.P. Sloan, their son and their crazy German Shepherd pup. Adding to her writing life, Courtney is also a professor at the local college and enjoys learning a world of new ideas from her students as she teaches them about writing and communicating. Courtney’s New Orleans upbringing has left her with a love for the macabre and a flare for the next to normal. She writes speculative fiction with a variety of horror and sass mixed in for flavor. She loves taking the world of politics that haunts us now, and adding the supernatural to create a gumbo of thrills to keep you up at night. A self-proclaimed lover of way too many fandoms, Courtney also loves crafting. From blankets to jams to stories, it’s always better homemade. View all posts by Courtney Sloan

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