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Planner or Pantser?

Initial Beat Sheet for Playground Antics


Writers fall into a spectrum regarding the amount of planning they do prior to putting pen to paper or fingers to keys. Some folks create outlines and plan the scenes throughout their story idea to THE END. These folks are known as planners. Others write away and let the story unfold as they go. These folks are known as a pantsers. Of course, there are folks who are a combination of the two. Let's think of them as hybrids.


Planning a story is unknown territory for me, as I am a pantser! Yup, writing by the seat of my pants. A story idea blossoms, and I write away. I may have a vague idea of how my story will develop or end, but no actual planning goes into it. Well, I do figure out my main male and female characters like names, appearance, history and the like, but details may change as I write.


Believe it or not, my characters can and do take charge of the story. Yes it happens. I have an idea for the route of the story, and the characters decide on a detour. Leigh and Garrett hijacked the story once or twice. Unfortunately, I don't remember which story or scenes where this happened, but I followed where they led me. I'm not the only author who has experienced this phenomenon. I don't mind it, because--in the end--the characters own their story!


Now the twist. There are these things called Beat Sheets which are designed to assist authors with their story structure. I learned of these from AutoCrit during a challenge. Their version is based on three acts. Each act has a number of beats, each with a specific purpose.


On the first challenge, I completed a Beat Sheet on my finished version of Resolute Love. Theoretically, the Beat Sheet can be used to find holes/missing parts/places needing more substance.


The current AutoCrit Beat Sheet challenge requires a completed Beat Sheet. So, this pantser is forging ahead into foreign waters. I completed an entire Beat Sheet for a story idea that had all of four pages written, only 754 words. I now have a "plan" for the story from beginning to end with all the major plot points identified. This ought to be interesting to write. Will I follow the Beat Sheet? Will my characters stick to the plan, or will they strike out on their own? Time will tell.


Oh, I used my story currently entitled Playground Antics. The photo is of my first attempt at the Beat Sheet for the challenge. Eventually, we received instruction to not exceed 72 words on each beat, so the final entry is a bit wordier. Now I'm anxiously awaiting news of how I did. Winners announced on 4 October. I also signed up for a critique. Should be interesting!! Wish me well on this endeaver, please.

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