Panther. I made that up myself. See, we were talking about plots at the writers group tonight, and of course we discussed whether we were Plotters (write a plot outline before beginning the story) or Pantsers (writing by the seats of our various pants).
As it turns out, most of us are Panthers. We sort of plot but we sort of don't.
Some of us diligently write out our plot points. Some of us make storyboards, with each scene having its own little square of space. Some of us write the story's through line in paragraph form. Some of us write without a plot until we get stuck, then we work one out.
One way or another, we stalk the wild creativity where we know it's most likely to be and then, when we spot it, we leap! We leap upon it! Fast! Like: LEAP!
Plotting outlines seems to be a way many of us use to creep up on creativity. If we have an outline, we don't have to worry about where the story is going or how it will end. If nothing better comes to us, we've got that covered. We have a story arc. We have a resolution. We don't have to worry about it. With that out of the way, we're free to let character, situation, and randomness carry us along a different arc to a different resolution, if that feels better. If it doesn't work out, we know we already have something to fall back on.
If you're having trouble working your way through an entire story to the end, try hammering out a plot with the heartless intention of abandoning it if a big juicy Bambi crosses your path.
How cool will that be?
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Marian Allen is the author of numerous short stories and novels. Her latest is The Fall of Onagros, Book 1 of SAGE, published by Hydra Publications (not associated with Random House).