Panster and Proud

I’ve been an advocate of pantsing (writing without an outline) for a while, but I’ve hit a roadblock—probably THE roadblock—for this method of writing: I don’t have an ending. Or, I did (and liked it!) but when I read through it on my fourth (fifth?) editing round, I discovered how TRULY anti-climatic it was and how everything settled nicely into place. Too nicely. Almost Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn easy. No big fight. No nibbling on nails to know how it’s going to end. Everything just kind of… worked out.

Who wants to read that?


Now I’m faced with the sucky part of the pantsing lifestyle: finding the missing obstacle. The story itself hasn’t changed; the ending is still the ending. But I need to make it harder to get to which means interweaving a new obstacle or broadening the current one (I tried that, but my characters didn’t seem to go for it). So, new obstacle it is.

I went back and forth on whether I should leave the (okayish) ending or chance a rewrite and rework a good portion of the story I’ve been writing since the beginning of last year. Not a long time in the scheme of things, but it usually takes me about a year to produce a decent project and I’m already past my own deadline, so to rework stuff would push it out even farther out. Then I thought—psshh, who cares? I’m not letting anyone read it. (This is the same lie I tell myself with every book. Helps diminish anxiety so I can write for myself and not the audience.) I was okay with no one reading it until I realized I’d be letting the characters down. They depend on me to tell their story, after all. What kind of author would I be if I didn’t tell it right?

So, I’m reworking BTT.

But it’s going to be BETTER.


Pansters, I wanted to share this with you so if you ever reach a point where you have to double back and maybe cut out a lot of awesome stuff for even MORE AWESOME STUFF, don’t let it get you down. It happens. And don’t let a plotter swoop in and convince you that this is why you need to outline. You don’t. You just have to believe in your choices and trust yourself. Trust your characters and trust the process.

If you do that, you’re golden. 😉

9 thoughts on “Panster and Proud

  1. C.D. Gallant-King says:

    Good job sticking to it and not being afraid to make it better. It’s really hard when you have an idea in your head of what you want but it just doesn’t come together the same way.

    I hit the exact same wall with Hell Comes to Hogtown. I had a grand time writing it and I knew roughly how I wanted to end, but no matter how hard I tried, every ending I wrote just sucked. I had big ideas for the final “aha!” moment, but no natural way to get there. I completely re-wrote the last half-dozen chapters at least 5 times.

    I did the opposite of you, though because finally I showed it to my wife and she said “You’re an idiot. Do this.” and everything fell into place. It was so obvious and it hurt because it meant it would completely change my plans for a sequel, but it was the right thing to do.

    Also, my wife is much smarter than me.

    • cgcoppola says:

      I’ve never had a massive rewrite, except the first time I went through EFH, but I was still in the figuring-out-how-to-write-a-book-stage. This one shook me, I will admit it. But I hope I’m not jinxing myself when I say I feel good about it 🙂

  2. Mason T. Matchak says:

    Glad you found a way to make it work. ^_^ Even as a diehard plotter, I always end up doing significant rewrites on anything I try to get published, so I know how much work goes into them (and how easy it is to not want to do them).

    • cgcoppola says:

      It almost feels like starting over in a way, which is like, the freakest thing for an author (I think). All that time and energy for nothing, right? But not really. Experience for the win, I guess.

  3. Roger says:

    In what I believe is my best novel, I just couldn’t come up with an ending. So I had an idea of sorts. I wrote three entirely different endings and left it for a month. Then I came back and finished with a completely different ending from the other three. Pansters forever.

  4. Loni Townsend says:

    I haven’t had the too-nice ending yet, but I have had to completely redo the latter half of a book before due to pantsing. It’s a lot of reworking, but worth the pain. 🙂 Best of luck and hope you get through it quickly (so that I can read it)!

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