Benefits of Being a Pantser Writer: The Light, Dark, and Demented

Oh, the burning question to all writers: Are you an outliner or a pantser? I debated whether I wanted to post this to Ditch Corporate America – my blog for authors and writers looking to earn an online income doing what they love. But since this article is more pertinent to Lord of Columbia and not a Pantser versus Outliner post, I placed it on this blog instead.

Alright, so per the usual I had this nice, drawn-out outline for Book V entitled Lady of Columbia. I had a paragraph or two set for each chapter, a synopsis sort of like what you’d find on Wikipedia, and the first four chapters written so I’d have an idea as to where I wanted to go with this book.

And of course, I got tired with the manuscript, hated its guts, and took a break, instead working on The Renegades from mid-February to mid-April.

Finally, I returned to Lord of Columbia and did what I do best – write on the seat of my pants.

And boom! Did I find a SHOWSTOPPER in this work.

Thank You, BlackPink!

This post is literally going to get dark, so I want to start it off with a lighthearted thank you to this awesome music group.

So, during this whole quarantine episode I had really gotten into the K-pop girl band, BlackPink (don’t judge me and my love for Jisoo) and it sort of fell into place.

Related: The New Character Who Sparked Book V in Lord of Columbia

I wanted to create a new character who would make a huge splash in the plot. Sort of like a co-main eventer to the main character in Trilogy II, Raven Spade.

Thus, Mei was born. The adopted daughter of Jacoby Rios, Mei runs into the Northern Knights, or what’s left of the Northern Knights in a restaurant she’s employed at. The teenage girl then accompanies the Knights on their mission to see none other than her own father, the investigative journalist and government whistleblower Jacoby Rios, himself.

Pantsers Write Themselves into Corners

Says the traditional Outliner, who all love to show off their beautiful outlines that they adhere to. I contest that. Because had I stuck to my outline, Mei wouldn’t exist, and the path to the climax would definitely have been different. A climax that may’ve been okay, but it definitely would’ve been lacking.

No, pansters don’t write themselves into corners. Pantsers often take a good idea and make it great. Now I won’t lie, pantsers will find themselves on the ropes at times. Sometimes multiple times and writing will get seemingly bland.

But once your vibes tell you the manuscript is kind of starting to get boring, you inject tension and a lot of it. It’s a strategy that made Stephen King so popular: Put your man characters into terrible trouble and write to find out how they escape.

And there’s also the classic story structure that I dub, “So close, yet so far away.”

Related: Description for the Upcoming Work in My Urban Fantasy Series, Lady of Columbia

The main characters want something. In this case, the Northern Knights (who’ve been catapulted 250 years into the future) want to know what the hell they’re up against and since governments monopolized on Columbian schools with their own propagandist narrative, they ain’t going to get what they need from the Average Joe or Plain Jane.

They need to discover the key to fighting what they discovered has been a 2,000+ year war between two factions that have engulfed Gaia.

And as Mei warns, the key is something more terrible than any of them realize. Even Asha, who’s seen a few demented things, as noted in Swords of Destiny. Mei could tell them, but Jacoby kept it a secret from her.

And it’s something my stupid, little outline for the work didn’t contain. However, the plot itself, even dating back to Books I through IV, makes so much more sense. This little – thing – used to fuel this war has been implied and in Book V, it’s confirmed.

Not for Readers Easily Offended

Nor are any of my works, though Raven’s Flock is somewhat lighter. Too bad the sequel isn’t. No, if you’re easily offended by disturbing distractions, you need to steer clear from this work, especially as you reach the two-thirds mark in Lady of Columbia.

It’s something I’ve been kind of getting to since Swords of Destiny and implied in both Missing in Columbia and Raven’s Flock. But in Lady of Columbia, it’s outright confirmed and it’s something that will set the stage for every single one of my main characters in a race across Gaia to try to end this thing once and for all.

But when sick sociopaths fighting a war with one another are literally using people as Pawns, governments as their Kings and Queens, militaries as their Knights, mass surveillance as their Bishops, and law enforcement as their Rooks, only then will Cain and his Knights realize that they have been flat out betrayed by someone who they thought they could trust.

And they’ll also realize everything they’ve been told up to this point was a lie. The truth is more barbaric and disgusting than anyone in Gaia could’ve ever imagined.

2 Comments

  1. Margaret says:

    Hi, I enjoyed reading your article on the Benefits Being a Pantser Writer:  The Light, Dark, and Demented.  There’s a lot of fascinating reads.  I explored your books and was intrigued by the Swords of Destiny and Northern Knights.  I love fantasy books and think I would enjoy reading these two books.

    Thank You,l

    Margaret 

    1. Todd Matthews says:

      Thanks, Margaret. I hope you like them!

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