BBC’s HoWM – The Superfluous Banister

Yup. Totally superfluous.

Today on BBC’s HoWM – (House of Writing Metaphors) we’re going to talk about plot. And my superfluous banister.

I’m not really sure where this guy came from. I’m guessing there’s a staircase behind this wall, but I haven’t gotten around to tearing it down yet, because unlike the banister the wall is not superfluous. So it’s just a bit of my quirky house that I’ve become accustomed to, not really noticing it anymore until someone new comes over and says, “Uh???”

Even though it’s not attached to stairs, my banister does serve a purpose. I’m a Pantster writer – the kind who sits down in front of the WIP and says, “OK brain, what happens today?” Usually the brain has a pretty good idea, or at least enough bullshit sitting in there for my hands to process before the real words start flowing.

But sometimes… sometimes the brain just looks at me and says, “What? You haven’t been taking your vitamins and now you want me to fix this massive plot stuck? Sorry, lady.” And then I’m left wondering what the internet has to say to me today, and we all know what a massive time-suck that is.

Being a Pantster is great because it allows you total freedom. Wanna kill someone? Go ahead! She’s pregnant? Who knew! But there are times when I envy the Planner’s nice outline that always tells them where the staircase is, and how many steps are in it. Namely, when I grab on tight to that plot and it runs me straight into a wall.

The Superfluous Banister reminds me that not planning means my plot might not always take me down the right path, but if I can break through that wall, there’s bound to be some stairs behind it.

Are you a Planner or a Pantster? Do you envy the other side?


7 thoughts on “BBC’s HoWM – The Superfluous Banister

  1. I'm somewhere in the middle of the planner-pantser spectrum, probably leaning a little toward the panster side. Depends on the project, though. I always jot a few notes about ideas that pop up to happen later, and sometimes that turns into a quasi-outline. Sometimes the outline-ness takes shape early on, and sometimes not until I'm in the last third.

    So I don't really envy either side. I just experiment with going more one way or the other at different times. 😉


  2. I'm a planner, but sometimes it feels like I'm a pantster.

    Something from my outline: “This is the chapter where you introduce the family members.”

    Me: “Um, okay. If only I knew who they were…”

    Outline: “Boys defeat bully.”

    Me: “Alrighty. No problem. Um, one quick question. How?”


  3. RC – somehow your process does not surprise me 😉

    Derrick – that sounds like me. I'll have spots in my ms where it simply says Character A says something that makes Character B realize they are very, very evil.


  4. I am 100% a planner. I usually make an initial outline that hits the high points. Something like: MC takes ring on long journey. Thinks it is over than finds out is only one that can take it the rest if the way.

    Then I flesh out the characters and the world enough to have a solid foundation. Then I make a section by sectiom outline. Then I write. I guess you could say within a scene I allow myself a little freedom.

    Do I envy the other side? I have to say no. I don't think it is a bad way to write -I just know I will never be able to do it.


  5. Oh, what I'd give to be a Pantster. On the rare occasion when the brain hamster has me kill off the leading man, or diagnose someone with a terminal illness, I can only indulge in the deviation from my plot for a few hours, (Heaven help me, a day), before I have to go back and make it right.


  6. OMG, I would've already ripped that wall down! LOL. Have you ever seen Coraline? You never know what might be back there. What a great metaphor, my friend! I love your farmhouse. In fact, I'm having a really bad case of house envy right now. Hee.


  7. Krista, Bethany – there are definitely days when my pantsting leads me astray. I've been 200+ pages into an ms and had to set it aside b/c I don't really know what's up. So – I do envy your more… civilized approach 🙂

    Anita – I have really, really thought about going after that wall many times. But i know there's plaster under there. Old, dusty, get everywhere, up your nose and under your boobs plaster.

    I'm just not ready for that kind of commitment. Yet.

    I'll post a pic when I tear a hole in the wall 🙂


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