Authorguy's Blog

Getting Caught With Your Pants Down

Posted on: February 7, 2011


Today I have the distinct pleasure of hosting my friend, Sean Hayden, as he travels the web telling all you lucky people about his upcoming release, a YA vampire story called Origins, Book 1 in his Demonkin series.

I was given the honor of being hosted by my friend, Marc Vun Kannon today. I’ve been looking forward to this particular post for a while. See, Marc and I share one trait when it comes to writing, and I figured I would expand on it for those who don’t quite understand it. The fine art of being a “Pantser”.

“What’s that,” you ask?

“Well it’s very simple really…” I settle down to explain.

“Do you write your stories without wearing any pants?”

“No that’s not it at all. See…”

“Do you wear a special pair of pants, like lucky writing pants?”

“Um, no. You see…”

“Do you wear two pairs of pants as sort of an inspiration?”

“I’m sorry, but if you would quit interrupting, I’ll explain.”

“OH, sorry. Go ahead, Sean…”

Thank you. You see, being a pantser is kind of like going into a debate without knowing the topic beforehand. I believe the best term to describe it is “Improv”. I’m sure any of my fellow authors who are reading this post just went, “Ug,” or “ick.”

Yup, being a pantser is often frowned upon. Most authors use what’s known as an (cover your children’s ears, I’m about to use a dirty word) “Outline”. I hate to admit it but a chill of fear just ran down my spine. As I type, I can feel its icy grip seizing my nervous system, causing cold sweat to ease its way through my pores, and tightening my chest making the very act of breathing difficult. Outlines scare me more than middle school cafeteria workers in hairnets. Outlines scare me more than ~looks around nervously~ , “Clowns.”

I take great pleasure in writing books and short stories. Before I started, I never had a clue how much I would enjoy it. Turning letters into words, turning words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into stories is as natural as breathing now. We write stories as we go along. From characters, plots, abilities, and even worlds flow from our fingers without the benefit of planning. That’s what makes it fun. That’s what makes us pantsers. WRITING FROM THE SEAT OF YOUR PANTS.

“Why would you do such a thing?”

I pause for a moment and try to think of a reason.

Because it’s completely natural. I couldn’t do it any other way, nor would I try. Have you ever been on vacation? Have you ever been on vacation with an “Itinerary Nazi”? Yeah. “We need to be at the museum by 9AM so we can see the early flight exhibition before it becomes too busy. We’ll have an early breakfast after that of granola and yogurt in the butterfly grotto before moving on to the science exhibit at 9:48. If all goes to plan, we should be able to wrap up the museum by 11:43, ride back to the hotel. Shower and change before heading to the planetarium by 12:38.”

Sound like fun?

Yeah, me neither. But that is exactly what writing with an outline would feel like to me. Beat me with a 2×4. Tell me I have to move to Nome, Alaska. Sprinkle me with colored sugar and call me “Cookie.” But never, never, never ask me to write with an outline, plan a story, or ask me what comes next. It Ain’t gonna happen.

Sean Hayden (that’s this guy here)

Born in the suburbs of Chicago, he moved to the frigid arctic climes of south east Florida as a small child.  The son of a fireman and a proofreader (that’s what they had before spellcheck) he fell in love with reading at a young age.  When he hit the age of 35 he wrote his first novel, an urban fantasy about vampires and demons entitled Origins. Unsatisfied with one novel, he penned the sequel Deceptions and both titles of the Demonkin Series will be available from Echelon Press soon.

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16 Responses to "Getting Caught With Your Pants Down"

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by chrisredding, Marc Vun Kannon. Marc Vun Kannon said: Hey, I got my first guest post on my blog! Getting Caught With Your Pants Down: http://t.co/X9kzmSz by Sean Hayden! http://fb.me/Kkqc1xxU […]

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Awesome post, Sean!

I’m a pantser too 🙂 We should start a club 😀

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OOOh, A club! I’m in. Marc? Wanna join the club? You can be president….

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That’s right, make me the responsible one…

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I am sooooo a pantser.
cmr

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sweeet. Apparently we’re starting a club. Wanna be treasurer?

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Great article, Sean.

I totally identify with the pantser method of writing (much to the chagrin of my plotter critique partner!). The organic flow allows me to have fun with the characters and plot, and I don’t feel restricted by having to reach a specific destination. An overall story idea gives me a road to travel on, but experiencing the twists and turns along the way are as much a surprise to me as they are the reader! 😉

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Hi Renee. You are so right. That’s what I love most about this art/craft/game too.

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Perfectly said. Outlining confines you too much. Even if I DID outline something, I have a feeling I would be changing the story too much to follow it.

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That’s what happens to me. I think of something and even as I write it, it changes to something else as I go. I guess I outline (minimally) just so I have something to change.

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Hi Sean. Great post!
At one point in time I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t use outlines… I even tried outlining a few times. The story really didn’t start to be good until I ran out of ouline. lol. Outlines give me the shivers too. I usually start out with a general idea of where the story is going (the dreaded synopsis – except I don’t have to submit that one so it can be a paragraph of gibberish) and then I start writing.
I have found, only for reference purposes later, it is useful to make an “ouline” as I’m writing. Ie this is what happened in chapter one. I only do that when I’m actually done with the chapter though.

I’ll also add to my synopsis if I come up with ideas as I’m writing for future parts of the book. That can sometimes turn into a very rough outline, which is why I don’t consider myself a true pantzer… but I’m much closer to a pantzer than I am an outliner… Was that way too much info? LOL. Sorry I got started and forgot to stop.

I’m really enjoying Origins so far. Thanks Sean!

Julie

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My pleasure. Keep writing, Julie!

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Sean, thanks for coming. Looks like you’ve been having a good day. I hope you’ve enjoyed your stay.

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I really did. Thanks for having me over!

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awesome post 🙂 I giggled!

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