Epic Moments – The Joys of Pantsing

Do you ever have moments when the scene you’re writing suddenly becomes epic? When you know absolutely that THIS scene is a pivotal moment in your book? A scene that totally makes the rest of the story? A scene that is so powerful that you just know you’re gonna have to rewrite the rest of the book because you didn’t really understand the conflict of either character until that point?  

Well, I had a moment like that over the weekend. There I was, writing a love scene, and it suddenly began to evolve in a way I hadn’t really considered before. An incredibly powerful way. It became a scene where conflict, character and romance all met and melded together perfectly. Where the love scene and the way it happened became so absolutely pivotal that if you took it out of the story, if had happened in another way, there would be no HEA (yeah, I know, ALL love scenes are supposed to do that but we won’t go there). I don’t think I’ve ever written a scene quite like it. And you know what? When I was writing it I thought ‘man, this scene could sell the book’.

Now some of the plotters among you may be thinking, ‘Jackie, seriously? You did not not see this coming??’ And the answer to that is no, I did not. I guess it’s a pantser thing. I mean, I knew the characters conflict before I started but I did not know the details and I did not know ‘how’ the characters would help each other resolve it. It’s like breeding two distinct species of animal then putting them in a cage together and standing back to see what happens. 

Anyway, I gotta tell you, it’s a rush. It’s the kind of moment I live for when I write, and I haven’t had too many of those lately. Especially good seeing as how the rest of the story has been a b*tch to write. It kind of made all the crap I was writing beforehand all worthwhile just to get to this particular scene. I may not sell the book of course but if not, it still would have been worth the experience of writing it just for this scene alone. Because if I can do it once, I can do it again. 

So, does this ever happen to you? Have you written scenes you can’t believe you actually wrote? Or had a scene turn out so differently from what you expected that you’re left sitting dumbstruck by the awesome brilliance of your own brain?? 🙂

13 thoughts on “Epic Moments – The Joys of Pantsing”

  1. Jackie, as we talked about yesterday over Skype (hee!) I love those moments!! I’m a panster by and large, and for me those moments are when so many little things before make SENSE.

    When I came up with Blaise from Highest Price to Pay, even before I knew the heroine’s name, I knew I wanted him to be with a woman who was a burn victim, and I couldn’t figure out why. But the theme of skin and inner and outer beauty became the focus of the book. I didn’t realize it until I wrote it the second time, but the REASON Ella was a burn victim became so clear to me during that rewrite. Most especially during The Rose Scene, which was a love scene. I had a character element I liked, but it was only when I hit that ‘perfect’ scene, that I realized how that all wove in to the book.

    So yes, I know. And I also know you can do it again! Weee!!!

  2. woo-hoo…well done you!! That sounds like a completely awesome scene.

    As a committed plotter, I generally have a good idea what’s coming up for my characters…but even then, there are still moments when a scene takes off in an unexpected – but utterly amazing – way. It’s a great feeling to ‘watch’ fleshed out characters come to life.

    But, the downside of being a plotter, is that I will probably miss a moment like yours, where the magic happens and all the elements collide to give sense and purpose to your story. Must be pretty exhilirating!!

    Hope you’re still revelling in the rush 😀

  3. Maisey – Yes!! Exactly!! You know, their first love scene I wanted to be fast and furious – at least, I expected it to be – but he insisted on taking it much slower than I thought he would. And now that I have written this scene, I finally know why.
    Oh, I love the rose scene! So beautiful.
    Also, Skype rocks. 🙂

    Anna – it IS an awesome scene. Yes, coming to life is what it is isn’t it? But I think with plotting, you’ll never have those ‘I don’t know where to take this stupid story next and it sucks anyway’ moments either.
    The problem with the rush is that I’m hoping it’s still as awesome as I think it is in a couple of days. Lol!

  4. Yay, Jackie! I LIVE for those moments. It’s such a rush. I’m half plotter half pantster, but the pantster parts that creep up are what make the plot richer and so much more memorable. It also happens within the pivotal moments I’ve brainstormed in advance, again adding that texture that makes them really come alive.

    Go YOU!!!

  5. I tend to be more of a plotter, but like Anna said, there are still those wondrous moments when everything makes more sense, feels more real, is just MORE than it appeared to be before.

    It’s like finding the prize in your Crackerjacks.

  6. Great stuff! It’s certainly a rush.

    Hubby laughs when I say ‘I was writing then HE said this and I never thought SHE would say that but she went there…”

    Yes characters are individual entities and can surprise in wonderful ways!

  7. What a thrill Jackie! After your post last week, feeling meh about writing, I think that scene is exactly what you needed. Being overwhelmed by your own writing/characters is a very special feeling.

    I’ve become a plotter over the years, which is clearly the way I’m meant to be, because when I was pantsing, I never had those moments. Small things, like ‘Ha, she said something funny’ but nothing pivotal in terms of conflict or character development. Now that I plot, I DO get those moments (backwards, isn’t it?). I mean, I know which scenes to write where and how they need to end, but it’s the getting there WITHIN the scenes that I don’t tend to plot. I am constantly amazed and delighted when I put the characters together (in a patisserie, last week) and say ‘Get from point A to point B’ and they do it in a way that was so much more emotional and entertaining than I was expecting. And I love it.

    So happy it’s made your whole story worthwhile 🙂

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