So, let me do my regular Tuesday thing. I’ll talk a little bit about writing, then I’ll rant about something that’s irritated me, and then we’ll both go on our way. It’s a plan.
In writing, there are plotters and there are pantsers. There are all shades in-between, but let’s not blur the lines here. A plotter lays out the story he or she or they are going to write, and they follow their outline. Sometimes, co-writers don’t behave (I’m looking at you, Harrell) or characters evolve and adjustments have to be made, but the building blocks are in place. A plotter knows how the story starts, understands the major character arcs, and has decided how everything shakes out at the end. In this house, I do most of the plotting. If things don’t tie up neatly, I notice. One of us fixes it.
A pantser does things differently. They’ll have an idea (“Our heroine wakes up inhabiting somebody else’s body. How did she get there and what does she have to do to return to normal?”) before they sit down at the keyboard, hoping the ideas flow from there. The really good ones can keep all of the story details in their head and never miss a step. Without an outline in place, a sloppy pantser will leave dangling plot points. As a reader, grrrrr.
Which is why we’re using a little bit of plotting and pantsing with our newest serial fiction. We started with the “inhabiting somebody else’s body” idea, then I loosely plotted the first chapter. Harrell ran with it. The second chapter started off in a place I hadn’t expected, but I loosely plotted that. Harrell took it in strange directions. The third chapter started off in a place I hadn’t expected… you get the idea. Five chapters in, neither of us know where the story will end up. It’s kind of exciting, writing a story in this way but, to make certain that we cover all of our bases, we keep notes as to what’s happened as we go along. Since we both have the memories of a pair of addled gnats, it’s important that we maintain consistency as we go from chapter to chapter. Harrell knows how I feel about dangling plot points
Bringing me back to comic book guy, Terry Moore. He’s a pantser, if you ask me, and he’s the reason I woke up irritated this morning. Let me back up: Harrell is a big fan of Mr. Moore’s Strangers in Paradise comics and his Rachel Rising series. As you might think, there are a couple of Moore’s story collections in the house. Having finished all of my latest BL mangas (go ahead and judge me. The heart wants what it wants), I picked up a handy graphic novel to end my evening. It was Strangers in Paradise: Love Me Tender.
**Spoilers ahead. Not many, but some. Consider this fair warning.**
This was a new story arc, so I didn’t feel entirely lost. The artwork was lovely and the characterizations were strong. Within a few pages, I’d learned that Francine (the adorable, klutzy brunette) and Katchoo (the adorable, hot-headed blonde) are in financial straits. They’re going to lose the roof over their head if they don’t come up with some scratch. This happens, then that happens, and, through a series of comical events, Francine is unexpectedly chosen to be the face of a condom company. Within minutes, she finds herself on set and being filmed for a commercial. Hey, it’s comics. The director tells her the commercial will be seen by 250 million viewers “every day for weeks, months, years!”
Yes, it was silly, but it was meant to be silly. I enjoyed it. Then the storyline drifts off a little, no one really acknowledges Francine’s career change, and the TPB ends without telling the reader what happens next. Since Harrell knows some of the SiP history, I asked him if Condom Girl became famous.
“Nope. Moore never mentions Condom Girl again. Never mentions the commercial again.”
“Nothing? Nothing? Not even a word balloon to say that the company changed their mind?”
“Not even that.”
“What about the women’s’ financial issues? Do Francine and Katchoo end up on the streets?”
“Moore kinda gives up on that part of the story, too. Nobody talks about it, anymore.”
Hearing this pissed me off. I asked him, “And this doesn’t piss you off?”
“He did the same thing with Rachel Rising. Introduced a bunch of plot elements, then ignored them when he ran out of time or lost interest. That parts that he did complete, they’re really good. You have to give a little.”
Maybe Harrell does, but I don’t. Damn it, Terry Moore, I don’t care if you’re a pantser, I expect you to fix this. Even though you completed the series fourteen years ago, you need to give Condom Girl some resolution.
Once you do, let me know and I won’t curse your name every time Harrell picks up one of your books.