Saving our bacon on yet another month’s fifth Sunday is Stuart Nager. We ‘met’ Stu during 2018’s April A2Z Challenge when we both fell for his gloriously creepy tales of The Abyssmal Dollhouse, and thoroughly enjoyed the banter during his daily visits here.
A man of many parts is Stu – Professional Storyteller, Drama Teacher, Teaching Artist, Director, Performer, Playwright, Arts Administrator, Curriculum Writer, Professional Development Coordinator & Facilitator, Drama Coach, Composer, Singer to name just a few – yet still he dashed off this post in response to our enquiry if he’d fancy writing ‘a little something’ for us.
The Urban Dictionary defines Pantsing as “To yank someone else’s pants down. Usually done in a humorous fashion.” While that may hold its meaning in a Three Stooges short or Middle School hallway, in the blogging world it takes on a very different meaning. To some, it comes with a different set of emotions: fear, unease, anxiety.
Pantsing is writing as you go. Being in the moment and letting your characters and story take you where they wants to go. No real planning. No outline. No mega research, piles of notes, no creating a huge backstory/bible. Just going with the creative flow.
Pantsing, as I see it, is Writing Improv.
I am an Improv trained actor/director. May seem an oxymoron, since improvisation is creating on the spot: really communicating by listening and then responding. But, the training is in not going for the joke but finding the truth in what you are doing, committing to it wholeheartedly, and allowing the scene and characters tell their stories. What you see televised, more often than not, is comedy improv; the headset is to make the audience laugh, and sometimes that’s done at the expense of pure improve by going for the puns and the easy laughs.
Scene and character driven improv, as in the way I see writing, lays a foundation that is much deeper and much more satisfying.
I’ve done both types of improv. I’d rather have a great scene then a cheap laugh.
So, my roots of creating on the spot, my improv life (I created, lead, and performed in an improvisational storytelling troupe for twelve years: The Brothers Grinn), helped to form my pantsing style of writing. I find a freedom in doing it this way; research will happen, some pre-planning may enter my head, but in the end, I find more satisfaction out of seeing where the characters and story idea(s) take me.
Of course, this may all get thrown out the window as I contemplate pulling thing together in a Novella or Novel form. THAT is causing me the fear, unease, and anxiety.
Non-pantsers can sit back now, nod their heads, and drink their tea with satisfaction.
© 2018 Stuart Nager