The Life Stages of a Pantsers Manuscript

A friend of mine is faced with having to write her first full-length novel for a few years. It’s not going to be a problem for her – well, she thinks it will be, but her words are so epic that I know it’ll be fantastic once it’s done, even if she hits some rocks along the road. But it got me to thinking about the life stages of our books. I know we are all different, but for your amusement, here’s mine.

0 Words – Stark Beginnings

In the beginning – there was… actually, I don’t know what there was. The beginning of a book is not when you or I put pen to paper, it’s when that first little seed enters the brain. Who knows how it begins? I couldn’t tell you. I do know, that for me, it began with an image while listening to a song, but something must’ve triggered it before that? Maybe…



500 Words…of notes

So now I have the main characters name and a little background. But not much more. But I do know her hair color. Hell yeah!

2000 Words…still notes

Whoop whoop! – I now have names of LIs, Protagonist, and friends and a tiny bit of their background.

—— Words…I’ve lost count

My notepad doesn’t have a word counter, but it’s full up and I have everyone. Still…I have no plot.

200 Words…of my manuscript

So it begins. Kind of. Or is this complete crap. Should I delete it and start again? What’s going on. Anyone know?



1000 Words in.

I have main character, I have setting, I have action. I have…crap – which character should I introduce next. I should really know this by now.

0 Words in.

That was rubbish. Start again.

2500 words in.

I did it!!! I wrote a chapter. OMG – It’s fabulous. I can totally do this.


10000 words in.

Still rocking it!


12000 Words in.

That’s just….that’s just awful. I don’t even know what that is.


15000 words in.

I Wonder what everyone’s up to on Twitter.


25000 Words in.

And….I’m baaaack. I am the QUEEN of this place. Ooo, yeah. Look what I just wrote. How freakin awesome is that. Honestly…my own genius scares me.




30000 Words in.

I am a total failure.



40000 Words in.

Beginning – check. Middle – check. Ugh – what’s that chapter all about. CUT.

50000 Words in.

There’s a pigeon in that tree. And a squirrel in that one. Ooo – a dragonfly. *Runs off to have a look.


50005 Words in.

That dragonfly sure was pretty. I wonder what other colors they come in. Google has the answers….

60000 Words in.

I actually just don’t care anymore.

65000 Words in.

Oh yes, now I’m rocking it like the God that I am.


65002 Words in.

Wait…what? That’s crap!!! *Jams finger on delete key.


30000 Words in.

I can’t believe I just deleted 35k words. *Sobs while jamming cake into mouth.


30000 Words in and several weeks later.

*Peeks out from under pillow fort. Area seems safe. Snatches notepad from beneath junk food rubbish while swigging cola.

30000 Words in.

I guess I turned into a plotter somewhere along the way….

40000 Words in.

Yes. This is much better.

50000 Words in.

Is it really better? Is this too much? Are there too many twists? Consults critique partner.


60000 Words in.

OMG – I did NOT see that coming. Thank you character who shall not be named for guiding me toward the light.

70000 Words in.

*Stares at screen. Sniffles. Is it really over?

75000 Words in.

Of course not. Layer – you idiot.

80000 Words in. Several months later.

Draft one million and sixty finished.

77000 Words in and several weeks later.

CP’s have ripped it to pieces and I’ve put it back together again. Off to the editor it goes.

OMG – I’m finished. Now I can do all those things I wanted to when I was writing.


A half hour later.

*Fires up laptop… Chapter One….


And there you have it. My writing process. I would love to know yours!

21 thoughts on “The Life Stages of a Pantsers Manuscript

  1. Brilliant!

    • Thank you! There really are times when I feel like I’m rocking the whole writing thing and then, inevitably, something disastrous strikes!

      • I know exactly how you feel!

        • It’s so painful at times, but soooo worth it in the end. Well, the 54th end. 😀

          • Hmmmm agree! Am going through a ‘drifting’ phase, got no wind in my sails or direction. Need to address this somehow!

          • Wouldn’t it be great if we all remembered what it was that got us writing again? I don’t think it’s ever one thing, I think it all just runs its course.

          • Such a good point you have raised there. I wish I could go into Amazon and order a little bottle of ‘writing motivation’ – with express delivery!

          • Oooo, now that WOULD be good! If such things existed I’d have a subscription! lol

  2. When you write it all out like that… IT’S HILARIOUS! Of course when we’re hip deep, it is NOT HILARIOUS! My process is fairly similar. I fill notebooks with character sketches, maps, drawings of towns and houses (or other worlds), and scene ideas. I make a calendar of when I think certain events will take place… so I don’t lose track of a sense of time. So I do have a small clue as to what might happen, but it usually changes as I go (hence never ever doing an outline AGAIN!) I get to know all my characters! Live with them. This all takes forever. Then I write it from beginning to end. There are moments of happiness, tears, insanity… I didn’t have Twitter the last time I wrote a novel, but I’m sure it will call to me every fifteen minutes or so! LOL! After the first draft is done, I let it sit. Then go back to revise. No one ever reads my first drafts. I have a feeling that might change this time around.
    I’m glad to know you have my back! Just as I have yours! *high five* Great post. So funny.

    • LOL!! I couldn’t agree more with not outlining. I’ve tried and as you said – it just doesn’t happen. I go off on one and before you know it – the outline is scrapped. I totally have your back and I know you have mine. <3 <3 And I KNOW Doors 2 is going to be EPIC!!!

  3. That made my head hurt.

    • Was it all the Gif’s – or just the process? lol

      • The process, lol. 100 miles per hour panster! I’ll be curious to see how mine will develop as the word count increases. I’m calling it plotting with detours.

        • Plotting with detours sounds a completely viable way! And sometimes the detours are real fun! I’m so looking forward to the day you say your done!

  4. Oh, god, after reading that, I’m not sure I even want to start back on #4! SCR.
    Really brilliant self-insight and disclosure. LOL’d as I recognized the ups, the downs and the blahs of it all.
    Guffawed twice. Really.

    • LOL!! Sorry – didn’t mean to put you off, Jake!! Glad it got a couple of guffaws though! 😀 I’m a happy happy girl now.

  5. This cracked me up! Hilarious!

  6. Yep, this is me. And at 15K for book 2, I looked at this stage on your post and said.’s been 4 months now since I’ve written a word of that MS :S And regarding 60K words in 🙂 That’s me. If my characters didn’t show me how this book would progress, I’m not sure who would :S Great post!

    • It’s crazy how many words we write that never make the final cut. The book I’m working on – I could’ve written two by now!! It’s so easy to go off down the wrong track and much harder to find your way back. And….I think I’ve done it again :/ I must admit with my first book I walked away for a few month. Every time I thought about writing some of it an intense fear crushed me. I hate that stage, it’s the worst, but I guess we just have to write one paragraph and hopefully we’ll be on our way again 🙂

  7. This was so fun to read! I love your gifs, lol ^_^ Hmm, my writing process begins as a movie in my head. I know, sounds weird right? But that’s how my ideas form, and then I jot them all down and work on a detailed outline, so I can stay on track as I actually get to writing the story 🙂

    • No – it doesn’t sound weird at all. My first book began as a scene played out in my head – so I guess that’s like the same. It works! Thank you for commenting 🙂

Leave a Reply to E. Rawls Cancel reply