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Tolkien plotted like a pantser

Posted in Just for Writers, and Plot

Despite his tremendous efficacy in consistent and deep world-building, Tolkien seems to have operated in his basic plotting in a way I can only characterize as “pantsing”.

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  1. I assume that by “pantser” you meant someone who writes ‘by the seat of his pants,’ discovering plots as he goes. That he was, but he was also compulsively detailed, for instance using a early 1940s calendar with moon stages to get that part of his tale right. In my day-by-day chronology of Lord of the Rings, Untangling Tolkien, I was amazed at the level of detail he got correct.

    For instance, the fellowship of the Ring splits apart, goes through incredible adventures, and come together again after the same number of calendar days—and that despite the fact that their various narrative lines almost never mentions the calendar date.

    September 7, 2019
    • Just because you’re a pantser doesn’t mean you’re sloppy! 🙂

      September 7, 2019
  2. Just because you have plotted in excruciating detail doesn’t mean you’re not going to find out a huge number of things AS you write.

    I know the 5 Ws – but the HOW is always a huge surprise, and one of the most enjoyable parts. And it is the only part worth selling. Every single scene (I write only in finished scenes or small sets of scenes).

    May 21, 2021

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