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Recently I read a well-written, well-reasoned article on plotting. I really couldn’t argue with anything the authors put forth, and as I read, that familiar feeling of inadequacy, of not quite meeting par or being a real writer crept over me… Why? I don’t plot.

The article maintained that every writer plots, some just do it in their heads. I thought about it as it applies to me and thought… to a certain extent, yes… and then no, I don’t. And then it struck me. This die-hard plotter simply couldn’t conceive writing a book without at least a simple outline. The ducks need to be in a row before you start shooting. The majority of the work is plotting the rest is filling in… etc, etc. Why? Because we’re wired differently.

And there is nothing wrong with that. However, just of the thought of filling out an outline, chapter summaries, etc before writing the book gives me the willies… I mean how does one write the book afterward? Does that make me somehow a lazy writer?

I admit that it does take dedication and writing an outline is probably a time saver…. But have you ever painted contrary to what the boxes told you? Or better yet, freeform? Glanced at the recipe and decided to experiment? Okay… I digress (and is it any wonder? I’m a pantser) For me, here is how I plot. And yes, I do talk to myself.

What if there was a woman, an empath?

Empathy has it been done before?

 Not sure… So okay, what about this empath? What would her life be like?

She’d feel what everyone around her felt. It would be overwhelming.

Yeah, it would drive someone to drink.

Perfect! An alcoholic empath.

Oh yeah.

She’s the Shoshoni. (a character that popped up one day with no apparent home.)

She is the Shoshoni.

Perfect. *Connecting plot bunnies.*

Something bad has to happen to her.

Yup. *evil laughter*

I know. She finds out her fiancé never loved her. She accidentally compelled him to love her.

No. I don’t like that. She’s the heroine.

She doesn’t love him. He loved her but she just mirrored his affections.

That’s better. And when she finds out. She’s devastated.

How do the holy places factor in?

I don’t know yet. *Write Write Write. *Got it! There’s a council. She’s part of the council and left when she broke up with her fiancé.

*conversation with someone about the new WIP where, in describing it, more plot reveals itself.*

*Write write write.*

 *to another writer* Hey, will you read these first few chapters? Let’s brainstorm. Other writer doesn’t think the character I described would leave the council for the reason above… she has a point.

So…. *think think think* Got it! She blames herself for her partner’s death. Delete, delete, delete. Study, study study Write write write

*lightbulb* The bad guy isn’t a bad guy… there must be another bad guy somewhere…. Who could he be? *think think think*

Got it. Someone who studied under the bad guy who now isn’t the bad guy…

Brilliant.

*Write write write* Hey, I like this bad guy. But really… what’s his motivation?

He has to have a believable motivation.

*run, run run* (Oh… that’s the treadmill. It shakes the plot bunnies free every time.) Goes back and weaves new bad guy with new motivation through existing MS

I am now at 35K… the entire plot is there…. More or less. This is what I call the rough draft. It’s the equivalent to the plotters outline. I know where we started, where we’re going. Now I need to go back and add details, fine-tune, dig deeper into my characters motivations, etc. This second pass… what I call the first draft, is discovering the characters anew. Often times I find new plot threads and I’ll follow them, and weave them back in because I know where the main plot is going Do you get the idea? I plot as I write. It is the act of writing that inspires the plot. I learn more about my characters if I’m talking about them, or manipulating them on paper than I ever could by writing down height, weight and other pertinent statistics in a file. Do I plot in my head? No. I don’t. I daydream about the plot. I think about the characters about how they interact. I usually know the beginning, a few obstacles and the ending before I start writing.  But not always. In fact, coming home from the grocery store, I ‘”saw” a woman enter her home very early in the morning–it was still dark and she was wearing last night’s clothes. There’s a man in her apt. He’s a former lover. He’s in trouble. She says she’s moved on. He tells her if she had, she would have spent the whole night.  Tons of tension. Vivid images, angst, heartbreak… it’s all in the single flash of a scene.

Obviously there are a ton of missing details and no plot here. However, if/when, I take the time to write down their dialog.. boom. The plot will be there. I know this. I will find the plot as I write.

Most important: I found when I start with an outline, when I’ve tried to be a good, responsible and professional writer and wrote an outline, I write in a loose 3rd person POV. Why? Because I’m not the character as I’m writing. I’m telling it… telling the story I made up instead of living it. And it shows.

So plotters, please, I will never try to win you over to the dark side. Promise. You go ahead and plot to whatever level you feel comfortable, but please, leave us pansters alone. We are not unprofessional and every bit as “real” a writer as you are. Don’t make excuses for us, tell us we really do plot…. and tell us how we do it. We know, okay?

Let’s just agree to disagree.

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Hello

I know I’m never consistent with posted blogs, but lately it’s been a challenge to get anything up. After I returned from vacation, I came down with a bad cold and Mother Nature had a spat with the calendar and decided it really liked summer and 100 + temperatures and to hell with the position of the sun.

I am feeling better and I hope to have some updates, etc for you in the near future.

In the meantime, proof positive that your children influence you almost as much as you do them.

My now 15 yo daughter begged me to read Death Note a few years ago… I was hooked. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a Japanese story of a young man who comes into the possession of a notebook. To simplify, all he needs to do is write the name of someone, where and how they die in the notebook and it happens. He starts eliminating criminals… and the story progresses. He’s known as Kira.

There is a little girl named Kira in my daughter’s Kindergarten class. I have to say I took a step back and stared at her mother for a little bit before coming to the conclusion she’d never read the story.

This is a band called Maximum Hormone. And while at first I didn’t much care for them, this song in particular has grown on me. There’s a lot of tempo and rhythm changes that, I think, are quite pleasing.

This is also the song that I woke up to this morning.  It gets your blood pumping. : )

http://www.youtube.com/v/TH-nBGSzvS8?fs=1&hl=en_US

I downloaded SO OVER YOU because I follow Gwen Hayes on Twitter and I always enjoy reading her tweets so I was curious about her writing. I saved it to read on a flight across the country. I expected a light-hearted YA story. Well, I got that, and a whole lot more. Right away I was drawn to the main character, Layney. She’s imperfect, quirky and likeable. The construct is simple. Layney wants to save a paper that has lost all funding and support from the high school faculty. Her nemesis and one-time boyfriend, and co-editor, provides friction and ultimately sparks.

The staff decides to do a feature piece on what girls want and Layney finds herself going on a date with 12 different high school guys to sometimes hilarious and sometimes not-so-fun results. I appreciated the way Gwen effortlessly wove in the back-story without weighing down the story, because I know it’s not easy and then the more I read, I discovered that I couldn’t put it down.

This is the kind of story that draws you in and grabs you and before you know it, you’re hooked. By the time I read to the end, it was difficult to fight back the tears… and I was on a plane.

When I closed my Sony, I decided I’d become Gwen Hayes biggest fan. I’ve been informed that role is taken so instead, I plan on being first in line to pick up her upcoming release, FALLING UNDER.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

Layney Logan, girl reporter. That’s all she’s ever wanted to be. The only thing Layney dislikes more than swimming in the high school dating pool is letting her arch-nemesis and co-Chief Editor, Jimmy Foster, get the better of her. So, she’ll take his stupid assignment to go on twelve blind dates and she’ll prove to him she’s twice the reporter he is. Unless she listens to her heart…

You can find this book at Smashwords or learn more about Gwen Hayes here.

A writing mom

The other day, I was thinking of all the things a writing mom must do. I put the question out on  twitter and got some funny answers. So here you go, some of the things a writing mom can do:

A writing mom can run to the store for milk in the morning, wearing a comfortable old dress and flip flops and almost run into the high-heeled, business-suited women because she’s running a scene through her mind she’s going to write as soon as she gets home.

A Writing mom can start a love scene between characters, get up, wipe a nose, play Geneva to World War III breaking out in the living room and sit back down to pick up the love scene where she left off.

A writing mom knows people on Twitter better than she knows most of her neighbors.

A writing mom can write with a child napping on her feet.

A writing mom can learn to write in 15 minute intervals.

A writing mom can drink a lot of coffee.

A writing mom is very familiar with that sinking ‘What do I make for dinner?’ feeling at 6:00.

A writing mom never repeats her husband’s answers for finishing this sentence. via @crystalposey

A writing mom can…..eat alll the twizzlers she wants. via @aimeebartis

Okay your turn. What can a writing mom do?

I just reread the title. Yeah, sometimes I wish I was double… as in two of me, but anyway.

 It’s 9a.m.

All the children are up, breakfasted, groomed. Shoes, backpacks and binders have been found, documents they forgot to give me yesterday signed, teeth are brushed, taxi services preformed, and every one is safe at school. Email has been read and (mostly) addressed. A load of laundry is now in the dryer, I’ve exercised, showered and am jonesing for a second cup of coffee.

And now…

Now it’s time to get to work. (?)

 

You say the words contest, books and coffee  in one sentence and you have most readers and writers immediate attention. At least it works for me.  So fellow UF author, Shannon Mayer, has a contest at her blog in which you can win a gift certificate from Starbucks as well as some terrific books. It’s easy, follow her blog and you’re entered. She has a point system for tweets, posts, etc.

Ms. Mayer, once I have an agent and am a step closer to publishing, may I  borrow this idea?

After reading a few more blog entries, I have a sneaky suspicion we’ll be hearing a lot more from this talented writer.

Waiting

Most of you know I write fantasy/paranormal books. Although I’m not yet published, I’m not a newbie to the publishing world. I’m on my fourth full-length book. The first three are not published. The first, quite frankly, wasn’t good enough for publication, although I didn’t realize that at the time. The second is a sequel to the first: rookie mistake. The third is currently under consideration by a NY publisher. I met an editor at a writing conference. The fourth is more a jumble of sentences than a novel but I’m working on it.

When I’m done, I’ll send it to CPs who will tear it apart, then I’ll rewrite and send it out again. After it shines, I’ll write a query and a synopsis, which will also go to the beta readers half a dozen times. After researching exact submission requirements–which can take days–I’ll send these to 10 or so of my favorite agents, because by this stage of the game, you do have favorite agents and publishing houses. Later, if necessary, I’ll send it out to 50 more. I’ll wait up to 12 months for some of them to reply. Listen, they’re busy, I understand.

If someone likes it, they’ll request a partial. It’s about a 6 week wait on a partial. If he or she liked the partial, they will request a full. You can easily wait up to 3 months on a full. If they love the full, and think a publisher will love it, I just might have an agent. If not… it’s back to the drawing board.

During the above, months and even years pass. In the world of publishing, waiting is the norm. But I learned a long time ago that waiting isn’t passive. At least it shouldn’t be. Think of waiting as an active verb.

Because if you want a career in publishing, sitting on your laurels is never a good thing. While you’re waiting, write, read, edit, learn. Get involved in a critique group, an on-line community. Sketch out those plot bunnies running around in your head. Start on the next book. (Just don’t make it a sequel to one you’ve already written) Actively continuing on your journey to publication, actively waiting, is always a good thing. It’s stepping forward.

It’s your career, grab it by the… er horns.