Licensed to Write

Licensed to Write

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Planning to write - a first for me

I am what is known as a seat of the pants writer, aka a "pantser." That means I sit down and write. Many writers are pantsers, and we all share a similar experience: we cannot plan ahead, because the ideas only come in the midst of the writing itself. Most of us have a general idea of where the book is going, but now how it gets there.

Some also say that if they do plot a book in advance, they are then bored with it, and cannot actually write it. I do not say that, because I have never actually managed to plan an entire book in advance.

But lately, I haven't been sitting down and writing much - or at least, not writing fiction. So I am going to try something new. Actually, I am going to do two things.

First, I am going to try to plot a story in advance. It may be a short erotic piece, tentatively titled Stolen Kisses. Or it may be a full length sweet story, Auntie Mom. (I learned how to consider and present two side of every argument in law school. That is likely why I can write both sweet and erotic fiction...)

In the same time frame, I am going to take a mystery story for which the first draft is almost finishes, and fill out the templates for that story. I believe that this will help me 1) finish that damn book, and 2) help me revise that damn book. I want this one done by June 1, by the way, so the clock is ticking. The working title of that book is My Dog Carries a Knife.

To help me in this experiment, I am using Break into Fiction, 11 Steps to Building a Story that Sells, written by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love.

What I especially like about this book is that its templates (and, more importantly, the questions the author must ask and answer in order to fill out the templates) directly tie the concept of the turning points in the plot into the character arc.

Of course, the need for that connection is something I have understood, and even taught, for years. But I find it very difficult to do in advance (because of that whole pantser thing). So I am hoping that by forcing myself to think about these question in advance, and answering in few short sentences, I will get enough information down to guide me in my writing and make it easier for me to sit down. But it will not provide so much information to me that I will find it tedious to actually write a story I already know.

I typed up the templates shown in the book. (No, sorry, I will not send them my templates to you. It is OK for me to do that for my use - I bought the book. But it would not be OK for me to give other people copies of Mary and Dianna's copyrighted material. )

Wish me luck. And keep me honest - inquire regarding my progress!


Dianna Love said...

Hi Tami –

What a nice compliment for you to be using our Break Into Fiction book with your current WIP. I have a dog-eared copy of your Guide to Heroes and Heroines I’ve used for years and have recommended just as long (and know Mary does, too).

I don’t think people realize that many authors constantly work to improve their craft and find ways to stay on track. Mary and I have taught that program so often I think the questions on the templates are engraved in our brains. We utilize those questions when brainstorming.

Thanks for trying out our book and sharing your thoughts. Can’t wait to read your book when you get done and it’s on the shelves.

Dianna Love

Lynn Crain said...

This is great, Tami!

I wish you the best of luck as I too am a pantser for the most part. Yet, there are some books I must plan.


Anonymous said...

Tami ~~ Delighted that you're finding the templates helpful!! Thanks for sharing ~~ Mary B :-)

Joyce Brennan said...

Tami, I'm also a pantser, but I have a new contract with a publisher (a real one, not a POD) and they want a sweet Christmas book. I have plotted it in advance using notes I took from one of the plotapalozza workshops. I have trouble staying on tract, but I have learned that I can stay with the general theme. Joyce Brennan
By the way, the books contracted for, "The Women of Rexford," a trilogy and, "Unexpected Gift," a Christmas story.

Tami Cowden said...


Congratulations on the contracts! That is terrific.