Friday, August 30, 2019

To plot or not by Priscilla Brown

As I began Billie's contemporary romance story,
 I  knew only that she's a car mechanic with her own business in a small town. 
A stranger walks in...or have they met before?

I am not a story plotter, and not for me the structure of the work planned before I begin Chapter One. In my real every day life, I am an organised person, and I used to wonder why I couldn't transfer this inclination to my contemporary romance novels. I'm what is styled among some fiction authors as a 'seat-of-the-pants' writer, not knowing at the start of a story how it would progress; having said that, however, in romance it's accepted that the two protagonists finally get together, so my challenge is to guide them on their journey.
This not-knowing, making it up as I go, is for me part of the enjoyment or writing. I've attended workshops where the intended outcome was a complete plot outline, after which I've tried unsuccessfully to train myself into this. Attempts at constructing a plot before starting a novel ended in confusion and abandonment. While I would still like to be able to do this before I burrow into the story, I've settled into being a 'pantser'.

Writing a novel in this way means that new characters and situations will emerge. I enjoy meeting these personalities and ensuring they have a valid reason for being in the story. Such people and the baggage they bring introduce different elements into the way the story is shaping. My 'pantsing' usually reveals plot holes, places where something in the sequence of events and/or developing relationships between characters doesn't quite make sense. I need to fill these, foreshadowing by dialogue or narrative and/or more research, so the reader doesn't shake her head and mutter "Why did that happen? How did these characters get to this point?" I construct a timeline of the story events as I write; such gaps will often show up, and demand my immediate attention. To  keep matters under control, I make notes of actions and episodes with their consequences, and it's frequently necessary to read back over several scenes.

 Fixing the holes and dealing with other necessary amendments as I find them makes me a slow writer. And when the first draft of this 'seat-of-the-pants' work reaches THE END, it's time  to go back to the beginning with a thorough edit. Does it all hang together?

Enjoy your reading. Priscilla.


  1. I may be your opposite. Not really a by the seat of your pants author but I have a general and often specific idea of the story but know nothing about the characters unless I;m writing a series. No matter how you get the story and characters down, keep writing


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