I always love the conversations writers have about whether or not they are plotters or pantsers. I’ve always thought of myself as a plotter with my color coded spreadsheets and I do a fare amount of plotting before writing. But its not detailed. I write backstory for my characters (which sometimes changes as I write). I make sure I have a good handle on characters goals and motivations. I almost always have the climatic scene in my head. Key word is almost.
I’m 50k words into DEADLY SEDUCTION, which comes out 23 May 2017 (pre-order is only 0.99 but that will change to 3.99 on release day). When I started the book, all I had was this one line: “What if the woman you were sleeping with was sent by the man who had vowed to destroy your life.”
I wrote the first three chapters and was loving where the story was going. I had figured out the Heroine was playing the Hero, so that they could still have a relationship, but I would try to think out past the next five or six chapters, and nothing. I had no idea how the climatic scene was going to go down and that halted my writing. I read what I’d written a few times, adjusting a few scenes. Adding a couple new scenes, but still, I was stuck. So that either meant, I wrote myself into a corner, or I wasn’t spending enough time day dreaming about my story.
In this case, it was both.
That’s when it hit me that if I changed one thing about a secondary character–the proxy for the bad guy–I could head to a very interesting climatic scene. Once I did that, I could easily see the dark moment and how my heroine was going to save herself…and the hero. However, a new twist developed that I hadn’t seen coming with one of the characters. I’m very excited about this twist.
I used to believe that the way to write a book is to plot it out, hence my spreadsheets. But I fill that in as I write. I do have scene ideas, but sometimes those ideas never make it into the book. I think its important to know a lot about your story, but its equally important to be open to new directions.
I’m almost 20k into this challenge and feeling quite good about my progress. When I commit to writing, I can write fast. Very fast. Doesn’t mean it’s good, but I can crank out 30-50k a month, but I write SEMI-BLIND. I don’t mean literally, but while I consider myself more of a plotter than a pantser because the first thing I have before I start writing is the climatic scene. I have something to write. That means, I generally have a good idea of my character’s goals, but not always their motivation. That usually comes as I read.
That said, when I was writing Murder in Paradise Bay, I write to a climactic scene that when I got there I said, “huh, that doesn’t work”. It didn’t work because my bad guy wasn’t the bad guy, it was someone else, which threw me. But once I figured that out (and accepted it) it didn’t take me but a few days to fix the rest of the manuscript because all along my subconscious mind was dropping little seedlings through the manuscript.
I’m currently working on the 6th book of the New York State Trooper Series, tentatively titled: DEADLY SEDUCTION and I have no clear picture of the climatic scene, so that makes me a little nervous. Then again, there is no real mystery in this book, like there was in MURDER IN PARADISE BAY or some of my other work, where the killer should come as a bit of a surprise at the end. The bad guy DEADLY SEDUCTION is clearly defined in the beginning of the book because he’s seeking revenge on my hero. I have my short one sentence summary of the book: What if the woman you’re currently sleeping with was sent by the man who vowed revenge to ruin your career.
I know my heroine is being forced to do things in order to save her brother…or so she thinks. I have a step-outline that takes me through just past the middle of the book. I even have the epilogue perfectly visualized in my head…but not that damn climatic scene.
But I will keep plugging away because I know that scene will reveal itself as I keep pushing forward. So, onward I go…
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