Posted in General on May 3rd, 2011 by Casey Crow
Ever wonder where authors get their inspiration? Everywhere! Movies, crazy relatives, intriguing friends, songs, dreams – you name it. The trick is turning that flicker of an idea into 300 pages. My category DANCE WITH A MILLIONAIRE came out of the rare occasion where I remembered a dream. I woke up and having no knowledge of the writing industry, sat down at my computer and typed as much as I could about my heroine, my hero, the plot, and whatever else came to mind. It created a snowball effect. The faster my fingers moved across the keyboard, the more ideas flowed. Pretty soon I had the basis for my first manuscript.
I didn’t know it at the time – because as I’ve said, I failed to do any research about writing, but turns out I was somewhere between a plotter and pantser, with the scale dipping toward the plotter side. I wrote the basic outline, but needed to fly into the midst to come up with the remaining pages. Using a combination seemed to work for me and I used it for my second project. HUSTLER’S DREAM required a timeline as the heroine is a professional pool player traveling the competitive circuit. Following a necessary calendar perfectly accommodated my planner side, but I had to stretch the imagination and dig into my left brain to come up with the emotional character development and secondary plot lines.
In the very unscientific pole I’ve taken, most writers are like me – somewhere in the middle. Others are extreme plotters – detailing outlines before they even begin to write. While some, like RWA Hall of Famer and multiple RITA winner Jo Beverly simply flip open their laptops and go to town. The good news is there is no correct method. Find what works best for you and don’t be afraid to try different methods. For example, I decided to use more of the pantser method for my current WIP, which is the sequel to HUSTLER’S DREAM. I wanted to dip the scale in the other direction and see how it would go. Uh…not so good. This being a sequel, the characteristics of the herione were pretty much already there. I also had a premise and that was pretty much it. I have to be honest though, I made it about half-way through the manuscript using a complete pantser method and hated the process. I kept getting stuck, which ultimately led me to finding other things to do (i.e. fold clothes, iron, Facebook – you get the idea). Months later, I was stuck with an unfinished book. Finally, I got my rear in gear and created an outline, planning the remaining chapters. Now, as I write, I’m writing toward a scene – a goal. (I usually write in scenes instead of pages or word counts, but that’s a subject for a whole other blog!)
Let me hear your stories. Are you a plotter or pantser? Have you tried both methods and lived to tell the tale or do you always straddle the fence with great success? Or maybe not, but we’ll keep writing for the love of it!