Sunday, September 30, 2012


I love this picture! This is how I feel sometimes when I am plotting a novel. I enjoy the process, for the most part, but am always afraid there might be a sagging middle, or the plot twists might not be unique enough for an editor, or too unique for the them to take a risk on buying the novel, etc. At every writer's meeting someone will tell you how to write a book well and they don't always agree with each other.

When I want advice from the experts, I turn to my favorite craft book Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. His literary agency sells more than one hundred manuscripts to the top publishers every year.

In his chapter regarding plot, he reminds us conflict is the essence of the story, but we also need a sympathetic character who confronts this conflict. He also discusses the importance of creating tension on every page. I highly suggest you read his book.

Until next Sunday,
Happy writing!
Tina Swayzee McCright

Friday, September 28, 2012

Author Spotlight Andrea Downing

Loveland by Andrea Downing

When Lady Alexandra Calthorpe returns to the Loveland, Colorado, ranch owned by her father, the Duke, she has little idea of how the experience will alter her future. Headstrong and willful, Alex tries to overcome a disastrous marriage in England and be free of the strictures of Victorian society --and become independent of men. That is, until Jesse Makepeace saunters back into her life...

Hot-tempered and hot-blooded cowpuncher Jesse Makepeace can’t seem to accept that the child he once knew is now the ravishing yet determined woman before him. Fighting rustlers proves a whole lot easier than fighting Alex when he’s got to keep more than his temper under control. 

Arguments abound as Alex pursues her career as an artist and Jesse faces the prejudice of the English social order. The question is, will Loveland live up to its name?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writer U On-Line Courses for October

The Hero's Journey, For Heroines
by Laurie Schnebly Campbell
October 1-26, 2012
$30 at

What happens when a character's journey is more about relationships, with others and with herself, than about daredevil action? Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler have identified 12 popular steps for a hero who explores the outside world and returns with the elixir. But what about a character whose journey leads to flowering change instead of physical adventure? Her challenges, as described in Kim Hudson's 13 steps, will sometimes contradict, sometimes parallel and sometimes compliment the traditional hero's journey...and for writers whose heroine faces her own less-traveled road to discovery, this class offers a fascinating map.

* Establishing the world of dependence
* Moving from dormancy to risk
* Sampling an unrealized dream in secret
* Balancing the old world with the new
* Embracing change, which results in chaos
* Facing self-doubt and the ultimate choice
* Bringing new light to a different world

Laurie Schnebly Campbell always wondered what was wrong with her, not really GETTING the Hero's Journey, until she discovered its feminine counterpart. Then she got excited -- not only by the premise, but also by the chance to create a brand new class for WriterU. She can't wait to see who else shares her enthusiasm for characters making discoveries within themselves, as well as within the matter what their gender.

~ ~ ~

Commit the Perfect Crime
by Stephen D. Rogers
October 1-26, 2012
$30 at

Killing people ain't hard. It's the getting away with it that's murder. Whether your protagonist is the criminal who commits the crime or the sleuth/detective who seeks justice, you need to mastermind a plan that will convince readers to come along for the ride. You need to create a sense that nothing can go wrong, and then -- logically -- make it all come apart. Crime may not pay, but writing about it does. In this class you'll learn how to:

* Motivate the various characters to make their actions seem inevitable
* Cripple the first leg of the investigative tripod: motive
* Cripple the second leg of the investigative tripod: means
* Cripple the third leg of the investigative tripod: opportunity
* Plant the clue or trait that causes things to unravel
* Draw out the suspense until the axe falls

Derringer winner Stephen D. Rogers is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. He judged the Daphne du Maurier (published category) for the Romance Writers of America, Mystery/Suspense Chapter, for four years and has written columns and articles for Dabbling Mum, Writer's Digest, and Writing World. Over five hundred of his stories and poems have appeared in more than two hundred publications.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Revised and updated from a workshop I did several years ago, this post is all about using your characters to make your love scenes unique and intricate to your story. It will be posted in several parts over the next few months:

1.     Using your characters’ flaws.
2.     Using your characters’ strengths.
3.     Using your characters’ goals.
4.     Using your characters’ personalities.
5.     Using plot and conflict.
6.     Using setting.

If you’re a writer, this may help inspire you to write some of the most difficult scenes in your book: your sensual encounters. If you’re a reader, you will get lots of sneak peeks into the Relics of Merlin series, which is being re-released by Sourcebooks over the next few years.

The Relics of Merlin series of books are whimsical romances set in a magical Victorian London of sexy shape-shifters, enchanted tea, wicked spells and loose corsets. Since I’ll be using excerpts from several of the books in the series, I thought it might be helpful to have a quick overview of each:

Enchanting the Lady:  In a world where magic rules everything, two misfits--Felicity Seymore, a Victorian beauty unable to perform even the simplest spell, and Sir Terence Blackwell, a were-lion searching for Merlin's relics--form a passionate alliance.

Double Enchantment:  When Lady Jasmina accidentally creates a double of herself using a relic, the mix-up brings her real self into a compromising position with sexy were-stallion, Sir Sterling Thorn.

Enchanting the Beast: In the third book of the Relics of Merlin series, ghost-hunter Philomena Radcliff comes to Grimspell castle to rid the residence of spirits, but she finds most haunting of all a reclusive were-wolf suspected of murder.

Everlasting Enchantment: In this brand-new fourth book, Sir Gareth Solimere has been trapped inside of one of Merlin’s relics for centuries, and only true love will set him free. But when were-panther Lady Millicent Pantere steals the relic, will she be his salvation or his doom?

So why am I doing a post on (gasp) sex scenes? Because several friends of mine said it was the hardest thing for them to write. Since they are my favorite part of the book to write, I thought I’d share how I do it and hopefully it will be helpful to others. Since I always seem to learn better by example, I’ll be giving examples from all my books to show how my love scenes are a development of my characters, plot and setting. I’m sure there are many other ways to develop a love scene, so let this be an inspiration and not a rule. If you’ve read any of my other posts on writing, you know my favorite motto is: there are no rules in writing, just guidelines.


This is probably one of my favorite scenes from my books, so this one came to me right away. In Enchanting the Lady, Felicity has been under a don’t-notice-me spell most of her life. Although she’s a beautiful girl, she thinks she’s forgettable and plain. This is her wedding night, and she’s waiting for the arrival of her new husband:

   If only she were more memorable.  What if he came into the room and didn’t even notice her in the bed?  That, she decided, would be more dreadful than him not coming at all. 
   Felicity lowered the bedcovers.  She leaned back on her arms, thrusting her breasts against the sheer cloth of her nightgown.  She did have a nice figure, surely he remembered that from their night in the Gardens.  A nice face wasn’t everything, was it?
   She crawled out from beneath the bedcovers and smoothed them flat.  Then she tried several different positions, hoping to gain his attention when he walked in.  He’d yet to forget her--but the longer he took, the more she doubted.
   Felicity lay sideways, hand propped on her head, gown billowing around her body, outlining the curve of her hips.  She lifted her leg and pointed the toe.  With a grimace, she rolled onto her stomach, propped her head again, and looked at her back.  Yes, the gown draped her behind in an enticing manner-- she could just make out the dark line between her cheeks.  But would he like that sort of view?
   She grimaced again and rolled onto her back.  Perhaps if she propped the pillows behind her, yes, and spread her hair out like a halo, and then flung out her arms like so…
   No, that wouldn’t do.  She should sit on the edge of the bed, and then put her arms behind her, and look over her shoulder with a smile of wicked invitation…
   She flopped backwards, her legs spread and hanging down the side of the bed, her arms flung wide in agony.  She couldn’t find a single position that didn’t make her feel like a fool.  Still, she got up to try again.  Maybe if she stood on the…
   The door edged open with a soft creak, and Terence slipped into the room.  Felicity froze in mid-pose, having been so involved in making herself look desirable that she’d forgotten all about him.
   Terence glanced at the bed, and his mouth dropped open.  The look of utter amazement on his face made Felicity look down at herself.  She couldn’t even recall how she’d managed this latest arrangement.  Somehow her gown had gotten tangled around her waist, and she was on all fours, her long, black hair cascading down her back and over her shoulders, her bare bottom exposed to his gaze.
     Well, she needn’t wonder if he’d like that sort of view.  His eyes glittered with appreciation.

I realize you may not have the fantasy element in your book. But how many women do you know that are very attractive, but wholly insecure in their looks? Wouldn’t the complete vulnerability of sex bring that fear to the forefront? How much fun could you have incorporating that into your love scene? And it certainly doesn’t just apply to your heroine.  What issues does your hero have that can lead to the development of an intriguing encounter?  Which leads me to my next excerpt, again from Enchanting the Lady:

   Terence took a step forward, his hands fumbling with his tie.  His voice slurred the words.  “It might have been better if you’d already been asleep with that delightful body hidden beneath the linens.”
   He threw his cravat on the floor and started shrugging off his coat.  “Because now it’s too late and I can’t stop this from happening.”
   Felicity dragged the top of the bedcovers closer to her.  His words sparked a kernel of fear in her belly.  Was it so dreadful then, that he’d try to spare her from it?  Why did he act so strange?  “Are you drunk?”
   “Certainly not.”  Terence threw his coat over a chair.  “Slightly foxed, but never drunk.”
   Felicity’s hands finally closed on the edge of the bedcovers, and she started to drag them over her.
   “Don’t do that,” he growled.

So is your hero approaching the encounter with trust issues?  Are you writing a mystery where your heroine may be a suspect, and despite your hero’s attraction for her, he’s still suspicious?  Does your hero want your heroine, and he’s angry at himself because of it?  Whether it’s trust or power issues, let your characters guide you in their interactions so that your love scene will be as unique as your entire novel is.

Until Next Time,

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Sagging Middle

This month we are talking about plotting. I believe the advantage to plotting your story ahead of time is it helps you avoid the sagging middle. I like to plot three turning points that each move the story in a new direction, followed by the black moment and the happily ever after.

If I'm writing a romantic suspense, I plot the turning events for the romance and then for the mystery. Every thread of your story could have its own turning points to make the story a page turner. You don't want your reader to get bored and put the book down.

Remember, you'll get a lot of advise when it comes to writing. Take what rings true for you and don't worry about the rest.

Until next week,
happy writing!

Tina Swayzee McCright
Aka Tina LaVon

Friday, September 21, 2012

Introducing Alana Lorens

Introducing Wild Rose Press Author, Alana Lorens, and her book That Girl's the One I Love

 Leyla Brand has one perfect day in her life: the day she meets rock singer Arran Lake at the Bele Chere Festival in Asheville. They have so much in common, Leyla is sure they are soulmates and will have a future together.
The very next morning, when Arran receives the call to hit the big time, he vanishes into the world of California rock and roll to become an international star, leaving her behind. Only a few phone calls keep them in touch -- until his phone is disconnected. After that, all she has of him is every new song that hits the charts.

 Five years later, she gets a message on the Internet from an unfamiliar address. Someone wants to know if she's the Leyla of Bele Chere. Should she open that door and discover who this might be? Who else could it be? And if it is Arran, why does he want to contact her now, after all this time? Will he just break her heart again?

You can learn more about Alana at
and her book at

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shrouded in Mystery - Just Released

This week my second book in the Shrouded Series has just been released for sale.

Shrouded together under the microscope of Miltronics, six people’s lives are affected by one secretiveness and malignant pharmaceutical company.  The only outcome—death or triumph over the evil that dwells within the corporate walls.

Shrouded in Mystery - 1st place in Beacon Contest under the Paranormal Category.
1st place in the Emily West Houston Chapter RWA Contest – Paranormal Category
Honorable Mention from On the Far Side Contest from the Fantasy Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of RWA
Finalist in First Coast Romance Writers Unpublished Beacon Contest

John Davenport wakes from a car accident with a dead man beside him and a duffle bag in the back seat with over one hundred thousand dollars in cash and a loaded gun. He has no memory of his past or how he got there. His only clues are a photo with the address of a shelter and a driver’s license with the name of Clark Kent. They lead him to Boston, but once there, he’s left with more questions and a sense of eminent danger. Katherine Spalding knows she’s one of the lucky ones. Born with money and looks, raised and educated among Boston’s elite, she has the respect and admiration of friends and the community. But her luck’s about to turn to chaos when a tall, gorgeous man with the most incredible gray eyes stumbles into her life. Katherine doesn’t know what to make of him. He claims he’s Clark Kent. But is he saint or sinner, hero or villain or … just plain crazy? Is she willing to find out, even at the risk of her life?But nothing prepares him for the phenomena he finds within himself. His hearing’s more acute than any animal, his strength beyond anything human. You can find Shrouded in Darkness at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or KOBO.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

True Confessions of a Non-Plotter

We all have a different way of getting there.

For me, the way is rarely linear and I rarely get it right the first time.  I have some tricks I use along the way and the latest, greatest of these is writing the book out of order--which really blew my mind the first time I heard it, but has changed my whole outlook on the process of constructing a novel.  I heard about the concept at the SDSU Writers Conference (BTW, see my scholarship offer for this conference at by clicking the button on the left for Scholarship).  The workshop was given by Q. Linsday Barrett (I think--there was no introduction at the beginning of the CD I listened to so I'm not sure).  The workshop was amazing and she explained in a great way

Ok, back to the book.  How's it done?

Well you start with the beginning which most of have an idea of going in.  Then you write the next 4 pivotal scenes.  (Turning point #1, turning point #2, turning point #3 and the end).  Once you've done that, you have set your structure up and the rest of the writing is simply "climbing" to those points.  It simplifies it completely.

Oh, important to note, that one of the reasons you write the end is so that you know where your going--but equally important, you're writing it at the beginning of the process so all that excitement and enthusiasm you have for your book will show through!  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Plotting Using The Hero's Journey

Looking for that happy ending? Try plotting your story using the Hero's Journey. Our own Caris Roane swears it helped her.

I found three videos on YouTube I found helpful in explaining this pattern of narrative identified by Joseph Campbell.

The Hero's Journey, explained with examples from The Matrix, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and the Lord of the Rings - 10 steps

In 5 steps with examples from The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, and Star Wars

The Journey shown with examples of Disney movies.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Spotlight On Linda Style

Presented by Connie Flynn 

Linda-Monument Valley AZ

Linda Style is the award-winning author of fifteen novels published by Harlequin Superromance.  She readily admits to being a travel junkie, a photoholic and a tennis fanatic.  And...she can be easily led astray when it comes to listening to live blues music in an intimate little bistro just about anywhere. She won't admit to having way too many pairs of shoes in her closet,  being addicted to  reality shows, or possessing the ability to eat a family-sized bag of Lay's potato chips in one sitting. 

With degrees in behavioral science and in journalism, Linda has worked in a number of jobs, but nothing is more rewarding than writing her stories or romance, suspense and intrigue. Her books--often described as emotional, fast-paced stories that keep you riveted to the page--have won several awards, including the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Orange Rose award for Best Book of the Year.  Linda was recently featured in a USA Today interview to talk about her last book, A SOLDIER'S SECRET. Her current book, PROTECTING THE WITNESS, from Harlequin’s Heartwarming line, is a September 2012 release, available in both print and digital format.

She's here today to talk about PROTECTING THE WITNESS.  

Thanks for the Spotlight invite, Connie, and the opportunity to talk briefly about my new release PROTECTING THE WITNESS, from the Harlequin Heartwarming line. The book is a reprint with several changes that make it perfect for the Heartwarming line and those who like family focused stories. 

As mentioned in my bio, I love to travel and meet people from different cultures and all walks of life, and that passion blends perfectly with doing research for my books. I believe authenticity in a novel is critical, so I always visit the settings I use and talk to people who work in the jobs I choose for my characters. In PROTECTING THE WITNESS, my heroine is a police detective, a woman working in a field that used to be mostly men. In addition, she’s Hispanic... and I decided to give her a job on the Houston Police Department’s Chicano Squad. Needless to say, I had a lot of research to do, and I couldn’t wait to get started. In the process, I met many wonderful people willing to share their lives and experiences. It was fascinating, and I hope readers find my heroine, Crista Santiago, and the people in her life fascinating as well.

She had vowed never to return to Houston's crime-riddled East End. But Detective Crista Santiago's promotion to the Chicano Squad has put her right back in the violence of the barrio. Determined to transfer out as fast as possible, Crista first has to prove herself by solving a series of drive-by shootings.

Crista has only one witness-four-year-old Samantha Del Rio. Protecting Samantha becomes Crista's number one priority, which means staying close to the little girl. And her widower father, Alex. But "staying close" soon changes into becoming part of the family. And the more attached Crista becomes to the girl and her father, the more she's afraid she's lost her edge.and her ability to protect the witness.

Print:    eHarlequin book link:
ebook: Amazon book link:
Twitter:       @LindaStyle_   (an underscore follows her name) 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Rise of the Pantsers!

This month's theme is plotting. Um, yeah, right.
I don't plot.
I refuse to plot.
Okay, I plot a little. For my romances, every one of my plots is--something happens to make the hero and heroine meet, more stuff happens, things get worse, then they get bad, then you have to read with your eyes closed, then that horrible moment when everything looks totally lost and then ahhh, they live happily ever after.
Sound familar.
If so, you're a pantser. A person who writes a story by the seat of their pants, not a plotter (which to mean sounds like a disease where you spend copious amounts of time on the porcelian throne). Remove tongue from cheek.
When I tell someone I'm a pantser, their response is that I must do lots of revisions.
Um, no. And never plot lines, my revisions consist of tweaking words and verbage.
Most respond with denial. Apparently, by not having tons of revisions I'm either a) lying, b) a crappy writer who doesn't listen to editors, or c) write superficial books with little plot.
My answers are I'm not lying about this but if we talk long enough I'll lie about something else (I write fiction, which is made up stuff--ie lies). As for b, I've been published with 4 small presses and worked with 8 different editors. My storylines have passed muster with all of them, it's the evil grammar that kills me. And c) neither my characters nor my plots are superficial. In fact, I write very plot driven and complex stories. Always, even the short ones. The only time I haven't tied them all up is when I intend for there to be a sequel.
So, does that mean all the ardent plotters who are telling you their secrets are wrong?
Absolutely not. Their process works for them  and it may work for you. But my brain thinks that if I plot a story, I'm done with it and my story fairy moves on.
While I am at the extreme edge of the antiplotting scale, I do have some tips for those who are in the middle.
Each scene (not chapter) must move the story forward in three ways--one has to raise the internal conflict/goal/motivation, the other must increase  the stakes for the external conflict/goal/motivation and the third is a repeat of either the internal or external.
Lastly, because most people are a hybrid, take five minutes before you write for the day and by stream of consciousness think of everything that could happen in a scene that you're writing. These are bullet points like shots fired, running, dark alley, garbage and rats (fear of rats), betrayed by coworker, who can she trust,  only the hero knew where she was going.
You don't have to use everything in one scene but this excercise can help focus your writing generating more words in a short period of time.
Happy writing!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Plotting With Post-It Notes

This month we are discussing plotting. I am a visual person, so my favorite way to plot is to jot notes about the book onto Post-it Notes. The colors I use depend on what I have available. Each color represents a different thread in the story. This is an example:

:Pink - Romance
Orange - Romantic Conflict
Light Blue - Achieving the Major Goal
Dark Blue - His Character Arc
Yellow- Her Character Arc
Green - Black Moment

After I write the notes, I divide the white board into chapters and scenes. I write the setting, time, and point of view at the top of each box and then I place the notes in a way that the story builds the romance and their character arcs. The various colors show me if I'm dumping too much of one plot thread into one place or if I haven't shown the romance growing throughout the story.

I'll jot these notes into my computer and take it to Barnes and Noble where I work. When I wrote my short story, Once Upon a Weekend, which comes out 12/12/12, I placed each chapter onto construction paper on top of the boards. I folded the chapter I was working on and took it with me when I wrote.

Each author has their own way of plotting. This is mine and I enjoy the process. In the end, that's really all the matters.

Tina Swayzee McCright

Friday, September 7, 2012

Author Spotlight: Felicity Heaton

 Presented by:  Caris Roane

Felicity Heaton is one of the most successful indie-published authors that I have had the good fortune to know. She's a Brit, a former computer programmer, and has been working as a self-published author for many years now.

She writes passionate paranormal romance as Felicity Heaton and F E Heaton. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons!

If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.

Felicity is a highly prolific author of numerous paranormal series from ‘The Daughters of Lyra’, a sci fi romance novella series, to ‘Her Angel’, a series about, yes, angels, to ‘In Heat’, a shapeshifter series, and finally to ‘Vampire Erotic Theatre’, a super sexy vampire series. 

Currently, she’s working on her ‘Guardians of Hades’ series.  For pure eye-candy, here’s the cover of the first novel.

To learn more about Felicity and her paranormal world, go to,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Never Ever Be Boring

Plotting serves only one function. To organize the story events into segments that can easily be transferred into writing. There are many ways to do that and various authors have various ways to fulfilling that purpose. These vary from plot-as-you-go to detailed story boards that work out each scene before it's written.

What many writers forget, especially those who dislike plotting, is that the plot is not the story. It's just a framework for the story. The story comes about through the ways you show the events. In other words, how you write each scene, how you have your characters move through the events in your plot, the words you put in their mouths, this is what creates the heart of your story.

This heart is created skillfully using pacing, proportion and beats to reveal your story, word by word and a well-crafted story is never boring..

Pacing has to do with time and timing.  Proportion has to do with how many words, how much page space, is devoted to any given topic, location, event in a story.  These principles apply to both long and short fiction.


Scene and summary are the writer’s most valuable tools in controlling story pace.  Scene, in this context, means a finite period of story time, with a specific location, where something significant to the characters and the story occurs. Summary is a block of words that compresses events on the page and clarifies the story direction.Whenever strong dialogue and high tension are occurring your story is being presented in scene. Do not interrupt a scene in progress with summary.

When a scene reaches the end, use summary to clarify major points and to transition to the next location in time and space.  Occasionally you’ll find a need to pull all these summaries into a cohesive whole.  Save these larger summaries for after moments of high tension.  This delays the information long enough that  readers are hungry for it and also provides a breathing spell to digest what’s already happened. Don't overdo. Brevity keeps your writing from being boring.

Authors must stay aware that when you give a particular story element lots of words, readers will assume the element is important. They've been trained to expect some kind of payoff for things that have the spotlight put on them. 

If you delay your character's trip to answer a knock on the door, readers will expect some momentous event when the door opens.  If there's no payoff, it won't be long before they put a book down. Today's readers days are used to the quick intercuts of movies and television and expect it in commercial fiction as well. They grow impatient with empty words, making brevity a writer's greatest ally to making sure you aren't boring.

Save your lyrical descriptive passages and well-crafted dialogue for the people, places and things who form the heart of your story.  Aim for clarity and brevity in your exposition and introspection and you'll have proportion on your side, which always adds up to a good read.

Beats and Movements

A passage of writing that begins with the initiation of a conversation or an action and ends when the purpose is achieved (or not).  In other words, it’s a small beginning and ending.  Beats exist within beats. 

A collection of beats that created a visible change in a character or a goal.

Thus a character could walk into a store, furious, determined to get a refund on a defective toy that left his daughter sobbing.  This beat begins when Dad approaches the customer service counter and will end when Dad gets the refund or is defeated and out of options. There could be more smaller beats, but, and this is a big but, if you include too many beats on the same topic, it just gets boring.

As beats expand upon smaller beats they turn into movements.  In this case, Dad is so enraged he punches the boss, making his daughter even more unhappy.  This could pivot the story from one about a Dad defending his unhappy daughter to a man struggling to build any kind of relationship with this young stranger he fathered but barely knows. A not uncommon situation that can easily drift into cliches and become boring.

What keeps readers engaged is how tightly and precisely you carve the beats inside your movements and how well you summarize a completed movement. The hard part is that there is no cut and dried definition for when beats and movements end except that each one needs to be a complete unit of action. In this example, Dad goes to the customer service desk expecting the refund and fails to get it – the beat ends because a new action is required of him.  Movements are simply larger units of collected beats.

Understanding these principles of writing keeps you from violating the two most unbreakable writing rules:  Never devote writing space to anything that doesn’t add to tone, characterization, plot movement, or world building and . . . never be boring, which are actually the same thing. 

Mind the pacing, proportion and beats of your stories and they will always engage your reader.

Till later,
Connie Flynn
Twitter: @connieflynn

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Plotter vs Pantser

I took this picture at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. While admiring the detail, I wondered if the artist knew what he would create beforehand or did he start with a chisel and let his imagination take over. Writing novels is much like any other piece of art. Some writers plot out every scene like I do. Some writers sit at the computer and let the characters take over the story. Those writers create stories by the seat of their pants and are therefore called pantsers. Some writers are a bit of both. I am a heavy plotter. I tried to be a pantser once, hoping I would reach inside and find well-developed characters who want their story told. After three chapters, I hit a brick wall and couldn't type another word. I needed my plot worked out ahead of time to continue. Some pantsers have told me they wished they were plotters because their characters get carried away and they have to throw out chapters that are not needed in the story. It could be a waste of time, but then they might have originally needed those chapters to get to know their characters better. Only that writer can be the judge.

So which system is better. I would argue neither. Everyone has their own style and the sooner a writer embraces it, instead of cursing it, the better off they will be emotionally. Have writers switched styles? I'm sure some have, but it isn't common. I have one friend who became a plotter because her story had so many intricate details, she had to make sure she included them in the right places. Writers who turn to mysteries have a reason to suddenly become a plotter. Mysteries need all of the clues placed in a logical order and sprinkled throughout; plus the red herrings need to be included as well. Although I know pantsers who have become plotters, I haven't heard of plotters becoming pantsers. It may have to do more with our personalities. I need to plot my life as well as my stories. I have a friend who would think nothing of quitting a job without a backup plan. I would have panic attacks.

Since I am a plotter, next week I'll go into how detailed I get when working on a story.