Plotter or pantser?

Filed under: Business of Writing Jan 25, 2018

Forward motion has stopped in my current WIP. My goal of writing 500 words daily has more or less gone out the window, though each day I tell myself I’m going to get back to it. As soon as … [fill in the blank].

That isn’t to say I haven’t written anything at all. My current WIP might not be moving ahead, but it’s still gaining words. When I reached the end of what I have written so far, I realized there needed to be an additional scene or two much earlier.

A year or so ago (I’m not sure when, time gets more fluid the older you get), I read a writing book that suggested you can write faster if you sit down and plot out the entire story all at once. Then, when you’re stuck on a scene or at a part of the story you’re not really all that interested in writing, you can hop around to another chapter, or skip ahead to the end, and then fill in the rest of the blanks.

Unfortunately I can’t write like that. Most of the time when I sit down to write a story, all I have are the characters, the opening scene, and maybe something farther on down the line I hope to get to eventually. I say “hope” because the scene I wanted to write when I wrote the first book in what became my Vic and Matt series doesn’t actually appear until several stories in (for those interested, it was the bulletproof scene in 7-11 that appears in The Bonds of Love).

Before I started writing regularly (and I say “writing” instead of “publishing” because I had a year-long love affair with fanfic, as some of you might remember, before I decided to begin writing what I called “original slash” at the time), I would think through an entire story before I ever put word one down on paper. And that’s probably why many of those tales sizzled out after a few chapters. The longest is 50k, but it’s only the beginning of what was supposed to be an epic fantasy story I never bothered finishing.

Why? Well, to be honest, once I thought my way through to the end, I lost interest in writing it out. The story was over for me, even if it wasn’t finished for anyone else. So I have a drawer (and several discs) full of stories that petered out, stories I’ll most likely never bother going back to again.

I don’t want that to happen now. I have several WIPs I think are good (then again, don’t we all think all our own stories are good? I mean, we have to, if we want to promote and suggest them to readers). But I still can’t let myself think too far in advance, even in a short story like the one I’m working on now.

But what started out as a quick little sex tale has sort of taken on a life of its own. And when I reached this point in the story …

Giving Jo’s neck a firm squeeze, Lee says, “Open up.”
Jo looks past the thick dick in his face to frown up at Lee. “But I thought—”
“Did I say you could speak?” Lee thrusts his hips forward, and the tip of his cock smears across Jo’s cheek.

I knew I had to go back and fill in some blanks before I could figure out where things went from here.

Though, honestly, I know where they go (obvs it’s a sex scene). Hopefully the payoff will satisfy readers better, now that there’s a bit more backstory earlier.

Still, I haven’t let myself think about what happens when the afterglow fades. So I’m really pretty much flying by the seat of my pants, the way I always do when I write. Sometimes I’m as much surprised by what happens as anyone!



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