Thursday, April 1, 2010

Confessions of a Reformed SOTP Writer

Hi everyone, Audra here. Happy April Fool’s Day! I’ll tell you right now, my husband is the king of practical jokes. Me? Not so much. They always backfire on me. Takes talent to pull off a good joke. I’ll have to research it. But in the meantime, I’ll just keep sitting with my back to the wall.

Seat Of The Pants writing, or SOTP to those us with such tendencies, has its good points and not so good points. SOTP writers write as the ideas come to them. We have a vague, fuzzy idea, or no idea at all where the story is going and give free rein to our characters. We know to start with a bang and end with a HEA. And the middle? Well, let’s just say, the ride was half the fun of writing the book.

For years, I’d try to plot out books. I’d pull out every how-to manual and attend every workshop. I’d read and re-read Dwight Swain and ponder the merits of scene / sequel, the character arc, GMC and more, only to get so confused, I’d minimize my screen, click on the Internet and get lost in Mahjong and Solitare. Talk about creating your own writer’s block!

Now before hothouse tomatoes get flung at me for dissing the very practice that has garnered some in our field tremendous success, let me state I have come to terms with my creative side. A creative side that doesn’t want to be boxed in, doesn’t want to follow a formula, doesn’t want to think, “Okay, so I just wrote a scene, now what am I supposed to do about a sequel?”

Do not stifle our creativity! We are writers, hear us roar!

Well, with that said, I’ll let you in on a secret: You don’t have to give up your creative juices to give the reader what they want. You just need a little acupuncture.

I found out a while ago that if you are a SOTP novelist, you spend most of your time in rewrites. Am I right? Come on SOTPers, I know you’re out there. You’ll whiz through a manuscript, send it into a contest only to have judges scratch their heads and utter a collective, “huh?” Stream of consciousness writing is great for a first draft. Problem is, until you confess your tendencies toward SOTP writing, you’ll be working and reworking that draft until you, your crit partners, and your computer are sick of the file labeled Great American Novel.

Let me offer a few hints to help you find the happy median between Pantser and Plotters:

First, there is nothing wrong with stream of consciousness writing for a first draft. Just shorten the process up. You need to sprint through your story idea like a greyhound after a rabbit. No plodding marathons allowed. Spend a few days – yes, days – working through your entire story idea. Once it’s on paper, the fun begins.

Getting the whole story on paper will make you feel so accomplished. Trust me. SOTP creating can sometimes drag into months. But you’ve avoided that. You’ve filled ten or twenty pages with ideas to work with. You’ve given yourself a roadmap.

Way to go!!

With this roadmap, you can see if your hero is all he’s cracked up to be in your romanticized mind. Does your heroine measure up? Does she have a fear of horses, or is it the dark barn she’s really avoiding? Do you need that many characters, or do you need more? Keep inserting those needles and see what nerve they tweak in the story. As your brain mulls over the overview, details will jump out at you. Take those details and write them down. You may not know where to place them at the moment, but they’ll be there when you need them.

Now, many of the Seekers have offered great ideas of organizing your writing – Myra, Pam and Tina had recent posts with great charts and spreadsheets. You don’t need to pick and choose a specific method, you can throw together as my concepts as you want, add your own categories – toss them together, shake, and spill. What your SOTP mind will see is a way to dissect your story for holes, to identify and include the elements important to every romance novel.

Do Not poo-poo Scene and Sequel. If you’re writing a scene, you run with it. If it’s a sequel, you stroll. Look at the jumble of thoughts in front of you and group your pieces together. Scenes and sequels do not need to be the same length, but they do need to give the reader a rhythm of sequencing. So, as you race through your story, slow down every so often for a sip of water along the way and let your character digest the information they’ve just received. Keep the volley of information going. Let your characters think, explore, discover.
And while they’re thinking, make their thoughts count. Don’t just fill up space on the page with words as some contest entries do, confusing morning journaling pages with a novel in progress when they get stuck in a corner. The roadmap reveals the obstacles ahead. You can prepare your characters so the transitions are smooth and plausible.
Of course all this stuff is red-lined in the multiple revisions SOTP writers are known for. Think about it. Wouldn’t it be nice to free up time and disk space with a couple less versions of the Great American Novel??
Now it’s time to share. What do you do to organize your thoughts? How can we Seekers and Friends help those in need of a short cut or two?? Toss out those ideas and keep them coming.

And let’s not forget to celebrate our holiday!! Share a practical joke you’ve played or one that has been played on you.
Include your email address and I’ll draw one writing idea and one practical joke for a gift bag of chocolate to be announced in the Weekend Edition!!

Blessings to you!!

Audra Harders still can’t believe her Steeple Hill Love Inspired debut novel, Rocky Mountain Hero, will hit the shelves January 2011! Wow. That’s the month after Christmas! And we all know Christmas is just around the corner. Or that’s what she tells herself : ) The celebration continues!!!


Gracie Bea Winterton said...

As a recovering obsessive plotter, I need to have some idea of where the story is going before I begin...I like to have scenes in mind for the beginning, midpoint, and climax. As for writing in scene and sequel? This is something I used to obsessively train myself to do. When I got sick of the writer's block that comes by filling out the goal, conflict, disaster form over and over, I tried writing a scene/sequel or two by the seat of my pants...and what do you know? I wrote (almost) automatically in scene format! Woohoo! So, I guess that's my advice. DO learn to write in scene and sequels, then someday you won't have to follow that pesky structure anymore because you'll have learned it by heart.

As for the prank? A couple years back I capitalized on recent plumbing problems in my house and dyed the shower nozzle thingy using blue food coloring. A mild panic erupted throughout the house when the water came out blue.


Helen Gray said...


It's too early for the coffee, so I've put the pot on and set the timer for 4 a.m. (with Ruthy's rooster-like habits in mind)

I always have a rough roadmap in mind for a story when I start--a beginning, assorted scenes, and an ending. But the 'occurring' that glues them together has to come in small doses as I go. Of course, it's all written down and rewritten time and again as I go. It's that accounting mentality from the teaching days.

The 'prankiest' thing I can remember doing:

One day my husband was sacked out on the sofa snoozing. I was painting a billboard for a local company--with blue and silver paint.

I took a small brush and painted his fingernails blue--one complete hand.

When he woke up, he did his little wake-up routine, stumbled to the bathroom--and everything was silent. When he came out, he said nothing. Nor did he mention it the rest of the day.

That night soon after we crawled into bed, there was this low mumble. "I think I've been smurfed."


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

I had an amazing epiphany after my last post..WITH CHARTS....thanks to you and Rogenna Brewer.

I am not a Panster. I am not a Plotter.


I can live with that.

I take my charts and then I let my characters have semi full rein.

Happy April 1st..the coffee is set on auto brew!!!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...


Helen and I are twins separated at birth. We now have not one but two auto brew pots set up.


Critty said...

I like this SOTP stuff. I am an over thinker and that can get me into trouble sometimes :)

I have gotten so many great tips from here over the last few weeks :)

As for prank...

When my youth/young adult pastor got married the night before they came home from their honeymoon we saran wrapped their cars, bed, and toliets. They still talk about it 10 years later and laugh as much as we did when we were doing it! ;)

We also had a lot of fun forking his yard before he was married!

Keli Gwyn said...

I hear ya, Audra. I'm a reformed SOTP writer. I'm on the third major rewrite of a story. Since I don't want to go through the agony of deleting some 70K works again, I decided to plot this version before I began. Novel idea, huh?

Plotting works. I'm sold. And I'm not going back. While I allow myself freedom to be creative and tweak my detailed plot as I go, simply having it in place is serving me far better than pantsing it did. I can tell the story is better, tighter, and nicely paced.

No pranks to speak of. I'm too serious. But not to worry. Ruthy's been giving me lessons on how to loosen up, and I'm making progress. Right, Ruthy? C'mon. Say it. I double dog dare ya to disagree. :D

robynl said...

Dh and I were newly married and we had his 2 teenagers living with us. Upon waking the boys up for school I said that it was early but it had snowed out during the night. Steven was on shovelling duty and he seemed perturbed about the snow. He gets up, mumbling, and comes upstair to look out. Wht a surprise when he saw it hadn't snowed. BUT he was not amused to say the least.


Helen Gray said...


You are a PLANNER.



Lisa Jordan said...

I think I'm somewhere in the middle--a planner like Tina...I like that. I like to nail down my characters and their backgrounds, along with GMCs, but my chapter outlines consist of one or two sentences to explain what happens in that scene.

My best advice for anyone--whether you're a plottor or pantser or even a planner is to know your characters. I use Susan May Warren's Inside...Out book before I begin any story and keep it close by while writing.

I'm not a great prankster, but I do have a cute story. 12 years ago, my brother called the family to let him know my nephew had been born. No one believed him because they thought he was pulling a prank on them. This time he was being serious! :)

Great post, Audra! Thanks for sharing. :)

Audra Harders said...

Good morning, all! Wow, TWO pots of autobrew! You Helen, Tina, you guys are thinkers (who cares about plotters or pansters, LOL).

I'm with you Gracie, trying to write to s/s is enough to make me toss in the keyboard and mouse my way through Mahjong!!

Plotting out my main road map and keeping my conflicts smack in front of me helps the creative juices keep flowing.

Ha blue water...I love it! Have you seen that great commerical where a woman is relaxing in a bubble bath and guck starts spewing out of the faucet? Oh man, my nightmare!

Audra Harders said...

LOL, Helen!

Why do silly little cartoons like that stay in our minds forever-practically icons?? Smurfs. That says it all : )

Thanks for the coffee, it's delicious. I've brought blueberry scones and fresh creamery butter. The waffle iron is heating up, so mor is on the way : )

Janet Dean said...

Wonderful post, Audra! You've given us great ideas for speeding up the process. I'm a mix, but even with plotting, I revise and revise and revise.

Our family was on the way to Florida for Spring Break when my d/h stopped for gas and a potty break after midnight. While he was out of the car, we realized it was April Fool's Day. We told my husband we'd heard on the radio that I-75 was closed. Funny to us. Not so much to him.

Helen, I love your prank and your husband's come back! I didn't realize you're a commercial artist!

Where's breakfast????


Audra Harders said...

Mornin' Critty! I just love a gal who can wield a mean roll of saran wrap! My husband and his buds used to do that all the time...and our kids hung on his every story. I remember going through a time when I definitely inspected the toilet before I sat down : )

There's got to be a fine balance between pantser and plotting. I'm glad Seekerville has offered you new ideas as well as keeping you entertained : )

And fed. Never forget the food : )

Janet Dean said...

Whew, thanks for scones, Audra! I shoulda known I could count on you!


Audra Harders said...

Keli, I hear you. I meandered through my first novel until I realized I'm on page 486 and only halfway done!

I guess I had a bit of Julie in me, but Julie doesn't ramble. Oh no. Her books make you forget you're reading a tomb the size of a dictionary and leave you wanting more.

And Ruthy? Definitely the go-to gal for lightening up. We're so glad we have her : )

Audra Harders said...

Robyn! My husband loves pulling stuff like that on the kids! They KNOW better than to pull it on mama, though I've been gotcha'd a few times over the years : )

Audra Harders said...

Lisa! Do you know how long it took for me to discover and use chapter outlines? I'm still rusty, but fave writing book is Writing From The Inside Out.

Tattered cover, broken spine-- the whole nine yards : )

Audra Harders said...

Ha, Janet! After midnight, you say? You're mighty chipper in the middle of the night be be planning pranks.

Remind me to always room at least a floor away from you during conferences : )

I've got ooey, gooey cinnamon rolls popping out of the oven as we speak. Oops, gotta go get ready for work.

I'll pop in again soon : )

Glynna Kaye said...

Audra -- I used to be more of a full-fledged panster than I am now. Because of a super-limited time to write, I now have to have things more mapped out to make the best use of that time. I don't write super-detailed scene maps, but I do use a spreadsheet to help me keep my eye on where I'm headed. It doesn't mean I'm chained to the spreadsheet or that it can't be altered as the story and characters grow in the writing, it just gives me a sense of direction. A target for the "turning points." I think the more you write, though, the more the "craft" that we study becomes instinctive.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

First of all:

I'm getting a headache thinking of charts and graphs and just so you know, I did quite well in math so it's not the concept that's difficult, it's the application.

I've tried.

Crashed. Burned. It wasn't pretty. Because no matter what I PLAN (and I'm a planner, not a plotter) some of those plans do not get used at all in the final flow and some take on a life of their own...

And it works, if I do say so myself.

'Cause if it doesn't FEEL the story through, if it doesn't evoke the emotion I need/want/curry for the H/H at that time, then it gets dumped as extraneous because those character feelings are the most important thing to me as I write. So I go with feeling as opposed to action/reaction, but the feelings then cause and action/reaction.

But feelings first. Always. And I'm grabbing coffee because I was deep into FEELING this new story at 4:30 this morning and didn't get over here for coffee. Helen. Teeeeeeena...


And I love that characters (people/animals/kids/relatives/neighbors/old teachers) show up out of the blue at just the right time. ;)

Kelli Gwyn, stop strutting, you're still a WIP, girlfriend.... I consider ligthening you up to be one of my more lofty goals. The other ones are new toilet seats and a rubberized entry rug.


Okay, try this carrot cake with pineapple. Soooooo yum. And I didn't have time for breakfast, but I did bring a grill for lunch. We're doing hots and hamburgs on the grill all afternoon. Onions, peppers, chili, cheese, condiments.

Who's got potato salad handy?


Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I am 100% SOTP - I tried writing a synopsis BEFORE the book, turned out beautiful if I do say so myself - problem is, I can't seem to feel/figure/envision how all that stuff goes together to WORK for the story. As usual, my characters have taken on a life of their own and all I can do is hang on for dear life.

I envy those of you who implement charts/graphs/etc even "slight" ones. You'd think with all my years of accounting experience, this would be easy for me - Not so! Especially with my's like I can't harness that side of my brain to cooperate with the creative side or vice-versa LOL!

Wonderful post.

My husband LOVED to play jokes but for the life of me I can't remember one right now...nostalgia is dangerous to my mental/emotional well-being at this moment so I'll pass on sharing a prank.

I would however, love to win the prize so please enter me in the drawing:


Audra Harders said...

Glynna isn't necessity the driving force behind making something work? My time has become so limited, I'd hate to even think where my *meandering writing* would take me today. Ugh!

Ruthy-babe! Grillin' for lunch?? Love it! I'll take seasoned salmon fillet, blackened. Yumbola! Oh, no fish? Hmm, okay, how about chicken breast seasoned with red pepper?

Whatever works. You're the chef.

And hey! No Keli put downs! Don't you realize we have a Golden Heart finalist in our midsts????????

You never know who you'll find in Seekerville, LOL!

Audra Harders said...

Pam, I'll never tame my characters, they still run the show. I've just learned how to keep them corraled within my property lines, LOL!

Regina Merrick said...

Hello, My name is Regina, and I am a SOTP writer. I've also RE-written my novel, in bits, five times. Yes, I said FIVE times. I declared, last week, when I went through it that fifth time, that this was IT until an actual editor told me to change something. I've been plagued with doubts and ideas for additional material ever since.

I've started book 2, and I know I have to plot it out, somewhat. After about 30 pages, I've come to a screeching halt. I'm actually to that point of "why did I write the first one, anyway?"

Since I've always been the one to have pranks played ON me, rather than play them on others, I won't touch that one with a ten-foot-pole.

I will say, though, thank you for validating my "pantser" tendencies, and please enter me in the drawing!

Walt M said...

Sometimes I feel like I'm a combination, half panster and half plotter. I have the beginning and end plotted and even get them written. Making the bridge between the two though proves a challenge.


Mary Connealy said...

Audra used the word -Poo poo- in her blog


Mary Connealy said...

You can have my seat of the pants writing method when you pry it out of my cold, dead....desk chair.

Mary Connealy said...

Which isn't to say I can't learn.

Sure I can learn.

It wouldn't kill me to learn.

I'm planning to learn.

I'm starting tomorrow to learn.

Stop yelling at me, Audra. I have a cold. That's rude.

Keli Gwyn said...

Ruthy, glad to know I rank up there with toilet seats. LOL!

I've been trying to think of a prank to play on my husband, who has a good sense of humor, but everything I come up with is too drastic. Don't think he'd find a comment about a supposed scratch on his beloved yellow 1968 MGB Roadster convertible at all funny. That curvy little blonde predates me, and I know better than to compete with "Midge". (Yes. She has a name.) But not to worry. I'll think of something.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Mornig Audra, It is still morning out here so I'll enjoy the scones and save Ruthy's barbecue for lunch time.

I love your idea of writing a short version and then fleshing it out. I need more panster creativity. I get too rigid with too much planning. All that left brain stuff. Does make revising fun though.

April 1, hmmmmm. I can think of so many fun things, like calling friends and telling them I saw their book banned or that I read a horrible review. Or send a crit partner a horrible comment about their wip. Ewwww so mean so early.

But Keli, you're on the right track with Midge. That's how I get my dh. He loves his toys. So I tell him his motorcycle fell over or has a flat tire. Or I tell him his favorite bicycle is gone-must've been stolen. He tears out in the yard and I smirk "April Fools" Love it love it.

Casey said...

Great post. I am a SOTP writer as well and I know the feeling of getting stuck and then mysteriously finding myself looking at my emails. :) Great ideas, I am going to have to keep them in mind.

Watch your back today!!

Audra Harders said...

Regina, doesn't it get easier as time goes along? Like Glynna mentioned, it's a matter of working through the process and finding what works for you.

Got ya down for the drawing!

Audra Harders said...

Hey Walt!

Bridges are good. Even establishing the anchors on either end give you strong beginnings and ends. Good for you!

If we all wrote to a yellow brick road, what fun would that be?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Walt, baby...

I write like you do.

I know the beginning.

I know the end.

Duh... it's a romance. We ALL know the end, right?

But I love....

(Catholic confession time here...)

Torturing these poor folks. Taking them through the dark woods, their own personal Rubicon...

Oh mylanta, I've become so power-hungry because I USED to fix everybody too quickly. Such a mom.

Like Keli...

I drag out her status because tweaking an adorable control freak like her is


Yes, it is, yes it is. Oh my stars in heaven, saints be praised, yes it is!!!!

And Audra, you have my permission to yell at Mary. Seriously. Such whining over a case of the sniffles.

We all know how stoic I AM when sick. NOT!!!!

Mary, hugs and kisses to you, dear girl, I'm the ONE SEEKER who knows your pain, girlfriend, who would bring you lotion-treated tissues and hot lemonade to soothe your tired joints and sore nose.

That's because we're both whiners. She more than me, of course.

Have I mentioned I LOVE Gracie Bea Winterton's name?????

Gracie Bea.... Now that's a Cabbage Patch Doll right there, in our midst. Love it, love it, love it.

Mary Connealy said...

Wow, Audra, I can see from my former comments that I may be stoned on over the counter cold meds and not be responsible for my actions.
I believe I should not operate heavy machinery. And a computer may count.

Sneaking in a nap.

Mary Connealy said...

P.S. you really haven't live until you've received a cup of hot lemonade from Ruthy in the mail.
[note: no longer hot-also spilled, drat the carelessness of the post office! but thanks for trying, Ruthy-kins]

Debby Giusti said...

Fun April Fool's Day post!!! Love reading all the tricks Seekers and Seeker friends have pulled.

A few years ago (very few, actually) on my 40th birthday, a cp at that time and good friend left 40 pink flamingoes (the cheesy, plastic ones) in my front yard with a sign, telling the entire neighborhood of my advancing years. My family and I had been out of town and arrived home to view the fowl spectacle.

Friend called a short time later and asked daughter about my reaction. I told daughter to sound frantic and relay how I had starting crying, grabbed the car keys and screeched out of the driveway. She went on to say the family hadn't seen me in over an hour and they were worried.

Ah, yes, it was a long day for my friend but a nice payback for me! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Now about plotting and such...

I rely on my synopsis--though I hate to write them--to flesh out the major points in my story. Once the synopsis works, I do a very basic, short outline before I start to write. My first draft is a fast, free flow, which is fine tuned during the rewrite phase.

Audra Harders said...


I would never poo poo you, she said in a chenille tone of voice : )

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Audra, you wimp.

I'd poo poo her.

And twice on Sunday.

For pity's sake.

Audra Harders said...

Sandra, you, Ruthy and Mary...rabble rousers all!

But isn't it fun? I've learned ALOT from you guys : )

Audra Harders said...

Debby, you're such a fast thinker! I would have taken your fowl situation, and then days later come up with a great comeback! Love fast thinkers : )

And speaking of fast thinkers, you have to be a plotting whiz to write the books you do. Every element, detail, every clue is positioned just so.

Definitely instills in my brain that I am not a suspense writer!!

Audra Harders said...


Mary is sick.

We have to be nice to her.

Debra E Marvin said...

Planner! I like that one.

I plot like crazy and generally follow that but I love the thrill of the 'A-Hah!' moments that add a new level or turn me in a new direction.

Great ideas, everyone. Thanks Audra!

My word Verif. is Flarms. I think that's another word for flabby arms/bat wings.

Helen Gray said...


I'm not a commercial artist. I'm a Mom who used to have a propensity for getting involved.

At one time the local park board decided that, for a fund raiser, they would sell advertising to local businesses and put billboards all around the ball park fence.

In order to make a profit they needed to do the work in-house. Another Mom/teacher and I painted all the signs. We also kept score books for the coaches.


I registered!!!


Mary Connealy said...

Ruthy, Mary is sick.
We have to be nice to her.

I'm embroidering that on a sampler and framing it. I shall carry it with me everywhere. Along with a doctor's note.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary's sick all right.

Oh, mylanta.

Can't you just SEE her with a billboard????

One of those over-the-head ones????

I'd pay a pretty penny to see that, let me tell you.

Laughing in upstate!!!

Audra Harders said...


I like that. Actually, I have those!!

I think I smell another blog post brewing...

Debra, I like planner, too. I plan to plan and always hope for the best, LOL!

Pepper Basham said...

I confess (no surprise here) I'm a SOTP writer...and I keep trying to learn to plot. I'm better at trying to plan.
Is it any consolation to add that I live kind of like I write? :-)

And I'm with Ruthy - I know the beginning and the end. I even know a few scenes in the middle and I type them out on a 'chart' so I won't forget them.

I told Mary once (she might not remember because of the meds) that I have scenes written way before I get to them. Is that weird? Does anyone else do that?

I play the book in my head so much and so long that I watch the scenes happen then go write down the really good ones so I won't forget them.

Keli, Ruthy only teases the ones she loves ;-) Possibly to death. remember that. Did you hear the evil in her voice when she talked about torturing her characters?!? I was shivering...really. It's probably post traumatic critique syndrome - Ruthy style ;-) LOL

Thanks for the post. All the nice things you said about SOTP writing made me feel better. Myra's chart is very nice. It looks wonderful on my computer screen...and someday soon I hope to actually fill the blanks in.


Julie Lessman said...

AUDRA!!! I am SO sorry it has taken this long for me to show up. I have my son staying with us after his surgery because his wife is a resident on 32-hour call, so it's been crazeeeee!!

BUT ... man, did I love this post because like you, I am somewhat of a reformed SOTPantster, something I am reluctant to admit. And I totally agree with your advice to:

"Spend a few days – yes, days – working through your entire story idea. Once it’s on paper, the fun begins."

AMEN TO THAT!! I wrote A Passion Most Pure completely SOTP, then A Passion Redeemed and a Passion Denied with a fairly loose synopsis that didn't quite resemble the final books.

But when I sat down to write book 1 of my second series, A Hope Undaunted, I suddenly discovered that writing a continuing story with 16 ongoing characters via the SOTP method was NOT doable, at least for me. So I did exactly what you suggested and wrote three SUPER detailed synopses that my editor basically said read like mini-novels, and WHOA, BABY, did that pave the way for me to plow through those books. So I guess that makes me a reformed SOTPantster ... but, uh, a VERY organized (and happier) one, for sure.

Great post, Audra!!


Nicola said...

Hi Audra

How I love your post! It made me laugh and sigh and nod my head in agreement. I’m a SOTP writer too and I know where you’re coming from. I’ve got plotting books up to my ears and I still seem to scratch my head and just ‘get stuck in.’ Trying to force something just doesn’t work for me. I like to run with an idea, a character, a theme and then tweak and shape it as I go. I love the surprises you get as a SOTP when you’re in ‘the flow’ but I so agree about the rewrites. I giggled when I read your comment: “wouldn’t it be nice to free up time and disk space with a couple less versions of the Great American Novel??” You bet!

I’m really with Ruth about ‘feeling’ the story. That’s the key thing for me. I tend to work from feelings and emotions, it’s the thing that comes most easily to me about the characters. As for planning, I usually write a chapter or scene or two to get a feel for my characters and then I go back and flesh in the details and start questioning them as to their goals, dreams, insecurities etc. I’m always interested in learning and discovering new techniques, so thanks for your post and congrats on your debut novel – sounds great!


Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for the heads up, Pepper. Glad to know Ruthy loves me. Perhaps her version is what some refer to as "tough" love, or in my case "How tough can I be on little ol' Keli today" love. *grin*

She's not only helping me lighten up, but she's teaching me patience in the process. Did you notice she's making sure I don't graduate from Ruthy School too soon. Good practice for the publishing world, though, where things can move with the speed of molasses on a cold upstate New York winter's day.

Strutting off (neener neener, Ruthy) to spend time back in 1870 with my characters.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Wow, Helen, you are a reality now. Congrats on the registration. Is this your first conference???

Mary Connealy said...

Pepper you don't have to admit things you've said to me. I would never tell.

Think of me as a ship that never lands. ------Name that movie

Helen Gray said...


I attended conference in Minneapolis back in...I think it was '86. So I'm not sure I qualify for first timer programs.

This is my second writer life, and I need all the friendly conference mentors I can find.


Audra Harders said...

Pepper! I write scenes way before I use them, too. Actually, they're more like conversations between characters in the middle of nowhere : ) My characters talk to me and then I construct the scene around them. Helps cut down on narrative.

Keli, Ruthy really does love you. You've just got to have shots and a good back brace to survive her love : )

Cindy W. said...

I had a boss that I was very close to him and his wife. He called me in on April 1st and went into a long story of how things just weren't working out anymore and that he was going to have to take me out of the position of office manager and put me out on the floor working with customers. I totally believed him and when the tears started to fall he shouted April Fools. It took awhile for me to forgive him.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W


Pepper Basham said...

It's so nice to know someone else does my crazy stuff with writing too :-)

And ya know, I didn't have a twitch until after I started chatting with Ruthy. Do you think it's related? All that 'tough' love? ;-)

In truth, Ruthy, ya know I love ya. (twitch, twitch)

Missy Tippens said...

I'm a reformed SOTP writer, turned major plotter, turned planner. I have my charts to plan my characters and their internal conflict. I have my charts to show the main turning points. I have my charts to plan how the premise will develop. I know the ending. And then I start writing and watch what happens! Usually, I stick pretty much with the main skeleton of the story. But I've found there are some points I don't end up using.

For my current wip, I bought a program that I love! It's called Writer's Blocks. I've been filling in blocks for two or three chapters at a time. As I've been working, I've found I needed to change them some as I go. But the major tp's are the same. Right now, I only have about a chapter left till typing The End!

As far as pranks, one year on Apr. 1, I told my hubby I was pregnant. I think it was the first year we were married. Of course, it was wishful thinking on my part! :)

And for more pranks, can I tell something gross?? :) When i worked in the microbiology lab, someone would usually take a specimen cup and put in...Tootsie Rolls!! I got that done to me as a newbie. LOL

Debby Giusti said...

Ah, Missy, I can see that specimen now!!! :) Lab folks are unique, right?

Helen, can't wait to see you at the conference. Expect lots of Seeker hugs!!!

Audra, great post and a fun day! Thanks!

Audra Harders said...

Julie, I can't imagine grappling with 16 at once through 1 or 2 novels, much less 4,5,6!! You have to be organized and skilled at weaving loose ends together : )

And you are, dear. You are a master : ) Glad to hear there's hope for the SOTP beyond that first book : )


Audra Harders said...

Ah, Nicola, I do believe we attended the same school of novel writing - The Undergrad : ) I love the way SOTP let's you experience the story along with the characters, but there's a lot to say for expediency!

And I "feel" my way through the process, too. How in the world can you write a book if you don't experience the feelings your babies are having??

Glad I got you to giggle today : )

Audra Harders said...

Aww, Cindy! I hope you got a raise after the tears! Isn't it so embarrassing when you don't get the joke until it's so obvious you just want the earth to open up and swallow you whole?

Been there; done that!!

Audra Harders said...

Missy, I love new tools. Tell us more about Writers' Blocks. I'm all for anything that keeps me on track instead of taking a turn with a minor character or two : )

Debby, you guys are going to have so much fun at Nationals!! Have enought fun for me too as I check in 4-H projects for Fair!!

Missy Tippens said...

Audra, it's this cool program that helps me visualize my story. You can put blocks in columns. For me, each column is a chapter. Then I have 3 blocks in each one for my 3 scenes. I can color them to show the pov (blue, pink, and I use purple in a few scenes where I change POV during the scene). Then in each block, I briefly type what happens, changes that occur in romance arc, etc. I love it!

I still can't insert links in my comments, but it's writersblocks [dot] com. And they do have a free trial that I tried first. When I downloaded the trial, I got a coupon for something like $50 off.