Friday, October 8, 2010

Pam's Writing World

Now doesn't that look comfy?
.Yep, that's my writing spot. Actually, it's where I'm sitting right this minute as I type this blog post. It's right in the middle of my den with the rest of the family.
Yes, I do need a quiet spot to write more and more these days. This past summer my husband and sons were in and out of the house more than usual, so I spent several days writing in one of the Sunday school rooms at the church at the end of my driveway. It's nice and quiet there and I get a lot of writing done.
So, that's the where I write.
When is whenever I can since I have a full-time job, and work part-time as the ACFW Conference Treasurer.
.I suppose the next question is how do I write. Okay, this is the fun part!
My ideas come from everywhere. A song on the radio, a sermon, a picture. I log them into an idea file, and let them percolate. Sometimes I just have a title. That's how Terms of Indenturement, my historical romance that just won the ACFW Genesis contest and The Maggie came to be. I had the title for years and played with several ideas until the current idea set in 1790’s Natchez clicked into place.
Once I read a contemporary romance where the heroine ended up with a pile of stolen loot and chose not to return it. What would a Christian have done under those circumstances? Especially a woman in 1880’s with nowhere to go and no way of supporting herself, her elderly grandmother and her blind sister. That jumpstarted the idea that became Marrying Mariah, winner of a host of contests, including RWA’s Golden Heart.
Moving from the kernel of an idea to a book.
I have various methods of getting to the next stage of writing the book, but my favorite is to open a spreadsheet and start typing scene ideas. I just keep brainstorming ideas until my head spins. I’ll also run the basic idea by my critique partners and the Seekers and let them throw stuff at me. Anything goes at this point. It all goes into the spreadsheet, one scene idea per cell. My Terms of Indenturement plot spreadsheet has 176 scene ideas. Some are already obsolete, but I never delete anything. Who knows what direction the story might take before it’s done, or even after it’s finished in the rewrite?
Once I have a pretty good handle on the overall plot, I write the first few scenes, tweak, work on those scenes, fine-tuning my spreadsheet to match the live document that’s written in Word, contrary to rumors that I write in a spreadsheet.
.I don’t.
But I have seriously considered it! But in the long run, it just wasn’t feasible to get 1200-1500 words in a spreadsheet cell. This spreadsheet is a living document. It grows and changes as the story does.
.I’ve also found that I can plot out about 1/3 of the scenes and have to write those before I can plot out the next section. That’s not to say that I don’t have an overall idea of the major plot points, and a glimmer of the ending scenes, but just that I don’t know every little scene in detail until I get to that Act in the story.
Oh, and another cool thing that I’m doing this time around is concentrating on ACTS. I chose the 3 act structure as described in James Scott Bell’s book Plot and Structure.

Stay with me now.
Assume your novel has 360 pages, 32 chapters, give or take a few.
.Act I is the first 8 chapters / 90 pages
Act II the next 16 chapters / 180 pages
Act III the final 8 chapters / 90 pages
And around every 45 pages or so, or every 4 chapters you have a major TWIST or EXPLOSION of some kind.
Okay, okay, Mary has an explosion in every paragraph, and we need excitement and hooks to keep the reader turning the page at the end of every scene, like Julie talked about in her Seekerville post, The Tease, on Wednesday. But I’m talking about something that really throws the reader for a loop, a curve the reader didn’t see coming, something totally out of left field. It could be something physical as in your heroine is kidnapped, or it could be where the hero finds out that he’s not the street rat he thought he was, but the long-lost son of a king, or where a major plot point is revealed, like the hero admitting that he’s in love with the heroine even if it’s just to himself.
So, that’s the method to my madness, ladies and gents. It’s not smooth, and it’s not consistent, but it works. Sometimes it’s like catching and pulling the eye teeth of a mountain lion…without anesthesia, but so far I’ve finally wrestled that cat to the ground.
And you can too!
Feel free to share how you write, where you write, or even why you write.
Here is the ONE resource I must have handy at all times. The Synonym Finder, J. I. Rodale. One last picture of me actually WORKING in my writing space. You'll never know how many pics my son had to snap before we got one I was willing to share with the world! Where is Amber Zimmerman when I need her!!!
One lucky winner who comments today will receive their choice of a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift certificate.
Have fun, and I'll see you on the other side of the sun!


Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Oh my I don't write novels but I think I would be inspired on that cozy couch LOL! Congrats on the award and since historicals are my very fave I'm really looking forward to reading Terms of Indenturement!

XOXO~ Renee

Erica Vetsch said...

That looks like a great place to write. I also love that you go to a Sunday School classroom to write.

That Genesis Award is mighty purty!

Walt M said...

It's Walt and I'm up late, watching my Braves go down to defeat 1-0 and the fact that the umps totally blew a call that led to SF's one run is eating at me.

As for where I write, I love a good coffee shop. But I do need that synonym finder.

I'm trying to structure my newest WIP with the six stage structure I learned at M&M this weekend. It's a start.

KC Frantzen said...

Congratulations Pam, on... Well... Everything!

This was incredibly informative. Thanks so much.

My brain doesn't get to perkin' until about 11 or so, but my usual best time is at night. Always been a night person, but God's sense of humor dictated the love of my life would be a morning fella.

I'm not sure what I am right now. I do work much better in the quiet though, so I admire you folks who can tune it all out.

Thx again and you are lovely. I'll betcha tha( was photo #1!!

Helen's not here as of my typing so, I'll plug in the pot!

Helen Gray said...


Thanks for taking care of the pot. I may have to make you my assistant.


I write in my recliner, not really a good idea, since it leads to shoulder aches.

A new idea usually starts forming during the last half of the current project. I start jotting notes on scraps of paper, clipping articles that seem releveant, and printing anything I run into on the internet that seems to fit, and collecttng them in a folder.

When I'm done with the current project and ready to start the new one, I have a brainstorming session with my daughter and work out a skeleton outline.

I type the outline into a Word table rather than a spreadsheet. Then when I'm working through the story I copy/paste events and elements around as needed.

All the best on your wins. May they lead to the BIG win.


Helen Gray said...


I did know I meant the COFFEE pot, right?

Cheryl will sympathize with me on this one. :)


Crystal Laine Miller said...

Your writing places sound good to me. I currently am at a desk in the hallway. Already dogs and boys and husband have tracked through. I can barely concentrate most days. The chair is incredibly uncomfortable. Sometimes I sit on a ball that Deb Rainey suggested. I consider moving into a closet on the floor. ha.

I was so proud of you winning the Genesis this year. Your plaque is wonderful! And your methods sound good, as well.

Project Journal said...

Bahahahaah!!! Helen...too funny, girl!!!

I'll be back tomorrow to actually comment : ) LOL! Too to finish an episode of Grey's then SLEEP!!

Elizabeth@In Pursuit of His Excellence said...

Great info for me! Thank you, Pam. I like the 3 ACT Structure you wrote about!
Would love to win...of course!! Thanks for the opportunity!

Keli Gwyn said...

Congratulations on your many successes, Pam, especially that lovely Genesis award.

Thanks for a peek into your writing world. That couch looks mighty comfy.

Lee Smith said...

One of the things I need most is a clearly defined place to write. I move between writing in the office (which has a very uncomfortable chair, two other people using the space, and little space to move around and put "stuff" out that I need - and my couch with a netbook which I have to either bend over on the coffee table or balance on my lap. My husband loves all the piles of "stuff" I leave there when I've been writing. lol

I have Plot & Structure on my TBR pile and The Synonym Finder is never far from whichever computer I'm currently using. I love that book (it's also good for weightlifting). :o)

Great post! I love the thoughts on inspiration and the three act structure.

Amber S. said...

Nice writing spot! :) You're very organized in your writing methods--which must be great for actually getting work done! ;) I haven't had a whole lot of experience, but I've realized that the story I'm working on has kind of grown and changed from some of the original ideas for it--which is wonderful (at least, I hope so!). I guess since I'm not a deadline (yet...) it's been really nice to just think about my story and let it grow.

I think basic ideas of what I hope to convey in my WIP have stayed the same for quite a while, but then a lot of new twists and turns have been added, and hopefully a lot more depth. I love just thinking about all of the possibilities, and thinking about these characters that mean so much to me!

I just hope that God will use me, if it is His will, to write a story that will bring glory to Him and that will bless, encourage, and challenge others. :)

Anyway, I would love a chance at a gift card! Do we get extra entries for multiple comments...? ;) Just kidding! Mary can tell you what a hassle THAT was... ;)

Have a wonderful Friday everyone! I'm going to be spending the day with my parents!!! Yay!



Camy Tang said...

What a comfy couch, Pam! I can also relate to that Sunday School classroom--I have been known to go into the church office (with a locked door, no less!) to write for half an hour after youth group on Saturday nights!

Holly Rutchik said...

And I just bookmarked this post. Just starting to think about moving from non-fiction to fiction but didn't know where to start! Great post!

Renee said...

As always, Seekerville is the place to find helpful information for all of us who write in some way, shape, or form--even if we're unpublished. Thanks, Pam, for all the good tips!

And I love your cozy couch. I have a desk, but when I need to think deeply I need my comfy, overstuffed, ladies club chair--with a pretty pillow. Congrats on your award!

Renee said...

Oh, and I wouldn't mind winning a prize . . . reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com . . . but I don't stop in because of the loot!

Dianna Shuford said...

Pam, I'm still clapping for your Genesis win!

Your writing space looks great. The space I set up for myself is actually in my master closet. I put a desk and a small bookcase & filing cabinet in the midst of our clothes and shoes. It works great for me because I can shut the door and keep the family at a distance while I write. Most times it helps keep me from being distracted.


Julie Hilton Steele said...

Great resources! Thanks for a look at your writing spot and the knowledge that sometimes it has to be moved!

My spot is my studio above our garage. I surround myself with art and my art supplies. I don't have a play list. I just put handmade things around me.

Helen, your first comment woke me up this morning...thank for clarifying ;-)

Peace, Julie

Kirsten Arnold said...

I write anywhere and everywhere. And like you, Pam, my ideas come from all over. About halfway through my current project one of the secondary characters started screaming for his own story. So, I started jotting down what he was telling me (and since he was quickly becoming my favorite character) and now I'm working on a sequel to a story I thought would be a stand-alone.
Another idea formed as a friend told me about this case he just served on the jury for. Really, it was too great and the book almost writes itself.
Thanks for sharing your methods. And the Synonym Finder looks like it might be my next investment.


CarolM said...

That looks like a very wonderful place to write. I have a very comfy chair that I prefer :).

I've got Bell's book on order. Maybe it'll show up soon ;).

Thanks for the tips!

carol at carolmoncado dot com

KC Frantzen said...


Guess I didn't last as asst. too long' did I? (That thought did cross the mind but I thought, not a problem in Seekerville.) *Egads...

Amber, beautifully put.

Y'all are one creative bunch. Look at all the varying spaces we utilize!!


Hi, Camy!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Morning, Pamster.

Great photo of you.

How neat to get a glimpse into your world!!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Pam! What a cozy, comfy writing corner you have! And congrats again on the Genesis and Maggie!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Pam, I love picturing you there, in the den, working away, spilling genius across previously blank sheets.

(Already she'll think I'm sucking up for something, and yet, I'm not. Shh...)

And your wonderful organization pays off in a well-thought plot, structure, word use. Marvelous stuff, Hillman.

I brought food. Friday fare. Welcome the weekend wonderfulness:

Stuffed French Toast with strawberry or apple topping.

Sausage and gravy.

Biscuits, Paula Deen style, slather with butter or gravy to your level of deliciousness.

Whipped cream.

Fruit (sigh, that's a nod to people who want Mueslix (read: people chow) and fruit.

Also a pot of warm oatmeal with dishes of chopped nuts, brown sugar, maple syrup and fresh cream to the side.

Dig in, thank God for an amazing week and praise him that it's FRIDAY!!!!!

Yee haw.

Rose said...


Lovely picture of that award! Again, congratulations!

I have two spots in my house that I write. One is my office, the other is the library (it was once a family room). I get quite a bit of writing done in both rooms because there is no distraction like television.

RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

Kirsten Arnold said...

@Ruth, Have you seen the Paula Dean breakfast sandwich where it's a hamburger, egg and cheese between two Krispy Kreme donuts! Talk about needing a Mylanta chaser!

Sorry for the sidebar.


Patty said...

Hey Pam! It's great to see where genius is born! Because that what your writing is--pure genius!

I write in a couple of different places. One is in our family room, in a recliner with my big old Vera Bradley super tote loaded down with my writing stuff. Its also easy to carry to my other favorite place to write--the library. I write in the young adult section mainly because the chairs are comfortable.

And my must have writing book--the Flip dictionary! Couldn't write without it!

I may have to bug you into teaching how to use spreadsheets for plotting--my husband uses them to do our family budget on so I give a bit antsy around them.

Again, Congratulations on your recent wins! I consider it an honor just to be listed in the same catagory as you.

Patty Smith Hall

Audra Harders said...

Pam, aka The Spreadsheet Queen, you are brilliant as usual. Every piece of your writing life locks together perfectly.

When I grow up, I want to be just like you!!

Honestly folks, you should see what Pam can do with a spreadsheet! I'm so envious of your organized, logical methods of creating great books -- award winning stories that will wind up best sellers!

And of course, the comfy leather couch is all bonus, LOL!

KC, Helen, pass the coffee pot. It's Friday and this morning is starting very slowly. Good thing Ruthy brought a great feast!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Pamster, I love, love, love that couch and the photo of you in it. And wow, that award is fabulous.

I am always so impressed with your spreadsheets. You are amazing and so is your writing. At least with your spreadsheets you don't get a character with brownhair in one scene and blond in another. LOL

KC we have so much in common we are going to have to meet some day. My hubby is the nightowl though and I go to bed early and he prowls around with the motorhome or house to himself. He sleeps in and I get up early and have everything to myself. It is how we stayed married so long. So use that girl. Get hubby to bed early and you get all that writing time.

Pepper Basham said...

Oh PAM!!!
Your writing world sounds like mine.
Love you all the more for it.
I own both Bell's book and The Synonym Finder (thanks to Julie's prodding :-)

Thank you, thank you - for describing how that 3 act plot structure looks in chapters. I know it's a dynamic animal, of sorts, but that really gives a nice basic framework to go by.

My ideas come from everywhere too. I just read a newspaper article about a young man found on a beach who couldn't remember who he was.
Oooo, now how would THAT feel?
And since I work with individuals who have traumatic brain injuries, I can fill in some of the blanks about amnesia. His kind is rare, but it still happens for real.

So my brain is brewing up a possible story - but I'll have to wait on that one for a while. I'm already behind in the story creation to completion process :-)

Congrats on your Genesis win, Pam. SOOOOO glad I got to witness it in person :-)

Sarah Forgrave said...

I love how you said you don't delete any of the scene ideas. I'm scared of deleting anything, so I have about 100 versions of my worksheets and my drafts. :)

Congratulations on the Genesis win! I was so happy for you when I heard your name called!

Rebekah E. said...

Looks like a comfy place to write. Thanks for coming today.

Teri Dawn Smith said...

I also write with The Synonym Finder at my side. : )

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, Pam. I plan to check on your books! I am not a writer, but love to read.....and would enjoy the gift card offer!!

Lisa Jordan said...

Have laptop...will travel!

I love your cozy writing spot, Pam. I have a comfy chair in the corner of my living room where I do a lot of writing when I need to be with my family. When I need solitude, I escape to my writing desk situated in a doorless closet in my playroom.

lisajordanbooks at yahoo dot com

Digging for Pearls said...

Hi Pam,

Your couch looks so comfortable! :) Although it looks so much so, that I might fall asleep if I was trying to write there. Hence why I sit at a desk in my dining room. I know, odd place for a desk and computer.

On my desk I have photos of the lighthouse I'm writing about. How's that for inspiration? I also have ready access to writing books, since my desk has built in bookshelves. Above my head is a sign - No Whining. :)

I write because it's a passion built into me. It's part of who I am. I find such joy when I'm writing. All right, some days it's pure hard work, but most times it's utter joy!

Jodie Wolfe

Pam Hillman said...

Good morning all! I can't stick around today. I've got to go to the ol' day job. I had planned to take off today and write and chat, but a couple of other people needed to be off, and I have a critical meeting this morning as well.

Helen, speaking of aching shoulders. I MORE than know what you're talking about. I changed venues and put my laptop on the breakfast table a few weeks ago, and was going to church to write, as well as spending 8 hours on a computer at work.

12-14 hours sitting at a computer in almost the same position nearly killed my arms.

So, since I work at a computer all day as a purchasing manager of an OEM company, the recliner is better than another table at home.

Pam Hillman said...

Lee, I dream of my own office space too. As a matter of fact, we build a detached garage/farm/storage building years ago.

Huge thingy.

Had about 18x20 room that we called the play room. Right now it has a weight lifting machine and some of my son's furniture in there.

I have dreams of turning it into a writing cave.

BUT, my very savvy mil said that I would not be happy out there.

And in one way, I think she might be right. Am I really going to want to go out there at 2 in the morning? Maybe, maybe not.

Maybe I'll still fix it up some day with surround SHELVES, instead of surround sound!

And, Crystal I don't write well with the fam in and out. Hence the jaunts to the Sunday school room on the days that they're going to be at the house all the time.

Mary Connealy said...

I love the 'going to church to write' idea. A quiet building that is empty much of the week, with a nice, peaceful spirit about it.

Of course my church isn't at the end of my driveway. It's a twenty minute drive. So not a bit convenient.

Mary Connealy said...

You've all heard of Toasted Skin Syndrome, right?

Lap Top related.

Tori Lynn said...

Great post, Pam! I love hearing how real writers do it! (I especially love it when it's some of the same things I do and I can go, "Hey, published writers do it, too! I'm not as weird as I thought!")
I have to have privacy and quiet when I write and I don't care where I am. I have files and files of story ideas, inspiring articles, and deleted scenes.
The spreadsheet idea sounds like what I need. I keep all my stuff laid out in Word and I tend to have 10+ documents up at a time.
Thank you again, Pam for taking the time to share with us!


mary bailey said...

I love a good inside peek into a writer's world, especially their writing environment. Thanks for sharing! Sunday School classrooms are great---I love it when my son has Bible Drill on Sunday nights and I get to go into an adjacent room to read and write. So quiet and peaceful!


karenk said...

i love your cozy leather looks like a fabulous writing spot...congratulations on your award....looking forward to reading your work :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Charlotte said...

Thanks for sharing your writing practices and being "real". I love it that you write in the den with your family! Thanks for sharing the title of the thesaurus you use. I'm going to try to locate it.

I also relate to taking lots of pictures to approve the one posted. My husband says that's vanity, but I think it's just good common sense! LOL

May God continue to bless you as you write Christ-centered reads!

Audra Harders said...

LOL! Toasted Skin Syndrome!

I stopped putting my laptop on my thighs because I thought I'd damage the LAPTOP, not my skin!

One little gadget that makes our lives easier requires so many could almost call it a daughter, LOL!

Sherry Cahill said...

Let me just say, that I love, love, love when writers share the where and how of their writing. Thank you for that.

I have a desk I write at most of the time, but it's in grand central of our house, so thanks to a lap top, I can move around to quiet spaces when needed.

I'm still perfecting the how. I have a word file, full of ideas that are percolating. I pull them out one at a time and write the opening scenes. I brainstorm in my head all the possible places I can go with the story, but often feel I could do so much more.

I love the idea of brainstorming all the possible scenes in a spreadsheet. I'll have to try that.

I will have to try it with a story idea that I've been stuck on.

Thanks for a great post.

Casey said...

I love how you said you catalog all the ideas that get thrown your way. And I do have James Scott Bell's book, but it was good to be reminded about the EXPLOSION issue. I tried to add as much tension as I could to my current WIP, not I just need to know if it was enough. :) Great post, I have a lovely little writing nook too, my bunkhouse. *grin*

Angela Bell said...

Congrats on all your success including that lovely Genesis Award.

I write in my room, on my comfy bed, with the door closed. It's the only place in my crowded house where I can find semi-silence. :-)


flchen1 said...

Thanks for sharing your writing spot, Pam! I'm not much of a writer, but I think I'd be too cozy in your couch to get anything done :) That does look like the perfect reading spot, too!

Vickie McDonough said...


It's really cool to get a glimpse into your writing life. Congratulations on your Genesis win! I can't wait until you announce your first book sale. I know it's coming soon. And you should have said you work full-time for ACFW. :)

That couch sure looks comfy!

Charity said...

Cant' wait to read your new book, Pam:) Looks interesting.


Mary Connealy said...

By the way, I LOVE the couch. I think I might need a new couch.

I asked my husband about it and he made such a shallow response.

But...nobody ever sits on it.

While I agree that's true, it doesn't really seem to be the point.

If someone DID someday come over...and event that is unlikely, I'll admit. And in the unlikely event they came over and we didn't sit around the kitchen table...That happened once in 2008 and once in 2003...but moving on...the couch is just so BEEN THERE DONE THAT!!!

It's thirteen years old.

To which my husband points out his mother's couch is 45 years old.

Which is true. And it still honestly, looks pretty good....

Anyway, nice couch Pammy.

Kav said...

I'm drooling over your comfy couch since I'm couchless at the moment. :-) I think I'd fall asleep if I was that comfy while writing!

I write anywhere I can grab a few minutes. Do lots of handwritten stuff first during the day and then when I'm nearly brain-dead at night I transcribe it onto the computer, tweaking as I go. I have two jobs and bus everywhere so I've had to learn to tune out my surroundings and just write.

And thank you for that ACTS formula -- I've never heard of it before and it looks like something I could use that would help me keep my story on track. I keep getting derailed lately! LOL.

Pepper Basham said...

Did Audra say something about her daughter having toasted skin?

I really shouldn't come in on the middle of conversations.

Charity said...

Like everyone is saying, that couch looks very comfortable:) I like sitting on my bed but it does get uncomfortable typing on the laptop at times.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Congratulations on your awards, Pam! It must feel mighty nice.

I write at a small desk in the corner of our dining room. I used to be at the dining room table, but was getting carpel tunnel symptoms due to incorrect posture and reaching for the mouse. So I installed a small desk in the corner and my wrist is much better!

But I do dream of my own office one day - when the kids move out!

Thanks for a glimpse into your world!

sbmason (at) sympatico (dot) ca

PS. Julie must be sleeping in after her big party last night!

Linnette R Mullin said...

Pam, I use my living room, as well. I have four boys and have this amazing ability to tune everyone out when I'm in the zone...much to their frustration. The house could be on fire and I would be oblivious.

I enjoyed your article. I always love reading how other authors come up with stories and their whole writing process.


lr . mullin at live . com

Mary Connealy said...

Oh, also, I think it's cool that your Genesis plaque gets it's own chair.


runner10 said...

Congrats on your award!!
Very good tips for writing!


Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Just got a copy of "Simply Books" from Harlequin and there was a two page article about Seekerville in it.

Everyone looked great in the huge photo of the Seekers and the tone of the article that Ruth wrote really reflected the mood that is always here; fun, supportive, and of course full of food! :)

You must all still be on cloud nine when you stop and think about the success you have all achieved.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

Myra Johnson said...

What a fun post, Pam! Nice to get a glimpse into your writing world!

Yes, the "toasted skin" thing was a Good Morning, America feature this week. And they said putting your laptop on a pillow is worse for the laptop because it restricts air flow.

And sofas? I think our living room sofa/hide-a-bed dates back to 1979. The den sofa/recliner is from 1994. I figure as long as the fabric hasn't faded to ash gray and the springs haven't worn out and aren't poking anyone in the you-know-what, hey, who needs new furniture?

(I'm just saying that because I would really LOVE to have furniture that actually matches and a house that looks like a showroom, but it's just so impractical. And really, there are so many more fun things to spend money on.)

Holly said...

It's always so neat to hear the different approaches to writing. I've always just sat and wrote whatever, but that is probably why my senior thesis project ended up so disjointed. It's a good thing we weren't expected to turn in a fully completed work in a semester.


Debra E. Marvin said...

Great post Pam! I love my Rodale Synonym finder...well, I call it my cinnamon finder but it really helps when I stall. Love seeing your Genesis plaque!!

PatriciaW said...

I don't have a dedicated writing space so I write wherever I can. Lately, that's been in a folding chair with the laptop on my knees. For some reason, it's been more comfortable than anywhere else and I've gotten quite a bit done.

I've tried pantsing and plotting and I'm definitely somewhere in the middle. This time, I have a synopsis of sorts that keeps evolving as the writing progresses. I haven't gotten to the end of the story in my head so I haven't gotten there in my synopsis either, but as I think of major plot points, I describe in loose terms how I get there. Then, I use that as a reference point for writing the actual scenes/chapters. It seems to be working, although this time my writing is a bit circular, not in linear chapter by chapter fashion. That seems to be working too.

Janet Dean said...

Pam, Huge congratulations on all your contest finals!!! I loved hearing how and when and seeing where you write. I can't imagine writing on a couch with a laptop. The keys are tiny and I'm all thumbs! But you look comfortable, totally in charge of your domain, even with the hectic schedule you keep. I'm impressed!

Breakfast was delicious, Ruthy! Thanks!

Mary, I've heard of toasted skin syndrome. Anyone experienced it?


Ruth Logan Herne said...

People buy couches?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Let me just say I remember when the Genesis didn't give a gorgeous plaque.

Although I LOVE my paper certificates.

But it does look real nice in its chair. Nicer yet that Pammers kicked the kid and the dog off the chair first.

Cara Lynn James said...

Pam, I have a leather recliner loveseat and it's great! It's my favorite place to write. I think you're much more organized and disciplined than I am. I couldn't hold down a demanding, full time job and still write. My hat is off to you!

Pam Hillman said...

Someone mentioned wanting to read Terms of Indenturement.

Alas, it's not available yet as a published novel, although I hope it will be someday....sooner rather than later, we hope1

For our newest Seeker friends, *I* am the last holdout on Unpubbed Island. I have Tina's AND Ruthy's posh huts to myself.

When our month-long Seekerville party is over, my only companion will be Captain Jack and an obnoxious Macaw that Missy left me.


Feeling sorry for me yet?

Pam Hillman said...

Yes, the writing spot does have to be moved sometimes. I didn't think I could write at church in the Sunday school room, but I got a lot more done there than at home.

And it wasn't just because of the family interruptions, but it was because I didn't have the internet or a load of clothes that needed washing, or need to hop up and check the pot roast in the oven.

One day at church, I wrote a few pages, then stopped, gazed off into space trying to think what needed to happen next. Finally I worked it out, and got started again. Ended up writing about 4000 words that day in about 5-6 hours.

It occurred to me that if I had been at home, I would have probably gotten up when I hit that snag and did something else, or checked my email.

Checking email is not good for me, because if I have an email that requires a response, I feel compelled to take care of it.

So, even though my couch is lovely and comfy, I do need to spend more time offsite away from distractions.

Pam Hillman said...

Rose, radio and or television definitely distracts me. I can handle people coming in and out every few hours, but if it's constant with family talking to me, I have to move to a quieter spot.

Hence the laptop.

Oh, and I have one of those little fan thingies that my son bought. So, no burnt thighs.

Pam Hillman said...

Patty, I'll holler back at you on the spreadsheets.

I've written a bit at the library, or in the food court at the mall while the teenagers (before they had licenses) cruised the mall, but just the shadow of movement pulls me out of the story.

I can do it, and I do, but I prefer a quiet corner somewhere with no distractions, no phones, no cell, no internet, and no voices.

Doesn't always happen, but when it does, I seem to get a lot more done.

Pam Hillman said...

Pepper, I'm told everyone has to write an amnesia story in their career.

Hands raised? I got one! lol

My premise: Would a Christian with amnesia remember her faith?

Also, that 3 Act description of placing chapters should be very fluid. For someone who writes 20 page chapters, it would be very different, k?

For me, it just helps break it all up, so that I know that at certain points this or that needs to happen.

I'm a linear thinker, and it works for me to be shooting toward a target.

Pam Hillman said...

Tori Lynn's comment reminded me of something...

I used to have some research in Word and some in an excel spreadsheet. As much as is humanly possible, I put everything related to a wip in ONE spreadsheet.

Robin Miller tried to introduce me to OneNote, but I haven't gotten the knack of it. I might try again. Dunno. I like my spreadsheets. lol

Pepper Basham said...

I just started using OneNote about a month ago and LOVE it.
So, I'm trying it out from the beginning with my wip. So far so good. It's a good 'visual' organizer for me - and I need all the help I can get.

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, I forgot...

When I used to take my sons to Boy Scouts, I commandeered one of the SS rooms rooms at the church that hosted the Scouts. I had about 2 hours to write uninterupted.

So, I've written....

In the mall
In the den
In the bedroom
In the breakfast room
In the dining room
In Sunday School rooms
In the library
In the car
In hotel rooms
In the park

Oh....this is too funny...

Dh is a cowboy. One year we went to Branson, MO on vacation, just the two of us. One son was at Army Basic training and the other was on a spelunking trip with the Boy Scouts. Dh wanted to go to the stockyard one day while we were on vacation.

I was cool with that.

So, we went to West Plains, MO, and I commandeered a little room away from the noise of the sale barn and the crowd, and wrote a whole chapter while he enjoyed the cattle sale.

Pam Hillman said...

Charlotte, if you dh saw the pics my son took, he would be singing a different tune.

Trust me.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Pam: First of all, congrats on that Maggie and the ACFW! So happy for you. Here's praying that next we see your story in print!

I often write on my couch, too. Sometimes I sneak off to the local coffehouse and drink green tea and type.

Thanks for sharing your process and page/act breakdown. Very informative.

Helen Gray said...


Pepper and I are sitting on a raft anchored just off the island.

If you get lonely, just reel us in!!


Cindy W. said...

I love your couch. I have to say that everyone here at Seekerville is an inspiration to me. To know that most of you work a full time job as well as write. Awesome. now I just have to give myself a kick in my derriere (now that would take talent)and get busy with all my characters and plots.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Pam Hillman said...

Popping in for just one second! I'm in the door and right back out. Heading to an old fashioned camp meeting with dh and his 92 yo grandmother.

Can't wait to read every last comment!

Patsy said...

It's good you can go to a Sunday school room and write. I think about the rooms in my church and like I know how quiet they are when no one is there. Couch sure does look cozy though. I think our church library would be a good place to write too.

Joy Tamsin David said...

I love to see how people write. Thanks for letting us into your world. I like the Storyfix guy's 4 Part Story Structure. That really works for me.


Joy G LeeG @aol. com

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Pam,
Love the info about how you write and the photos of your world! Couch looks so comfy! Hope your arms and shoulders are better!

I enjoyed reading everyone's messages today. Seems most of us write whenever and wherever we can. Often in the strangest places. But it all works!

Love that Genesis Award, Pam, and a big congrats on the Maggie win!!!

Julie Lessman said...

PAMMY!!! Sooooo sorry I am late, but it's been a CRAZZZZZZYYYY week!! Speaking of which, thanks for coming by the FB Party ... sorry I didn't get a chance to say "hey."

And the Synonym Finder is my absolute BIBLE when it comes to writing ... I would be LOST without it!!!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Love this! Can't wait to see your name on the front of a book cover!


Pam Hillman said...

lol – Apparently everyone loved the leather couch. You should have seen the couch we had before. It was falling apart due to two boys who would race down the hall the throw themselves over the back of it.

Someone mentioned matching furniture and a showroom house....

I am ROFLOL here!!

Do you wonder why you all got ONE little picture of a (dusted, ahem) loveseat, a laptop with some neatly arranged writing books beside it?

Ha ha!!!

Man, do I have you guys fooled….

Pam Hillman said...

Pepper, glad you like OneNote. I think I would like it, but I just don’t have time to devote to the learning curve. Or at least I don’t think I do!

Pam Hillman said...

Helen, waving and you and Pepper to come join me on Unpubbed Island!!!


You can have your pick of huts!!!

Thanks for the wonderful day and all the comments.

I were all drooling over my couch...ha ha!

But even though I couldn't be here to comment much, Allen Arnold with Thomas Nelson says that the sign of a successful party is when the hostess(es) introduce the guests to each other and the guests have fun even while the hostess is mingling with others.

Seekers and Seeker friends know how to party and are comfy with each other.

And that kind of beach-bum comraderie can't be beat!!

Luv ya all!!

Pam Hillman said...

PS. Don't forget that one commenter on this post wins a $20 B&N or Amazon gift certificate.

The winner will be announced in Sunday's WE, so stop back by to see if YOU won!

Jill W said...

I'm not sure if I would get much writing done on that couch. It looks so comfy, I'd like to curl up with a good book and maybe take a little nap. :) The Synonym Finder sounds like a great reference book to have on hand. Thanks for a great post Pam!

shawnie said...

Congrats on your many achievements. I'm new to this site/blog and have already found the information to be extremely useful. My writting spot is on the side of my bed with my laptop on a tv tray and my radio going. It seems that music is my inspiration!so far I've kept the ideas in my head, and if I'm inspired for a future chapter or dialogue, I open another word document and save it to a particular folder. My trusty thesauraus always a reach away I can settle myself down with the story in my head, patiently waiting to come to life!
Thanks everyone, Shawnie

Missy Tippens said...

Pam, I'm late to the party! I was out of town late last week.

What a fun post! It's so nice to get to see your work space. And you know, I remember another writer going to her church to work in a Sunday School class! I can't remember who it was, but she said she liked to have a nice long table to lay out paper and work on plotting out scenes. :)