Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Guest Blogger Tracy Madison

Good morning! Well, I’m back from RT – had a blast visiting with old friends and making some new ones. I’ll give you the lowdown next week--with pictures of some hot guys. Today, Killer Fiction is thrilled to have Tracy Madison with us to talk about writing routines, plotters and writing by the seat of your pants. Sounds like a great topic!

And now for some great news to go with that great topic: Tracy is giving away a copy of A Breath of Magic to one lucky commenter, so please post a comment. Also, go check out Tracy’s website and read about the Month of Mysticism she’s running between April 26 and May 31st.


* * * * * * * *

Routines, Plotters, and Writing by the Seat of your Pants

I’m often asked what my writing routine is by non-writer friends and family members. Usually, my husband is with me when this question is asked, and he also gets the same question. You see, I’m not the only writer in my house. Huh-uh. One crazy person isn’t enough for my family. My husband’s (Jim N. Duncan) first book (an urban fantasy with a really cool new take on vampires) will be out in 2011 from Kensington Publishing.

So there are two of us insane people in my family.

In the same house.

In the same freaking office.


And guess what? Our writing routines couldn’t be more different.

My husband, bless his little heart, is a PLOTTER. So for him, answering the question “What is your writing routine?” is simple for other folks to understand. He figures out the story—every single aspect of the story—before he begins writing. This man, the man I chose to marry, plans every scene and what is going to be asked/revealed in that scene before he begins writing even once measly sentence of the story.

And I sort of want to smack him. Sometimes. Every now and then. Not that often at all, really.

Because I am not a pre-plotter. Oh, I know bits and pieces. I know my characters. I know the journey of the story. But how I’m going to get from Point A to Point B to Point C is a mystery until I get there. Heck, half the time all I know about the conclusion is “They will be in love and live happily-ever-after!” Yeah. Try writing a synopsis with that.

So, I get frustrated when I try to explain my routine/process/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, because what I do is more along the lines of instinctive writing. I start off with some basics, very, very basics, and then I start to write. I am quite methodical, however, as I don’t jump around in the story. I write in a very linear fashion. Scene one to scene two to scene three, etc. But I always get to a place where I have to stop. And think. And re-read what I’ve already done. And then think some more.

My husband, on the other hand, once he’s done with the plotting stage, just writes. His forward motion continues from that point with nary a bump in the road. Because he not only knows his destination, he knows every twist and turn on the way. So yes, when I’m in the middle of writing a book, and I’m staring at the same page for months and months (oh, okay, hours), and he’s over there typing away, I want to pick up a pen or a pencil and toss it at him. You know, just to stop the typing. For a few minutes, at least. J

But the truth is, no matter how frustrating my “routine” is, it’s mine. It’s what works for me. And yeah, it isn’t always easy, but I can’t change the type of writer I am. My husband can’t either. He attempted to go the “organic” writing route once, by plotting the story to the mid-point, thinking he’d have enough information in his head to write the rest of the book without the plot already figured out.

But guess what? He couldn’t. He was completely stalled and couldn’t write another word.

I admit I found this humorous. What? A wife can’t laugh at her husband? He laughs at me!

The point of this is that writers are unique. Every single one of us. We each take a different path to put our stories down, and none of those paths are wrong. For me, my best ideas don’t come to me before I write a book, they come to me while I’m writing. When I consider some of the amazing moments in my stories—moments I never would have thought of before I started writing the book—I can’t complain. Well, I can’t complain too much.

So yeah, there are days where Mr. Plotter is pounding away at his keyboard and I’m stuck. Where I’m frozen, staring at my screen with a tight, scary, suffocating pressure in my chest, wondering if this is the book that will not be finished. But then, somehow, I remember the type of writer I am, and that my stories evolve differently than his. And that’s okay. Because my way, as difficult as it can be, often feels like magic.

For example, my newest release, A Breath of Magic, is bar-none the most difficult book I’ve written to this day. And while there are a lot of external reasons that played into this difficulty, I also had a hard time connecting with my heroine, Chloe. And for me, that is the worst thing that can happen. My stories evolve from character. So it took me a while to really dig in and understand Chloe’s journey. But once I did, the story evolved beautifully. So much so, that A Breath of Magic has a special place in my heart, and now, it’s my favorite of the three.

And, at the end of the day, I’m not willing to give this type of magic up. Huh-uh.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not practicing my aim.

* * * *

Christie here again. I have a teaser for next week's blog - a pic I took at RT during the 2010 Mr. Romance Cover Model contest. Woo hoo!


Jenyfer Matthews said...

Tracey - your writing routine sounds very much like mine. I have a general idea before I start out, but make up the rest as I go along.

Sharing an office with your hubby though? Couldn't do it!

Michelle said...

Hi Tracy,

Glad to read your guest blog, and yes i'm very much like you as well. I can see the scenes in my head, but I can't get them to meld into a cohesive thought,lol. I would love to be able to write in a linear fashion, but my plot points end up all over the place and mostly seem like chunks of different stories with the same character. Course this is why I could never be a writer, that and my writing ends up sounding more like me because I write the way I speak.

Good luck with the new book and congrats to your hubby as well. That's awesome that both of you are being published.


Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Jenyfer! Yes. Sometimes sharing the same space is...frustrating. (And that's all I should really say in a public forum, lol).

You know what, Michelle? I have a very good friend who is multi-published, and she writes all over the place. She calls herself a "puzzler," because she writes scenes out of order and then has to go back and piece them together. Everyone has a different process, and none is truly better than the other. Oh, and your writing should sound like you, to a certain extent! That's your voice. The worst thing you can do is edit your voice out.

Thanks for commenting!

Christie Craig said...

Hi Tracy!

Welcome to Killer Fiction! I love your post. I can say I admire your ability to work in the same office with your hubby. I would kill mine. I almost kill mine when he's home on the weekends and I have a lot to do. Okay...I love him, but I still would kill him.

Thanks so much for guest blogging.


Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Christie! Thank you so much for having me here today!

And yes, there are days when I think it would be easier to hang out in my car with my laptop than share this office with HIM. :) But somehow, we struggle on.

Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Tracy and Christie. I'm a pantser, too, and I completely agree that all the best stuff comes during the process, but I'm trying desperately to learn how to plan ahead of time--at least the plot points and character arcs--in the interest of efficiency. Argh, argh, argh. It's not going all that well, but I figure one way to stay on track is to plan where each *scene* is going before I write it. Story in miniature; surely I can plot that! Maybe. If I remember to. It's sort of like when you make a list of resolutions, but you can't help forgetting some because you're concentrating on the others. Wonder why the plotting resolution slips my mind first?

Anyway, Tracy, you have my sympathy. And support. Congrats to you on A Breath of Magic (don't put me in the draw; I already have my copy!!) and to your dh on his upcoming novel.

Becky LeJeune said...

Hi, Tracy! Super excited that the new book is out. And now I can add your husband's to my list for next year.

I feel your pain with differing work processes between the two of you -- in the same house at the same time! I love working from home, but it's definitely challenging to have my SO in the other room. We don't even do the same job, but anytime he offers advice on how to do something, it's how he would do it. Ah well.

Linda Henderson said...

My ex-husband and I worked together for a while, notice I said ex. I admire you for being able to work in the same office. I'm not a writer, but I have a deep respect for anyone who can write a story. I wouldn't know where to start.

Tracy Madison said...

Hey, Barbara! One thing I should have said and didn't is that even though I am not a pre-plotter, I do figure out turning points kind of ahead of time. Not until the first three chapters are done, usually, though. This basic, basic roadmap at least keeps me somewhat on track. Sort of. And I do the same things with scenes...well, kind of. LOL, that's my process "Kind Of." Sigh. Thanks for stopping by!!!!

Tracy Madison said...

Aw, Becky, thanks so much for saying that! I love this book so much, I can't wait to see what readers think! And my husband has stopped offering my advice on writing, lol. I don't offer him mine, either. We do, however, brainstorm together often, and tha's very nice.

Tracy Madison said...

Hey, Linda! Yep, it sure is tough sometimes. But I think I'll keep him. Someday, I'll have my own office (and it will have a lock on the door!)

MsHellion said...

That would definitely make me crazy. *LOL* But I empathize. So much so that a lightbulb went off and said, "Is that why you're stuggling so hard with this book? You're not able to empathize with your heroine? Not really connect with her?" Because I don't really. I don't really understand her. I like her, but I like her hero better--HIM I get. He and I could drink beer and talk all day. But she is making me crazy. It doesn't make sense to me why she's so unhappy.


Zita said...

It's always interesting to me to learn about the wide variety of work styles. I think if I worked with my husband every day, all day, one of us would have to go. I'm just saying =).

Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Ms. Hellion (great name!). I wish I could offer you some advice on *how* to connect with your heroine, but again, what works for me probably won't for you, lol. What I did was just keep writing, reading, and more writing until she finally clicked into place. Then, naturally, I had a bit of cleanup work to do, but everything finally came together. Good luck!

Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Zita! Well, I've adjusted as much as is possible. But there are times I need to stay awake all night to write, just to get the office to myself. And I also love to learn how different writers get from page one to the end. I always learn something new.

Sandy said...

Christie, great hunks. I've heard about that Mr. Romance Contest.

Tracy, I write very much like you. I do have ideas for scenes, but it's very difficult for me to sit down and plot a whole book. lol

I liked the way you showed two different writing styles.

donnas said...

Hi Tracy,

Thanks for sharing!! Your books sound really good and I am looking forward to them. Congrats on the newest release!!

Refhater said...

Welcome to KF and congrats on A Breath of Magic

catslady said...

As a reader, it's fascinating hearing about how a book is written. If I were a writer, I think I would be a combination of both lol. Characters are definitely the main focus. If I don't care for the character, it's a loss cause for me.

Phyllis Bourne said...

Hi Tracy!

My writing routine is a lot like yours. It would be pretty tough for me to watch the hubby typing away while I'm banging my head against the wall.

Good luck to you and to him on his upcoming release!

Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Sandy! Um...yeah. If I had to plot every detail of my books before I wrote them, I have a feeling they wouldn't be very good. My brain just doesn't function that way. :)

Thank you, Donna. I hope you enjoy them!

Thank you, Refhater...I'm thrilled to be here today.

Tracy Madison said...

I'm the same way, Catslady. I can forgive almost anything in the books I read if I've connected with and care about the characters.

Thanks, Phyllis! I'll pass your congrats on to him.