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.
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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.
TWO WRITERS SHARING THE SAME SPACE.
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.
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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!