Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Outlining versus Pantsing, and... Brainstorming Doesn't Just Happen

If you are one of the wonderful people who read When in Gnome, then you know that Evie, who was adopted, set out on an adventure to find her roots. This adventure really took off when she got her car stuck in the mud and was forced to stay overnight at Rosewood, the plantation home where her mother was born and raised. As irksome as getting stuck may have been, it was necessary in order for events to play out the way they did.

I bring this up because sometimes I feel stuck in a story. I always have an outline, but it's really just a list of major things that I expect to happen in that order in the story. Actual mileage between these major points may vary. That being said, I'm thinking I'm a 50/50 outliner/pantser.

1. One who pantses.
2. A person who flies by the seat of his or her pants. 
3. A term often used in the realm of writing to describe a person who does not rely heavily on outlining.
4. A derogatory term used by writers who sweat blood over outlines to describe those free-spirited ones who seem to manage well without an outline. 

When I first attempted to actually write a story, I wrote a great beginning and then stopped because I had no idea where it was going. I had set the stage. I had a few characters and this great atmosphere, but I wasn't sure what the acts would actually involve. So, my stories tended to fizzle out.

As I matured as a writer and had a better understanding of story structure and plot, an outline became vital, a safety net that let me refocus so that I always knew where I was going. But there's still a whole lotta pantsing going on between those milestones.

I think this pretty much sums up my personality because I'm about 50/50 on the left/right brain dominance. I like structure at work, but I let my hair down at home. I like knowing expectations and parameters while, at the same time, wanting to make the most of freedoms. I'm 50% analytical over-thinker and 50% fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants free spirit.

As I write the rough draft of No Place Like Gnome, it occurs to me that I only had the vaguest notion of what I expected to happen in the story. I had a major idea, and, following quickly on the heels of the release of When in Gnome, I wrote about four chapters. I thought I was just going to jump right back in and pick right up where I left off, but it wasn't that easy.

"Ideas don't just happen unless you're actually thinking about them."

My ideas were undeveloped at that point. As I explained in the last post, I needed to let the ideas ferment a while and grow some subplots, to mix metaphors. Of course, ideas don't just happen unless you're actually thinking about them. Months can go by. Years even.

Which brings me to my point....

I don't really like to think of being stuck as "writer's block". I always have ideas. I just don't always know where to put them. To me, being stuck is like being at a crossroads. You have options, and the point that many call being stuck is simply a place where I find that I have to make decisions. I can turn right, turn left, or go straight ahead. There are times when I decide that the best course of action is, simply, to turn around.

That being said, there are those scenes that I know where something happens, and maybe it's major or maybe it's reactive, and I haven't really decided how it's going to flow. Sometimes, it's best for me to just leave a section of my document with a few notes of what I think will happen here and move to the scenes that I am able to clearly visualize. So, writing doesn't have to be linear.

I find it easiest, until I am finished with the first draft, to have my chapters, or scenes, titled with descriptions, and I have those Summary Descriptions (ex: The Investigation) set at a Header in Styles, so that the description shows up on the navigation pane. If I decide to move things around, I can click and drag that scene without cutting and pasting. Of course, you should always reread to make sure it flows and that you haven't overlooked something that is out of sequence.

I spent most of the past week brainstorming on the book, and I came up with some exciting ideas about the story, and I think it's possible that this book may be even better than the first book. Ideas kind of bubble up from different places, and, in this case, it was a song that gave me a good idea for a twist in the story.

As mentioned near the beginning of this post, everything doesn't always turn out the way that I originally plan. There were some changes that had to be made because, however interesting the result might have been, I just wasn't comfortable with the idea and didn't want readers to suffer with a horrible cliffhanger.

I think what I came up with will be just as interesting, if not more so. I would like to think that, in most cases, my episodes of being stuck, were actually just indicators that I needed to proceed in a different direction from what I had previously thought. It's not a matter of just getting out of the mud and plunging ahead, but it may actually be a way for my subconscious to flag me down and prompt me to reconsider my chosen path.

Until next time.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Update on Book Two

The blog got an upgrade today! Some areas are still under construction, but I hope to have things ironed out soon. I just wanted to give you an update on the LONG-anticipated Book Two of the series and kind of let you know what the issues have been.

The main issue has been the author. I got very distracted. I finished and published a children's book, and then I proceeded to get distracted.

Of my last two books that I have finished, those were mostly written in less than a year, after I put the pedal to the metal and aimed to finish them. I mainly had to get cover art, hire an editor, finish/rewrite a few chapters, and finish formatting. That sounds like a lot, but I already had most of a book in the months leading up to publication. After I published that second book, I really didn't have any other rough drafts in progress. I had spent the previous two years reaping, and it was time to start sowing again. I hope that makes sense.

That being said, I had about four chapters written and a vague idea of what I expected to happen in Book Two of the Gnome Sweet Gnome series. The more I tried to work on it, the less I realized that I knew about how it would go. While waiting for the book idea to "ripen" and develop more complex plots and subplots, I finished another book and began generating a lot of new ideas. So, waiting for Book Two to get ripe enough to write so that I knew where it was going, generating new ideas, and getting overwhelmed by "real life"--these have been some of the major reasons that I haven't completed Book Two before now.

I wish I could tell you that negative people didn't affect me at all, but I had had more positive reviews than negative ones, and I just wanted to let you know that I truly and deeply appreciate those who took the time to write such wonderful words. 

You may have noticed that Book One is not currently available. I will be making some minor changes and re-releasing it with a new cover when I am closer to finishing Book Two. I am not sure, at this time, exactly when that will be. I currently have about 25K words written, and I took time out today to edit the website and try to get a little organized.

Thank you for hanging in there and checking on me. Now that I took the time to take care of a little "business", I'll be getting back to writing so that readers can find out as soon as possible what is going on in Evie's world!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fun Werewolf Read

5 Signs Your Son Is a Werewolf by Akshay G is a fun short read over at Medium.com.  If you're hankering for a short, wolfy read, check it out.



Sunday, March 6, 2016

Giveaway and Playlist

Two things:

First, the extended version of the When in Gnome playlist is on Spotify.

Second... I'm running a limited-time giveaway on the Kindle version of When in Gnome.  Download for free here.

Now, back to writing No Place Like Gnome.



Monday, February 29, 2016

Blog Tour: Day 7


Happy Leap Day!  Today marks the last day of the blog tour.  I'd like to thank Bewitching Book Tours, all of the blog owners who hosted my book on their sites, and all of the readers who stopped by, commented, and entered the drawing. 

It's been a fun week.  However, all things eventually come to an end.  Before we head home, there are three more stops on the tour:  an interview by Booklover Sue, a review by Apocalipstick, and a top-ten list written by yours truly on Fang-tastic Books.

Booklover Sue
Top Ten List
Thanks to everyone for a great time and checking me out on social media.  Make sure you get in on the drawing before it's too late.  I'm excited to find out where I'll be mailing signed copies of When in Gnome.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Winding Down the Blog Tour: Day 6

Today, the blog tour takes us to Goodreads.com, actually all the way across the pond, where Naturalbri has posted her review of the book. Curious what she had to say?  Go check it out.

I also added some other books to my list while I was there, and I'll be stalking her future reviews for something to read.

Tomorrow is the last day of the tour, and I'm strangely pleased that it fell on Leap Day.  Don't ask me why. It just made the tour seem a little extra special.

BTW, if you haven't already, there is still time to enter the giveaway.



Friday, February 26, 2016

Reviews for Blog Tour: Day 5

Happy Friday, y'all!  I know you're as excited as I am about the weekend.  I've got some writing to do, and I'm working my way through A Game of Thrones.

Today's tour stops have something special.  We have reviews, an interview, and a guest post!  If you haven't peeked at the book yet, take a lot at what these blogs have to say about it.  Music to my ears...

Splashes into Books describes When in Gnome as an "enthralling page turner". 

Happy Tails and Tales gives When in Gnome FIVE PAWS!  HT&T also includes an interview.

I Smell Sheep features a guest post written by me. :)  There MIGHT be a clue in there about the next book...

Don't forget to enter the drawing!