Monday, November 28, 2011

Stylish Pants or Strictly Plots with Guest Blogger: Nina Croft

Win a copy of Deadly Pursuit and welcome
back author Nina Croft to the Boost!

She's here to chat about her view of the old "Plotter verses Pantser" debate and here's what she had to say...

I’m going to start this post with a quote from Stephen King’s excellent book, On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft, which is one of my favorite writing books. So here goes:

“Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort and the dullard’s first choice. The story that results is apt to feel artificial and labored.”

Now after that damning condemnation of plotting, I going to have to admit something—I’m a plotter. There I’ve said it. I’m a plotter, and I’m proud.

Well, maybe not proud. The truth is, I always wanted to be a pantser—one of those people who just sit down, start writing, and fabulous stories tumble from their minds onto the keyboard, fully formed. But I’m not.

I’ve been writing for a few years now, and I’ve tried a lot of different methods. I probably started out doing a hybrid of the two, a bit of plotting, then a bit of pantsing. I’d usually begin with some characters and a starting incident, and I’d know where I wanted to end up (I write romance so the happy ever after is a given). In between, I’d move toward the conclusion, sometimes with purpose, sometimes weaving around as though I’d drunk way too much red wine (which might actually have been the case), but I’d get there in the end.

Then I read Stephen King, and I thought—I don’t want to be a dullard. Let’s go for this. I had a couple of characters, and I knew they had to fall in love, but other than that, I had no clue. I started writing, and soon found myself stuck in the middle, unable to see how to get to the end without totally rewriting what I had done so far. Which I did. Numerous times.

So for my next story, I decided to embrace my dullardness. And I plotted. Not just the beginning and the end, but the middle as well. I did character interviews, and a scene by scene breakdown of the whole book. And I enjoyed it. Not only that, but I enjoyed writing the first draft as well—it just whizzed out of my fingertips. I found I could concentrate on the characters reactions and emotions during the scenes rather than on what they were actually doing and why.

I now like to think I do my pantsing during the plotting process. That’s the time when let my imagination run free and spend just about every waking moment asking—what if? I go riding, and I’ll be asking Gencianna (my horse), what if people could live forever? Or I’ll be walking the dogs and asking, I know we’re plotting a sci-fi, but what if the pilot of the space ship is actually a vampire? Or…

I believe everybody has to find the way that works best for them. Only by trying different methods are you going to do that. Don’t ever believe just because someone tells you “that’s the way things should be done” that you have to follow them blindly (even if that person is Stephen King).

My next project is plotting books 4, 5 and 6 of my Blood Hunter series. I’ve never tried to plot more than one book at a time, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

So what do you think—plotting or pantsing? Is there a definitive way, or does every writer have to come up with their own unique method of getting their stories from their minds to the keyboard. Let me know what you think for the chance to win an e-copy of Deadly Pursuit (a book I admit, unashamedly, was plotted!)

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for coming back again, Nina. We always enjoy hearing from you here at the Boost. I'm a pantser but secretly I sometimes wish I could be more of a plotter. I find it very boring to plot but I wonder if I'd have to do less editing if I worked that way instead? Very interesting food for thought. Please tell us more about your book.


Breaking assassin Jonathon Decker out of a maximum security prison on Trakis One seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, pursued across space by the two most powerful factions in the universe, the crew of El Cazador are having second thoughts. They’d like to give him back. Unfortunately, that no longer seems an option.

Jon is used to working alone. Now, he’s stuck on the space cruiser El Cazador until he can work out just what he’s supposed to know that puts him on everybody’s most-wanted-dead list. He’s not happy that the crew includes a runaway priestess with designs on his virtue—such as it is. Jon likes women, but he gave up the role of protector a long time ago, and Alexia, High Priestess of the Church of Everlasting Life, is an accident waiting to happen.

After twenty-four excruciatingly boring years of doing her duty, Alex is finally having some fun. She never meant to run away—it was a rash impulse—and she means to go back—eventually. But first, she’s going to squeeze enough excitement out of the situation to last her a lifetime. And what could be more exciting than a stunningly gorgeous werewolf?

Meanwhile, the Church are chasing their missing priestess, and the Collective are pursuing their escaped assassin. Being hunted has never been more deadly…or more fun.

Want More Nina?

Learn more about her and check out her latest release!
Click here.

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Clarissa Yip said...

I would like to be a dullard with you! I usually start with plotting and end up panting...maybe that's why it doesn't work out so well. Happy sales!

Roxanne Rhoads said...

I think whatever works for the author is the best way to go, everyone has a style and if it works, it works. If it ain't broke don't fix it . LOL

For my writing I am both- some stories I plot out at least a basic outline and work form it others I just sit and write and go with the flow.

I think it depends on the characters- sometimes even my planning doesn't do any good when they decide to do what they want to do.

Cherie Reich said...

Yay for book two coming out! I enjoyed the first one. :)

Yep, I'm a dullard, I suppose. I have to plot or writing the book can be excruciatingly slow. If I have down what I want to write, then I can churn out words much more quickly. Of course, different people writer differently, and that's a good thing. :)

Na said...

I really like the science-fiction element in Nina Croft's story. I need to read more Sci-fi stories and this sounds like a great start.

Rebecca said...

I start with a basic plot/premise and a general idea of who my characters are. But when I sit down to write, I'm a panster. I might have a good idea where I want the stories to go, but the characters often have minds of their own! ;-)

Your book sounds great, Nina!

all thaT Rage said...

I used to be able to read a Harry Potter book in an hour and a half. I'm trying to do the same for my Marketing textbook but unfortunately its kind of hard to do when its all theory and little story plot in it. GRRR. who is the DULLARD?