I love romantic suspense stories in all subgenres. Itís what Iíve been reading for too many decades to count. So it was no surprise when I sat down and became serious about my writing that I leaned toward suspense plots. My current WIP is a romantic suspense story involving a serial killer, a heartbroken husband working to save his marriage, an FBI agent and several dead bodies. The identities of the killer and the agent are withheld from the reader even as the threats to the heroine escalate. I like writing complicated plots with turns and red herrings that hopefully keep the reader guessing, leading to an unexpected twist at the end.
Iíve now published a dozen books, most of them with suspense plots and every single one of them written by the seat of my pants. I start with the ďwhat ifĒ question and let the story unfold organically from there. Iíve always been happy sitting at the computer, letting my hero and heroine stumble into life-threatening situations, naively typing away, letting them roam through the story falling in love and bringing killers to justice.
Until a few years ago, I didnít know there was another way.
Enter a plotting class taught by some writing pros. I was a scientist in my former life and Iíd written countless outlines for research papers. I figured Iíd give it a try. The instructors presented the plotting process one step at a time. Iím a good student. Iíve always done all of my homework and dutifully kept up the class assignments. We had to describe our hero, heroine and villain, I hadnít written a scene, but I managed to muddle through. Then we had to talk a little bit about their childhood, their fears, their dislikes and goals. Okay, I started shaking. Iíd never really ďmetĒ my characters in any of my books until they were thrown into some nasty situation. It was still okay, I pushed through. But *gulp* I was trying to discover who they were and what they wanted before chapter one and the ďwhat ifĒ.
Then, I had to write ALL of their conflicts, internal and external, along with the journey and character arc they were going to travel during the story. Whaaaat? Like I had to know before actually writing the scene at the warehouse what the heroine was going to do with the antique glass vase when she got to the lake? But she hasnít told me! I was breathing into paper bags and bathing in calamine lotion to control my lack of oxygen and the hives breaking out on my skin.
When the instructors, all smiles and sweetness, nicely sent out spreadsheets so we could outline our chapters Öthat was my undoing! How the heck could I tell them what was going to happen in chapter 20, when I didnít even know if the heroineís best friend would still be alive past chapter 15? Heck, I didnít even know if the story was going to get past chapter 10!
I. COULDNíT. DO. IT.
Sorry. *deep calming breaths Öin through the nose, out through the mouth* Itís still a bit overwhelming when I think about it. Iíve filed all their pretty charts and spreadsheets deep in my writer box. I gave plotting a shot. More than one. My poor muse had an apoplectic fit every time I pulled out the prompt sheets. Itís not worth the pitchers of margaritas, boxes of chocolates and soothing music it takes to pull her off the ceiling when I attempt to plot a story.
So Iím going to admit it now. Hi, my name is Nina Ö and Iím a pantser. Iíve tried plotting because so many writers look so happy with all that information spread out in front of them. They smile as they gleefully take their characters on the journey theyíve taken weeks, sometimes months, to discover. I canít do it! Please donít make me! Itís just not in my wiring. Iíll happily sit down, blissfully unaware as to what terrible thing awaits my heroine in the next chapter. I donít need to know why the hero hates ferrets or what motivates him to chase down the bad guy until he decides to tell me. My first draft is always an exciting undertaking as my characters lead me through a grand adventure all culminating with another villain in custody and of course two people hopelessly in love riding off into the proverbial sunset.
Nina Pierce is an award-winning author of a dozen sexy romance novels. She spends her days typing without a direction, her characters happily wandering the pages chased by villains and saving the world. The first book in her sexy romantic suspense series, BLIND HER WITH BLISS, is available in digital format at most retailers. You can find out more about her books at her website http://www.NinaPierce.com or follow her on twitter http://www.twitter.com/ninapierce and facebook http://www.facebook.com/author.nina.pierce
BLIND HER WITH BLISS
She's trying to find herself. He's attempting to hide. Together they'll discover a truth that threatens them both...
Investigating the death of her best friend, uptight accountant, JULIE TILLING, discovers a world of adult nightclubs and Internet intrigue. When shock jock DAMON COREY rocks her world in a wild night of passion, she wonders if she's found love...or the key to solving a murder.
*Edited by Teresa Crumpton*