With apologies to the Bard and his melancholy prince, I offer my latest ponderings on one of writing's eternal questions...
To plot or not to plot--that is the question:
Whether tis wiser for the writer to set
The peaks and valleys of the hero's journey
Or to allow that journey to unfold free,
To unravel or bind close. To plot, to pants
No more--and by plotting to seek to end
Wasteful distractions and plot holes, great and small,
That unseen will arise--tis a valiant goal
Devoutly to be sought. To plot, to pants
To pants, to wander free. Ay, there's the rub
For by pantsing, writing becomes journey,
Without stage direction from the plotter's map,
A mystery tour. Plot or pants,
Method matters not if the story's told.
So, where do I weigh in on this oft argued conundrum?
I have tried plotting a story and when I had finished, I had no interest in writing the story because, in my mind, I had written it. The thought of going back through it just didn't interest me. Now, I admit, that may have been a testament to the quality of the story I'd plotted, but other attempts have been just as fruitless. The process leeches all the joy out of the experience of writing. To me, writing is just like reading, an exercise of escapism, but one where I get to play an active rather than passive role.
Therefore, I chose to put myself into the hybrid position of being a Plotser. This is not my term, but one I heard or read somewhere describing a person who does a little of both plotting and pantsing. And like the question of the chicken and the egg, it's unclear which part is supposed to come first, the plotting or the pantsing.
When I begin a story, I usually dive in as a Pantser. As afraid as I am of heights, I have no trouble tumbling off the cliff after a character or story idea into the free-fall of the first draft. Throughout the first couple of chapters I keep myself aloft, blithely swooping along behind my character, learning her nuances and her world, caught up in the excitement of exploration.
However, gravity will win out eventually and I have to set myself and my character on the ground and begin the trek toward the HEA or, if not a romance, toward the Final Resolution.
At this point, I momentarily become a Plotter, because as more than one mentor has pointed out, you can't write a story if you don't know how it's going to end. Oh, sure, you can START a story with no ending in sight, but you will always reach that Point of No Return where a specific ending must either be In Sight or at least, Anticipated by the Author.
As a Plotter, I am rather minimalistic. I develop either a specific ending or a basic concept for an ending. This is neither etched in stone nor even detailed, but it gives me a target to begin herding my characters toward. I usually include a few high points and/or low points in my fuzzy approximation of a plotline. These key points provide me with something to use in crafting those obligatory roadblocks and disasters with which we authors enjoy torturing our characters.
As an aside, I suspect that my Plotser habits may feed into the oft encountered "muddle in the middle." However, even in the depths of the "muddle," having that ending shining in the distance like the Emerald City helps keep me and my characters plodding along the path.
I should also admit that being a Plotser makes it easier to do the occasional "leap-frogging" over particular sticking points for the sake of progressing. Yes, those plot chasms will have to be filled or bridged, but the leap frogging keeps me from losing momentum. It is my Pantser side that makes that leap possible while my Plotter may become bogged down on that point.
This process of herding my characters along a faintly sketched plotline allows me to discover with them and keeps me engaged in the process without fear of wandering off into fathomless chaos. After all, it's the process of discovery that engages reader, and the same holds for me, the writer.
The Festival of The Flowers: The Courtesan and The Scholar
Temptation is her profession, seduction in her blood, but when a courtesan falls in love with an impoverished scholar, can she risk her heart and his life?
For a courtesan with siren’s blood, drawing men to her bed is as natural as breathing, but Lisara Hammett refuses to feel anything beyond the physical. A generations-old curse dooms the women of her bloodline to lose any man they love.
Reyst Andulon does not believe in superstition nor magical creatures—but he does believe he is not good enough for Lady Lisara. Lisara begs to differ, but must risk the pain of her family curse or lose Reyst forever.
I've always been a writer. I love to translate my imaginings into written form and, at a young age, took Josephine March as my writer's model. A hopeful romantic, I gravitated to fantasy and romance. Now, at a less young age, I have been fortunate to have several of my short stories published and am thrilled to have found a home at The Wild Rose Press. I enjoy building new and elegant worlds and I hope readers find them well worth visiting. A native of Richmond, Virginia, I live with my uber-supportive husband and two less enthusiastic cats. I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, Virginia Romance Writers and James River Writers. Through these organizations and the support of three fantastic critique groups, RichWriters, Writers Endeavor, and Roses Critique Group, I continue to hone my craft.
I am currently working on a Contemporary Paranormal Suspense and the next of The Festival of the Flowers tales. I can also be spotted on facebook at Denise Golinowski/Author. Drop in and Share some thoughts.