Pantsing through the Pandemic

Seaside Statue Sitting Man
Courtesy of eltpics

Today, I had the pleasure of being a guest over at The Kill Zone. These guys are first-rate authors. Take a look at my post and decide whether I measure up.

If, as Stephen King likes to say, the road to hell is paved with adverbs, then finishing a novel is paved with mouse traps; and here you are trying to get across that minefield in your bare feet. As writers, we tend to get distracted—a lot. Thanks, Netflix. And then, there’s life. How many of you have said, “If only I could focus exclusively on my writing, I’d finish this damn book, by cracky.” I know I have. Repeatedly over the years, much to the irritation of my long-suffering wife.

Then, a little thing called COVID-19 happened. We were told we had to shelter in place. Sure, there was still Netflix and Amazon Prime to distract us, but we couldn’t go anywhere. What’s a writer to do? Well, like the wily poker player whose bluff was called, I decided to shut up and write. And guess what, I finished the damn book.

Pantsers Are People, Too

I’m a pantser by trade. That means I don’t have a clue where I’m heading when I begin a new book. That’s not entirely true. I do know where I would like to end up, but I haven’t worked out the details. I have a main character in mind, of course. And I’m pretty clear on the conflict arising between the mc’s goal and the thing standing in the way. Other than that, I’m free as a bird when it comes to the plot. I suspect that some plotters look at pantsers as undisciplined children with uncombed hair and sticky fingers. My image of a plotter is a person who dresses impeccably and has an English accent. Borrowing from the wonderfully insane film Galaxy Quest, plotters are Alexander Dane, while pantsers are Jason Nesmith.

The book in question is the third in my supernatural suspense series, Sarah Greene Mysteries. My main character sees ghosts, which tends to get her into serious trouble. Over the course of the three novels, Sarah goes from discovering a mirror that holds the spirit of a dead girl to the entire town pretty much erupting into flames. Now, as a card-carrying pantser, I had no idea how I was going to go from a murder mystery to Armageddon. I had to trust that the characters would get me to my destination. Spoiler alert—going about crafting a novel this way requires you to rewrite. Often. That’s the downside. The upside is, there are lots of opportunities for discovery. And then, there is what I like to call the happy accident, which in my opinion, is a gift from heaven and makes for a better story.

You can read the rest of the post here.

Top Ten Posts for 2017

Wow, what a crazy year! What with everything going on in Washington, all the bad behavior being reported by the media, and the devastating wildfires in California, I for one am ready for this shit show to be over. And I’m pretty sure you are, too. Well, enough about that. Here’s to a better 2018! In the meantime, why not take a look at my top ten posts for this year. Peace and love.

[Jordan Dane] Guest Post: I Hear Voices in My Head and I Like It
[Player Piano Cover] PLAYER PIANO—Long Live the Ghost Shirt Society!
Ray Liotta How to Train Your Inner Critic
[Stillhouse Lake Cover] Book Review—Stillhouse Lake
[Mrs Saint and the Defectives Cover] Book Review—Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
[The Demonologist Cover] THE DEMONOLOGIST—Do Not Pull Back the Curtain!
[The Death Of Me Cover] Book Review—The Death Of Me
Trouble In Glamour Town Cover Book Review—Trouble In Glamour Town
[Schitt’s Creek Poster] How to Write Better Dialogue ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Style
[Sorrow’s Lie Cover] Book Review—Sorrow’s Lie

And after you finish reading, check out this Logan / X-men mashup. It will make you smile.