Archive for March, 2016|Monthly archive page
Today I’m pleased to welcome fellow Muser Barbara Ehrentreu to the blog, who’s going to offer us a view of writing from the pantser’s perspective.
Why I am a “Pantser”
By Barbara Ehretreu
People like James Patterson tell us that novels can be written according to a set outline and he makes a lot of money doing this kind of thing. Many people use outlines for their writing and for them it works. For me an outline is like a straight jacket. I only know the first sentence of my novel and then I write from there.
To some people that would be a frightening experience. Imagine getting to the page and having no idea of what you are going to write. Well, I don’t quite have a blank mind about it. Before I have decided to write my novel I have an idea of my characters and I have developed them to the point where I pretty much know them. Of course as I am writing I get to know my characters better and better. Also from my characters I can pretty much get the plot of my novel.
So I sit down and write the first sentence and develop my characters and then write. Every time I sit down to write I never know what is going to happen. That is unless it is a complicated scene. I have had to stop and plot these scenes out so I won’t make a mistake. However, that is rare and usually I have the book at least halfway done before that happens.
I don’t know the ending to any of the books I write. For some this would put them in an anxious state the whole time they are writing. I know writers who write the ending before the book starts. For me the ending will come naturally and I’ll know it when it occurs. How do I know it? I just stop writing. The scene ends and I realize that is the ending. I do get a little nervous as the ending is getting closer. I can sense it and I want it to end, but I need to have accomplished all I wanted before the end. The characters need to have found some way to deal with plot complications and the ending needs to solve most of the major problems for them. For both of my published novels I cried for one and I was deliriously happy for the other.
I’m not saying all writers should try this method, but if you are feeling like you are not writing in a fluid way and you want to have more freedom you might try it. It’s not for the faint of heart and you might need a lifejacket of an outline nearby for your first time. But if you are writing the second book in a series as I did, your characters know you so well they talk to you. Or rather, you know your characters so well it is like having a conversation with them. They whisper in your ear and oh, yeah, they add characters you had never thought would be there.
To sum it all up, writing as a pantser is something that you should do if you don’t care what your ending is going to be and you have a good set of characters developed. The characters will move your plot and you will find you will write more and be happier with what you write. But as I said it is not for those who are worried without an outline. To all the pantsers who are reading this, there are more of us than you think.
Blurb for AFTER:
After is a story about the struggles Lauren Walstein, a fifteen-year-old girl, has to go through when her father suddenly has a heart attack and undergoes bypass surgery. In one phone call her life changes completely. Lauren is a character with whom most teens will relate. Her best friend since kindergarten, Joey, is going out with her enemy and they have grown apart. Before the phone call all she thought about was getting a scholarship for softball, and the Mets. Suddenly she must deal with both her father’s illness and being in school. The demands on her from both ends complicate the story. In the middle of all this, she finds she is developing feelings for her best friend that are more than friendly. Is he feeling the same or is he just comforting her? In addition there is Joey’s mean girl friend Amber, who doesn’t appreciate Lauren being in the picture. Will Lauren’s father recover? How will Lauren cope with her new feelings for Joey?
Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain. With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky junior quarterback, Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. When Jennifer is the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to spend the night to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?
Barbara Ehrentreu grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Queens. She has lived and taught in Long Island, Buffalo, NY and Westchester, NY as well as a year in Los Angeles, CA. She has a Masters Degree in Reading and Writing K-12. Currently she is retired from teaching and living in Stamford, CT with her family. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor won second prize in Preditors & Editors as Best Young Adult Book for 2011. It was inspired by Paula Danziger for her children’s writing workshop at Manhattanville College. Her second book, After, considers what can happen to a teen when her father becomes ill with a heart attack. It is based on her own experiences when her husband had a heart attack and the aftermath of what she and her family experienced. She is preparing the sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. Barbara also writes poetry and several of her poems are published in the anthologies, World Poetry Open Mic, Prompted: An International Collection of Poetry, Beyond the Dark Room, Storm Cycle and Backlit Barbell. She has a blog, Barbara’s Meanderings, and she hosts a radio show on Blog Talk Radio, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages, once a month. She is a member of PEN Letters and SCBWI.
Today I’m delighted to be doing a blog swap with fellow MuseItUp author Eric Price. When you’ve finished reading his post here, hop on over to his blog, where I’m talking about the learning curve I experienced with my first published novel.
WELL, I WON’T DO THAT AGAIN
By Eric Price
When I set out to write my first novel, all I had written were some short stories, a couple newspaper articles, a few lesson plans, and some failed attempts at poetry. I wanted to try my hand at something longer, so I wrote a stand alone novel with the potential for developing it into a series. After several revisions, and a few rejection letters, I did a major rewrite and introduced a secondary character I intended to write as a main character in a future book.
Well, MuseItUp Publishing gave me a contract for the first one, which eventually became UNVEILING THE WIZARDS’ SHROUD. My intent was to take some time off from the world of Wittatun and develop some of the other story ideas first, but my new character, Yara, kept calling to me, and I had no choice but to proceed with her book. After taking much longer than anticipated, it finally became THE SQUIRE AND THE SLAVE MASTER, also with MuseItUp Publishing. Now, as I struggle with the third and (I’m almost positive) final volume of The Saga of the Wizards, A Wizard Reborn, I think I know what I’ve done wrong, and hopefully I’ve learned my lesson.
Anyone who hasn’t written a book would probably think after writing a first draft, revising it countless times, rewriting it, working through it three times with the content editor, another two times with the line editor, and reading over it one last time for formatting before it finally gets published, that the author would have every word of the book memorized. I can’t say I know how it works for other authors, but for me…no, there are so many details about my own book I don’t know. I constantly had to refer to Unveiling while writing Squire, and now I’m find myself checking back with both of them while I write A Wizard Reborn. What did we last see this character doing? How did this character die? What is this character’s brother’s name?
Even if I had one of those photographic memories, a second issue that frequents my pages is some minor detail in the earlier book(s) that really throws the proverbial monkey wrench in the works of my current work in progress. I’m constantly saying, “Why’d I do this?” or “Why didn’t I do that?” If this were a major movie franchise, I suppose I could ignore what happened in the previous volumes and move on with the story I want to write. (*Ahem* Yes, X-Men, you’re one of the franchises I’m talking about.) But since they’re books, I feel the need to make them as accurate as possible. A little planning could have saved me a lot of headaches and time.
Speaking of time, this brings me to my final issue. I never seem to have enough time. In my ideal world, I would have had each book of the series release about a year apart. Two years separated books one and two. Time will tell how long it take book three to see the light of eReaders.
About the Author:
Eric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Squire and the Slave Master, continues the Saga of the Wizards. He is a member of SCBWI. Find him online at authorericprice.com.