Monday’s Friend: Barbara Ehrentreu

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.

Barbara at Fairfield Bookstore signing headshotTo 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.

AFTER333X555 (2)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?

ICBLJT Cover (2)Blurb for IF I COULD BE LIKE JENNIFER TAYLOR:

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?

Author Bio:

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.

Links:

After:
MuseItUp Publishing
Amazon
For Nook on Barnes and Noble
If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor: (print and ebook)
MuseItUp Publishing
Amazon
For Nook on Barnes and Noble

Blog: Barbara’s Meanderings
Facebook Author Page
Twitter
Goodreads

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12 comments so far

  1. Barbara Ehrentreu on

    Thank you so much for allowing me to be on your blog! The post is beautiful and I will be letting everyone know it is here.

  2. Jolane Colonese on

    Totally agree, Barbara. No outlines for me either. I never know what I am going to write until I write it.

    • Barbara Ehrentreu on

      Lol, it can be a little scary, but I like the not knowing the best. I always let my characters tell me what is happening and where it will end.

    • Barbara Ehrentreu on

      Lol, I knew we had more in common😊 Thanks for coming by and reading.❤️

    • Barbara Ehrentreu on

      My friend, that’s really cool that you feel the same way! Thank you for coming by and reading my article. ❤️

      • Susan Joyner-Stumpf on

        I meant Article, everyone, too, i”m sorry. Not interview.

  3. Susan Joyner-Stumpf on

    What a great Interview to get to know this Writer better. I loved hearing about how she writes her stories, as I’m identical: I allow my novels and short stories “to write themselves” as I go along; I too fall in love with my characters. They become REAL in a sense to me and if I have to kill any of them off, I feel guilty and miss them and have literally wept. So I totally identify with Barbara’s strategy. I highly recommend this Interview to all my Novelist friends and will share it personally on my Facebook wall.

    • Barbara Ehrentreu on

      Thank you so much Susan!!! I would love to discuss this further with you!!

  4. SunriseCalls on

    Hi Barbara, great article! I couldn’t be a pantser but I certainly admire the courage of those who are. Having said that, I had no idea how my only published novel was going to finish when I starte writing. But I’m planning the sequel at the moment and won’t start writing it until I have a complete plan! I loved your book, ‘After’, by the way!
    Dawn

  5. ina on

    So glad to hear someone supporting pantsing!

    • Barbara Ehrentreu on

      Yes, and I have been talking about this on my show for years😊 Thanks for reading my friend.

  6. Rexanne Endicott on

    Marvelous interview, dear Barbara! Well done! Looking forward to reading all that you are, in all that you write! (And you are so much MORE than all that, for real!! <3)


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