Today’s guest post is by author and friend, Cait Lavender. Cait is a twenty-six year old wife and stay at home mother of one. She lives in Central California on a cattle ranch where she and her husband raise papered Black Angus cattle. When she’s not chasing her toddler around or doing mountains of laundry, ugh how I loathe laundry, she’s writing or reading feverishly. She loves how books transport her out of the stress and fatigue of life and of course it helps that most the worlds she’s transported into are way more interesting and sexy than the real world.
Cait has some thoughts to share with you on the differences between being a pantser and a plotter, so without further ado here are her incredibly entertaining thoughts.
I’m a pantser. Not a plotter. What does that mean? It means instead of sitting down and plotting out every last-minute detail of my story, the background of every character and outlining every little twist and turn, I wing it. I write by the seat of my pants. I work through the story, and all the conflicts and interesting tidbits come to me organically as I write, and the characters evolve as I get to know them. Granted, I usually start with a general idea about where I want the story to go, who the good guys and bad guys are, what I want to reveal and how I want it to end. But for the most part? I’m just making crap up.
I’m a linear pantser though, if it makes any difference. I start at the beginning and work toward the end. I know a lot of authors that can write a scene here and a scene there and figure out a way to connect them all together to make sense, but I’m not that talented. Simply the thought makes my brain hurt. (Right there with ya, Cait. Yeesh. No way could I be that…intricate.) I have to work in a straight timeline otherwise everything gets mucked up. I figure, if I can’t write it straight and have the story pieces make sense to me, my readers will get totally lost and my book will be bad.
I enjoy being a pantser though. I like discovering aspects of my characters I hadn’t planned on, or in the moment twists that add depth to the story. I almost feel like I am the reader and I’m experiencing the book as it’s happening just like the readers will. Sometimes minor characters, who I include just to serve a single purpose in the story, grow on me and I end up building more story around them instead. A brief glimpse, as I originally intended, just isn’t enough. Occasionally, I like those characters so much that I have to write their own story, like I did with Jack.
In the end, it doesn’t mean anything if the scenes or characters don’t work. I have had to be ruthless, ripping out people and dialogue for the sake of the big picture. It makes me sad sometimes, because everything I write has a little piece of myself ingrained in it, but it must be done. What a power trip. As an author, I have the ability to create and destroy entire worlds not just characters. Quick! Someone smack me before I start the maniacal laughter…
Thanks so much Cait for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I like to think of myself as a half an half. Half plotter and half pantser. I start with a plot, a few scenes, a character idea and (if I’m lucky) an ending. The rest is up for grabs. It’s worked well for Messy Death so far. (Knock on wood!) As Cait mentioned, there are draw backs to each, but as a writer you have to go with what works for you. Try different things. If you find yourself struggling more than usual or becoming unconditionally lost within your own story, chances are that particular niche isn’t for you. My advice at this point, don’t sweat it. Today’s lesson is tomorrows success. Happy writing.
Cait is the author of three ebooks. Hunter Moon, Cowboy Moon and a short story in Cupid Painted Blind. If you’d like to learn more about Cait Lavender, here are a number of links where you can find her.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/caitlavender or @CaitLavender