Sunday, March 20, 2011


by Carolyn Brown

Thank y’all for accepting me into the blog schedule. It’s a delight to be here among the Avalon authors!

Someone asked me once if I was a pantster or a plotter. At the time I wasn’t sure which I was or if it was something that I might need to take an antibiotic to cure.

I can usually talk my way around and through a subject until I reach an answer but no amount of talking seemed to put me in the pantster’s recliner or the plotter’s chaise lounge.

Here’s what I came up with in the research of how I write:

I start off as a plotter. With my new book, Walkin’ on Clouds, coming out the first of April, I plotted it all down. Chapter by chapter, muse sitting on my shoulder, and telling me what a wonderful job I was doing. Then I started writing about Fairlee and Isaac and the first chapter went right along with the outline. She woke up on a boat, found out she’d been kidnapped on the eve of her wedding, and sparks lit up the stormy skies.

So I was a plotter at that time.

Then the next chapter started and Fairlee, which is the name of an angel according to Fairlee’s momma but somehow they forgot to put wings on that woman, let me tell you; anyway I digressed. Fairlee said the plotting was done. She kicked the muse off my shoulder and after a big argument with Isaac, said that he could sit on the other shoulder if he didn’t interfere too much.
Plotter days were over.

Pantster days should have followed. Right?


Pantster means I’m writing by the seat of my britches as the inspiration hits me between the eyes. There was no inspiration and no black eyes. Fairlee and Isaac bickered about who was telling the story right and I either had to get it down like they said or else they kept me awake at night figuring out how to fix my mistakes.

Fairlee has a temper; Isaac is bullheaded. Imagine working with them through the whole book. But, hey, as they so frequently reminded me; they’d lived through the experience. No one knew about those inns along the way or where the rivers were like they did, and in the end no one knew how they fought against that illusive Happy Ever After. So I listened and I wrote.

When I finished their book I realized that I’m neither a plotter nor a pantster. I don’t get the easy chair or the chaise lounge. Instead I get the pilot’s seat in a big jet airplane. I fill my plane with all these absolutely delightful characters; some spicy, some quirky, some just cute as a newborn kitten. And we take off with a destination and a time of arrival and the whole nine yards. Then after chapter one the characters hijack my plane, tell me where to go and how to get there and we go on an amazing adventure.

So tell me are you a pantster or a plotter? Do you outline, fill notebooks and then write? Do you sit down without anything but an overactive imagination and let inspiration lead you? Do you have a muse? What’s your story? Talk to me!


I.J. Parnham said...

I reckon most pantsters plot more than they care to admit and most plotters wing it more than they admit. Me, I'm a critical masser. I get just enough of the story straight in my mind that I build up that critical mass of interest that forces me to write, while having enough blanks to fill in later when I get to know my characters that, again, creates a critical mass in my mind to write and find out what happens.

Carolyn Brown said...

Good morning I.J.: I betcha you're right on the money about the plotters and pantsters being more alike than they'd care to admit. Maybe it takes both for a creative mind to work?

Sandy Cody said...

Carolyn and Ian, I think both of you hit the nail on the head that most of us are a combination of pantster and plotter. I know I need at least an idea of where I'm going before I start, but following the detours my characters lead me down is what makes writing fun for me - and it gotta be fun for the writer if it's gonna be fun for the reader.

mulligangirl said...

I love your view on this! I tend to call myself a plotter, but in reality, that's not strictly true. I do approach the the first draft with a detailed outline, but by the time I'm on chapter 5 I'm supposed to be in chapter 3 and I've gone down some path I never knew existed. The outline gives me the courage to set out with a destination in mind. Allowing myself to veer off lets the creative side have some fun.

Carolyn Brown said...

Sandy: Thanks for stopping by! I agree. Our readers are very special. They could be playing a video game or watching television but instead they are reading our works so they deserve the best we've got!
Mulligangirl: Veer away...that's where we find those moments to remember!