I am currently in the middle of my current work-in-progress — or what authors commonly call the sagging middle. I can’t speak for all authors, but I spend a great deal of time on the first chapter and then usually shoot through the first few fairly quickly. When I get to the end, I’ve already got it wrapped up in my mind and can’t write fast enough. But sometimes I’ll admit I slog through the middle. That’s when everything happens and both falling in love and the conflicts that keep my hero and heroine apart are rife.
Have you ever wondered how a book is plotted? Even after fifty books it still feels like a miraculous (and overwhelming!) process, especially when I’m looking at starting a new book. How on earth can I write a whole book?
The two most common ways authors refer to plotting is you’re either a planner or a pantster. What’s the difference?
Authors who plan their novels often have comprehensive outlines or synopses. They know what goes in every scene, sometimes in great detail. Some use a three-act structure similar to script writing while others use character and plot worksheets. One of my favorites is a storyboard — either a cork board or a whiteboard filled with index cards or multi-colored sticky notes. I personally think the pre-writing these authors do make it easier and faster to write the actual book.
Our own Inspy Romance author Hallee Bridgeman (Alexandra’s Appeal) uses note cards to plan her scenes for each chapter. These cards are easy to move around if the plot becomes convoluted.
Merrillee Whren (Second Chance Love) is a panster. She describes discovering her book as she goes as walking down one of those hallways where the lights come on as you walk forward. I think that’s a wonderful description!
Like Merrillee, I am typically that other kind of plotter — a pantster. I stare at a blank screen (or a spiral notebook — I actually enjoy writing by hand) and write by the seat of my pants. I let my characters take me where they will, which is hardly ever where I have in mind for them. (And yes, I have been known to argue with them when they are misbehaving!) However, because some of my books are traditionally published with Harlequin Love Inspired, I have to turn in fairly detailed synopses prior to having my proposals accepted, so I’ve learned the value (and fun!) of using different colored sticky notes to arrange my plot by character.
I guess that really makes me a “planster,” knowing a brief synopsis beforehand but allowing my characters to carry the heavy load as we go.
Whichever methods used by the writers here on Inspy Romance, they are all awesome writers with wonderful books. I encourage you to check them out!