Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Fricassee

So you all know I'm a pantser.  Well, a panster-who-likes-some-semblance-of-a-plan, at any rate.  I actually prefer to call myself an organic writer, which has nothing to do with my penchant for whole foods and hippie patchwork pants.  Organic, as in, I write the story as it unfolds in my brain, albeit within the basic framework of plot points and where I'm headed (I usually know, roughly, how my story will end).

I am proudly Outline Free.  Outlines give me hives.

Anyway, something amazing happened yesterday.  But it'll only seem amazing if a) you are a writer, and b) you understand my pantserness.

It all started during my Morning Wake-up Chat with Jodi Meadows.  (That sounds all official or something.   Actually, we always say good morning and share our coffee.  It's like working in the same office with her.  Or sitting amongst ferrets together.)  (Well, not really.)  I was lamenting to Jodi that I had begun planning Book Two of my new project, and that I had jotted down two questions for which I had no answers:

  • What is my main character's goal?
  • What is her main conflict

I know, I know.  It's not rocket science.  But I can't TELL you how it makes my brain hurt to think about these things.  So I IMed the questions to Jodi, and she immediately responded with -- an answer.

For each question.

And the answers made sense.

And weren't convoluted or esoteric or stupid.

*pause to marvel at Jodi's genius*

At any rate, Jodi's input was just what I needed to propel me forward.  And--here comes the amazing part--yesterday afternoon, while plotting with a pen (yeah, one of those hand-held things) in my yellow, spiral-bound notebook, I CAME UP WITH THE ENDING FOR BOOK 3.

Did you catch that?  Not the ending for book 2.  THE ENDING FOR BOOK 3.  In short, I now know EXACTLY HOW THE ENTIRE TRILOGY ENDS.  Which means I can now fashion the story arc over the next two books because I know what is going to happen.

And it's an ending that makes me very, very happy.  Because, prior to yesterday, I had no idea how I was going to accomplish what I wanted to.

Guys!  This is new ground.  And though I've got lots of brain-pinching thought ahead of me (you know I hate staring, but I'm admittedly getting good at it), I'm no longer intimidated by the disorganized possibilities that lie ahead.  I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO MY BELOVED HEROINE.

(Dork moment.  I love my characters as much as you love yours.  No, I love mine more.  For today, anyway.)

There you have it.  I am positively GLEEFUL about this!

What about you?  Do endings come to you first?  Or do they develop as you go?  (The latter has generally been the case for me, though I always have an idea where I'm going.)  Have you ever completely changed an ending after you actually arrived there?


So I'm set for the weekend.  I plan on having an in-house crit next week (I welcome your suggestions/requests below), and then the blog will be going dark for three weeks.  BECAUSE I WILL BE ON VACATION.  And while I will definitely be writing (part of vacation time is Parent Visit time, so that means plotting/writing time), I am giving myself a break from the world o'blog.

(What? You'd like to make a donation toward my gas fund? Awesome! Jodi Meadows will thank you, since I'm stopping to visit her on my way to Mom-and-Dad-of-Authoress's house.)

More on that next week.  For now -- have an awesome weekend!


  1. Go you! I am a middle-of-the-road kind of person; I need to have a general idea of where I'm going. And right now, I have no idea how my book ends. It makes me a little panicky. :)

  2. I usually know how my story starts and how it ends. It's just the 70,000 or so words in between that I have problems with :)

  3. i typically know how the plot wraps up, but not how it all ties together with the goals and conflicts etc until i get there. And usually i'm pleasantly surprised

  4. That's great news! I get an overwhelming sense of peace when I've got my ending. No matter what hole I dig myself (or my characters) into, having the ending will inevitably get you out of it. Breath easy! *cheers*

    Those two questions you mentioned are maniacal things...they look all innocent and everything but beneath the glittery surface, they're litte horned demons.

  5. Yay you!

    I'm a pantser, too, although I already know where my story starts and what's going to happen in the end. It's the "how's my character going to get there," the "what is her main goal; what is her main conflict" that gets me staring into space. Since you've got the answers to those questions (lucky you) I'll be looking forward to brilliance being published fairly soon.

  6. You know, I actually JUST wrote "It would be FABULOUS if the ending gods would fill me in on how this one finishes up," on my FB status, and then I came here! Good on ya! I'm "organic" as well. With this WIP, the primordial blob of the end is there, just not the actual words. Pass that mojo over!

  7. Congrats - that's a great feeling.

    I'm right there with you; I start with the endings. Endings are usually the ideas I get, usually of climactic battle scenes, high-stakes chases, and Live-Free-Die-Hard explosions that lead me to pull my characters aside and say, "Okay, this is awesome, but what the heck did you do to get yourself here?"

    I think we're a rare number. I haven't yet met anyone else who begins with the end.

  8. I'd have to say I'm like you, I have an idea how it will end but the details of how it plays out come with the story.

    I can't tell you how relieved I was to know someone else doesn't always know the answers to the basic questions. I've spent a lot of time feeling stupid trying to define the goal or confilict of my own story!

    Gotta get me a Jodi Meadows!

  9. This is a Fricassee for the ages.

    Nice job on dreaming up a great ending. And enjoy your three week break.

    Michael G-G

  10. I write everything I think might be fun on a post it and stick it to the wall, different colors for separate characters and various plot lines, and rearrange them like quilt blocks. When it finally looks pretty, I have an outline.
    By the way, I wear some seriously crazy pants.

  11. That's awesome! Congrats!

    I, too, am a pantster. I love the term, I'll make sure to credit you should I use it elsewhere. ;)

  12. Congratulations on your plot breakthrough. Unlike you, I plot everything and always know the story and its ending before I even know the characters. I hope you have a wonderful vacation! (We'll miss you...)

  13. I'm a combo pantser/plotter so i guess that would be organic? Hm... It's just how i write and I modify my process from book to book. Since i write series novels, the idea for the next book surfaces as i'm writing the current book. The book i'm working on now was inspired by one simple and unassuming question from my agent. Sparks flew and the book was born in my brain. Getting it all down in writing is yet another challenge.

    Before starting a book, i must know the pivotal black moment. That will tell me everything i need to know from beginning to end. For me, the story hinges on that black moment and if i don't know what it is when i start writing, i'll have a hard time getting into the book.

    After you sell, you should know how to get the plan for your next book down in brief synopsis form because future sales will be on proposal. Therefore it's wise to practice planning ahead, even if it's sketchy. Your career depends on it.

  14. Good point, Karen, and that's exactly why I'm taking the time to plan these books. I have no intention of actually WRITING them yet. I just need to get them down, basic as it may be, so I can whip up a synopsis as needed. I HATE this stuff, but there you have it! And I like your "black moment" approach, which gives me more to think about as I sit down to continue plotting! <3

  15. Yay, Authoress! I'm so excited for you. It is such an amazing experience to know what your next book will be about, even if it's still a little vague. That's perfectly okay. :)

    I remember when i first started writing i didn't understand what a black moment was. Though i'd read hundreds of books that all had them, i'd never identified them for what they were. As soon as i figured it out, that's when my plots started really clicking.

    Ooh! That might make a fun new "Are you hooked?" for when you get back from vaykay. People can post their black moments for feedback on how well they're working, if they're touching on all the main areas of this plot point. Just an idea.

  16. Happy for you!

    This 'organic' writing is sooo me. I understand. I had a similar moment a few months ago and only one friend understood. So glad to have others in writing world on-line who are going through this wonderful madness too. The brilliant moments so outweigh the depressing ones. Yay for Authoress!

  17. Congratulations!

    I too am a Plot As I Go person, though I've been trying to work more toward a Plan with a capital P. This sounds like great progress to me!

    Just in time to enjoy the weekend..

  18. I frequently write the final scene first, much like Rick posted above. I have the first and final scenes written for two WIPs. Just need to finish those middle bits.

    Also - three weeks with no Authoress. Eek!!!

    Enjoy your vacation, though. :)

  19. I'm mostly a pantser as well, but I do like a bit of structure to winging it. I do usually know pretty much how the story will go when I'm writing it, but being a pantser allows the story to shift and modify itself as my characters deem best.

    And yes, I've had that happen to me too. What started out as a short story burped out into a novela. That quickly expanded into a full-length novel and then a trilogy. It's expanded more rapidly than the universe and it's now nine books. It's a little awe-inspiring, but it's a real eureka moment like no other when it happens!

  20. The exact same thing happened to me, though the words that helped me came from a book on writing fiction. I read a parg about forcing the protag to sacrefice something important in the end and bam! Instant ending. I can honestly say that, in all my years of writing, this was my favorite moment.

  21. I'm like Rick and Tarak - I knew how my current manuscript was going to end before I even knew how it was going to start. The start wasn't too bad, it was ironing out everything in between that was difficult!

  22. I just recently discovered the term "organic writer" and I like it so much better than pantser, too. Because I'm like you-- I don't have a detailed plan, but I do know in my head where I'm going. And occasionally I'll sit down and scribble everything on paper, but it's not like an OUTLINE (which also gives me a headache, btw). It's just so refreshing when I meet other writers like me; it helps me know it's all going to be okay!

    Congratulations on figuring out the ending to book 3! Yay!!


  23. I usually start each book knowing who the characters are and what they think they want, with the initial relationships, the first scene and an idea of how I want it to end.

    From there, I just listen to the characters tell me their stories. There are many times I'm bloody stubborn and forge the story ahead to the point I want. That always means a re-write!!

    But it's a big deal when you get an ending. Congrats! Although, you think you got it. I'm betting your characters whispered it in your ear...