Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Mystery to Me

It's still a mystery to me how the plotters do it! I so admire their discipline and their technique. I'm a pantster writer and always have been, except when writing exams in university, where I plotted out point form notes for the essay questions!

For me, writing fiction is like watching a movie and I'm just recording what's happening -- which can get me into point-of-view problems because I'm seeing everything. (Thank you to my fantastic editor.) I guess my way is kind of like what the director of a movie does by seeing all the scenes, knowing all the characters, but letting them express themselves, in a director's case through the actor, and in my case, through the words.

It also means sometimes my characters surprise me by going off on a tangent I hadn't expected...and I can worry I don't know how they'll get back, but they always do. Nevertheless I think it can add a bit of zing to a hero to have a wobble toward wimpdom from his strong, silent stoicism or the heroine having a shoe or purse fetish that leads her to finding out more about leather production and thus to a slaughterhouse, and changes her to a vegan. Which I didn't know about her when we started out!

I generally know who the good guys and bad guys are, what the mystery to be solved will be (a death, kidnapping, robbery or whatever) and that the bad guys will lose in the end, even if they seem to have the upper hand at some stage of the story. But I let my characters lead me along their path. It's a fun way to write and why it never, ever gets old for me.

Libby McKinmer
Romance with an edge


Lillie Ammann said...

I write the same way. When people tell they were surprised who the murderer was, I tell them, "So was I!"

Mark said...

I generally let my characters lead the way, but I always have the end in sight. It's like taking a road trip with them. We start at one place and know where we're going, but the route isn't planned. We take digressions to interesting places and meet new, unexpected people.

Morgan Mandel said...

I can't do outlines. I know how my story starts and basically how it will end, but don't know any much else. Somewhere along the way, sometimes that even changes!

I like the thrill of not knowing. I've never had a kid, but I guess some parents are like that also when they're waiting for a child to be born.

Morgan Mandel/Double M

Marilyn said...

Isn't it amazing what our characters do? I've often, when planing a mystery, decided who the murderer was but as I got further along in the story, I knew I was wrong and it had to be someone else.


Jean Henry Mead said...

I'm also a pantster, Libby. I start out with a vauge idea of what's going to happen and maybe halfway through the plot I discover who the murderer is. It makes it more interesting and fun to write. Outlines, as far as I'm concerned are for nonfiction books,and I've written my share.

Kim Smith said...

Yeah, pantser all the way... my characters wouldn't have it any other way :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, folks! It's so good to know I'm in such creative company.


Dana Fredsti said...

Hail, Fellow Pansters!
I love that expression, Libby...