I do hope that everyone enjoyed the guest post from Nikolas Baron last week. He and Grammarly.com have been life savers for me.
This week I’d like to re-introduce you to another fantastic author. From his secret lair in the wilds of Bethlehem, Georgia, 2013 Pulp Ark Award Winning Best Author, Bobby Nash writes a little bit of everything including novels, comic books, short prose, graphic novels, screenplays, media tie-ins, and more.
Between writing deadlines, Bobby is an actor and extra in movies and television, including appearances in Deviant Pictures’ Fat Chance, FOX’s The Following, USA’s Satisfaction, AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, and more. He is also the co-host of the Earth Station One podcast (www.esopodcast.com) and a member of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers and International Thriller Writers.
Bobby was named Best Author in the 2013 Pulp Ark Awards, his first professional writing award. Rick Ruby, a character co-created by Bobby and author Sean Taylor also snagged a Pulp Ark Award for Best New Pulp Character of 2013. Bobby was also nominated for the 2014 New Pulp Awards and Pulp Factory Awards for his work.
For more information on Bobby Nash please visit him at http://www.bobbynash.com,www.bobbynash.com, www.facebook.com/AuthorBobbyNash, www.twitter.com/bobbynash, www.google.com/+BobbyNashAuthor, http://instagram.com/bobbynash14, and www.pinterest.com/bobbynash, among other places across the web.
Without Further ado, I give you:
THE BIRTH OF PLOTTY PANTS!
By Bobby Nash
If you’re a writer then you’ve probably been asked this question at least once. “Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?” If you haven’t, just hang on because it’s coming. Personally, I’m not a big fan of hanging labels on people like this, but we should look at what they are first.
A Plotter is a writer who knows his or her story backward and forward before writing a single word on the manuscript. Often, Plotters create detailed outlines so there are no surprises as he or she writes the novel.
A Pantser is a writer who flies by the seat of his or her pants and starts writing and allows the story to flow organically and in the moment. Pantsers usually don’t know how the story is going to end when they start writing.
And then there are writers like me who fall somewhere in the middle. For the sake of this blog post, we’ll call us Plotty Pants, a name that I just coined and one that I am equally sure is going to come back and bite me in the ass eventually.
At the beginning of a project, be it novel, short story, comic book, screenplay, whatever, I work out a loose plot in my head. I do work-for-hire projects for publishers and those projects usually require me to send a brief synopsis/plot for approval before hand so having some idea where the story is going helps a lot.
I don’t write outlines. Nothing against those writers who do, but outlines don’t work for me. I just don’t like them. I tried outlining some of my earlier stories and found myself losing interest in writing the actual story because I had this feeling like I had already told this story and was ready to move on to something else. Because I had put all the work into the outline, I felt as though I was writing it twice. Your mileage may vary, but I stopped outlining after that.
What I do is work through part of the plot in my head, hitting the high points, conversations that I’ve envisioned, things like that. I call these signposts on the journey from the beginning to the end of the story. I the write from one signpost to the next, but that still leaves me open to follow the story wherever it leads. There are times when this works really well.
I’m working on a novel called Blood Shot (coming 2015) that had one of these moments in it. I started writing and knew I needed to cut away from our main protagonists for awhile so I started writing about this guy and his girlfriend, getting into who they are, their relationship, his comparing her to his ex-wife (internally, of course), things like that. Then, I end it with her slipping his work keycard from his pocket while he’s not looking to end on a bit of a suspenseful note. I knew later that there would be a character who would break into a building so this was easy enough, but I couldn’t decide how the guy fit into things.
I had a few options. Option one: I could leave it as is and let him fade away as unimportant, which seemed a bit of a cheat after spending a couple of pages getting to know him. Option two: I could wait and see if it fit. Option three: I could cut the chapter and use it in another project if I needed to do so. I decided to go with option two and wait while I kept on writing. If it didn’t work, I could cut it later and work in the thief’s first appearance another way.
Two chapters later, I realized how he fit and it was if it had been planned from the beginning. The two main protagonists in this novel are Washington DC Homicide Detective Catherine “Jacks” Jackson and Secret Service Agent Samantha Patterson. One of them (I’m not saying which one so there won’t be spoilers since the book isn’t out yet) is divorced; as we had learned earlier in the novel. The pieces fell into place. This man and my protagonist were once married. Suddenly, this guy who I wasn’t sure fit in the novel suddenly became an integral part of the narrative… all because I was open to the possibility of seeing where the story took me. It’s not something I would have accomplished working with a full outline.
Each writer has to decide which method works best for him or her. That usually happens trial and error. I suggest trying your hand as both a Pantser and a Plotter and see which one works best for you. Or, if you’re like me, you can also be a Plotty Pants.