A plotter tries pantsing

So I was browsing I-Stockphoto one day, looking for pics for a book trailer video, and I came across this photo of a spooky road. I found it interesting. Intriguing and inspirational, really. The kind of picture you can create a story from. It would make a great book cover.

I downloaded a comp and the germ of a story idea took form in my mind. I write romances, or mainstream with romantic elements, so the germ was romantic.

I had the impression of a woman being driven down this scary road by a man she didn't know -- and, of course, being afraid. But since it would be a romance, they'd get past her initial fear, develop a relationship and end up with their own HEA. The title "Wrong Turn" came to me, so I made a cover (these are inspirational motivators for me) and put it on the back burner.

Every time I ran across my story-less cover, it would tempt me to write a story to match. I finally gave in and decided to attempt a 20,000-word novella, as several romance e-publishers are asking for them.

I'm a plotter -- have to outline, have to make notes, have to do research, have to illustrate... Gotta know my characters, gotta know what happens, and when, and why.

But I decided to write the novella by the seat of my pants. Pantsers, as they are known, just sit down and start typing, and go wherever the story leads. They don't know when they start where it might end up.

I've read that most writers are a little of both -- that pantsers do a little plotting; and that plotters sometimes let the story, or a character, lead them where they will.

I don't know if I can do this pantser stuff. Where this story's taking me is absolutely bizarre. It started taking on a "paranormal" cast. I don't do paranormal. Vampires, shifters, aliens -- forget it. Gimme a real flesh-and-blood son of Adam, a human male, a MAN for my hero. So my hero remained human, and the paranormal elements came from something else.


Yes, Bigfoot in Dixie, since my stories are set in the South. Don't laugh. The Pacific Northwest doesn't have a corner on crypto-primates.

So the story started taking shape... and unfortunately did a little plot shape-shifting, if you'll pardon the pun. What started out as a heroine lost in a storm and then trapped with a mysterious hero by flood waters, now has mad scientists and crypto-monkeys with psychotronic brain implants. Bizarre!

I'm tempted to give up on this story. Just toss it and start plotting a real romance, like normal. But I said I was going to pants it, so I'll keep plugging away at it, until I'm absolutely certain it is a lost cause.

Meanwhile, you natural pantsers out there... Does this ever happen to you?


Red Fox said...

I glanced at the abstract of your novel and already knew that it was going to be smashing - just because it exposes the sorely underlooked issue of false rape and feminism. I'm only sorry that there are too few writers out there who think this way and see things for what they really are. Brilliant work. Props.

Reena Jacobs said...

I've only written one complete novel, and it was pantseater style. I don't recall it taking any funky turns. Though I do recall getting stuck at times (where do I go from here?). Usually, I'd hop in the shower and come out with a new idea.

Mine started out as a paranormal romance, so I guess it was already bizarre to begin with.

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