Plotting By The Seat Of Your Pants

Plugging away.

That’s how writing goes often. Keep chopping wood. Put more words on the page.

Writers know that there are two general methods for getting a story on paper. The plotters love to outline, charting each scene and building up a framework that their words can fill in. The pantsers, so named for writing by the seat of their pants, make it up as they go.

Not quite the idea…
The plotters like knowing where they are going, having a map or blueprint to follow. The pantsers will tell you how their story can be more organic, being surprised by the twists and turns that pop up along the way.
How about a middle way?

Of course people do this all the time. You don’t have to be tried and true to one method to get to “The End.”

I was surprised when this started happening with me though.

I’ve always been an outline guy when writing papers. In college I would do my research, label it all out with Roman numerals and A. B. C., and when I was all done, write my final draft as my first draft. All done. Ready to go!
Yeah, it’s not that easy when writing a novel.

Closer? I dunno…
I have a general outline in my head. I know where my protagonists need to be…eventually. I have the ending all worked out. There was just a little problem with the middle, and getting them to where they needed to be. A small issue.

I kept dealing with writer’s block whenever I finished a point on my outline. Where to go next? How do I get there?

I’ve started doing it by the seat of my pants.

A technique that I’ve found effective for me is to set my phone’s timer, meaning I can’t browse the internet for some obscure fact that I HAVE to have for my next scene, and start writing. It might not be the best prose in the galaxy, but I have made progress.

It has been propelling me past these sticking points. I’m forced to make a decision and go with it.

And there’s been some good stuff come out of it. Who would’ve guessed?

I still have my general outline and I still know where I want to end up. But the process of getting there has become more interesting. Hopefully it all turns out when I get there!

So if you’re writing and wondering how best to do get moving – do whatever it takes. There’s no need to just plot or pants it. The point is words on the page.

Time to go set my timer…

Plotting By The Seat Of My Pants

Plugging away.

That’s how writing goes often. Keep chopping wood. Put more words on the page.

Writers know that there are two general methods for getting a story on paper. The plotters love to outline, charting each scene and building up a framework that their words can fill in. The pantsers, so named for writing by the seat of their pants, make it up as they go.

Not quite the idea…
The plotters like knowing where they are going, having a map or blueprint to follow. The pantsers will tell you how their story can be more organic, being surprised by the twists and turns that pop up along the way.
How about a middle way?

Of course people do this all the time. You don’t have to be tried and true to one method to get to “The End.”

I was surprised when this started happening with me though.

I’ve always been an outline guy when writing papers. In college I would do my research, label it all out with Roman numerals and A. B. C., and when I was all done, write my final draft as my first draft. All done. Ready to go!
Yeah, it’s not that easy when writing a novel.

Closer? I dunno…
I have a general outline in my head. I know where my protagonists need to be…eventually. I have the ending all worked out. There was just a little problem with the middle, and getting them to where they needed to be. A small issue.

I kept dealing with writer’s block whenever I¬†finished a point on my outline. Where to go next? How do I get there?

I’ve started doing it by the seat of my pants.

A technique that I’ve found effective for me is to set my phone’s timer, meaning I can’t browse the internet for some obscure fact that I HAVE to have for my next scene, and start writing. It might not be the best prose in the galaxy, but I have made progress.

It has been propelling me past these sticking points. I’m forced to make a decision and go with it.

And there’s been some good stuff come out of it. Who would’ve guessed?

I still have my general outline and I still know where I want to end up. But the process of getting there has become more interesting. Hopefully it all turns out when I get there!

So if you’re writing and wondering how best to do get moving – do whatever it takes. There’s no need to just plot or pants it. The point is words on the page.

Time to go set my timer…

Plotting By The Seat Of My Pants

Plugging away.

That’s how writing goes often. Keep chopping wood. Put more words on the page.

Writers know that there are two general methods for getting a story on paper. The plotters love to outline, charting each scene and building up a framework that their words can fill in. The pantsers, so named for writing by the seat of their pants, make it up as they go.

Not quite the idea…
The plotters like knowing where they are going, having a map or blueprint to follow. The pantsers will tell you how their story can be more organic, being surprised by the twists and turns that pop up along the way.
How about a middle way?

Of course people do this all the time. You don’t have to be tried and true to one method to get to “The End.”

I was surprised when this started happening with me though.

I’ve always been an outline guy when writing papers. In college I would do my research, label it all out with Roman numerals and A. B. C., and when I was all done, write my final draft as my first draft. All done. Ready to go!
Yeah, it’s not that easy when writing a novel.

Closer? I dunno…
I have a general outline in my head. I know where my protagonists need to be…eventually. I have the ending all worked out. There was just a little problem with the middle, and getting them to where they needed to be. A small issue.

I kept dealing with writer’s block whenever I finished a point on my outline. Where to go next? How do I get there?

I’ve started doing it by the seat of my pants.

A technique that I’ve found effective for me is to set my phone’s timer, meaning I can’t browse the internet for some obscure fact that I HAVE to have for my next scene, and start writing. It might not be the best prose in the galaxy, but I have made progress.

It has been propelling me past these sticking points. I’m forced to make a decision and go with it.

And there’s been some good stuff come out of it. Who would’ve guessed?

I still have my general outline and I still know where I want to end up. But the process of getting there has become more interesting. Hopefully it all turns out when I get there!

So if you’re writing and wondering how best to do get moving – do whatever it takes. There’s no need to just plot or pants it. The point is words on the page.

Time to go set my timer…

CSFF Tour Day 2 – The Strange Man

The Strange Man.

It is an evocative title. Why is he strange? What is going on? A look at the cover grabs your eye and might give shivers to someone.

Why have a book like this in Christian speculative fiction?

As others have said in better arguments, Christian fiction is a place that should be able to depict the fight between good and evil, light and darkness, with more authenticity than any horror writer or slasher film. We know there is a battle for souls, with eternal consequences. We know we have a real enemy that is worse than anything that can be imagined.

The review:
The Strange Man has an interesting premise, a promising introduction, a mix of suspense and a little goofy humor, and a cliffhanger ending. These are all positive things I got out of the book. I gave a short synopsis of the book yesterday, and the main character Dras Weldon is an unlikely hero. He does some crazy things like haggling with kids over a vintage G.I. Joe action figure (Snake Eyes! – mega geek points there) and riding his bike sans pants. He adds some humor over the first 2/3 of the book with his slacker ways. Unfortunately, he also becomes a hard character to root for, as his immature ways and cluelessness made me want to smack him after a while.

Overall, the book has some strong points, but ultimately failed to engage me at several points. The suspense is built up well in the first act, but sags in the middle. He ups the ante considerably in the third act, but some of the character progressions seem to be too much in too short a time.

SPOILER ALERT!!

Dras realizes to fight the demonic influence of the Strange Man he must turn to his childhood faith. He was painted as such a stunted adult that his turn-around and willingness to sacrifice anything for his friend Rosalyn is too incredible. I’m willing to accept a demonic force walking around town, but a sudden shift of character is too much. Also, the events that lead to the climax seem too outrageous as well. Dras is accused of killing a police officer, and when that happened I put the book down in frustration for the day. Too improbable, so it threw me out of the fictive picture I was painting in my mind.

END SPOILERS

It seems that Greg has enjoyed the horror genre and wants to emulate it with a Christian twist. I admire his goal, and I applaud writers using this genre (not necessarily my preferred, admittedly) to share a redemptive theme in an accessible form. Unfortunately, the plot doesn’t have enough behind it to propel it through the whole book. The middle starts bouncing us around different people, confusing me and taking away from the central characters. Plot points are introduced and lost. The trick is, this is supposed to be The Coming Evil Trilogy. I don’t know if there’s enough to power it through.

It also suffers from a lot of inconsistencies. Greensboro is at once a dying town, but other times has crowds of teens and college-aged students at a dance club. Demons outrace cars but can’t catch Dras on his bicycle.

Finally, as a writer I noticed that he had a hard time staying in one point of view for a scene. I don’t know if general readers pick up this like I do (having been ruined for reading like I have) but I know I had to check back several times to see who was doing the thinking/perceiving. All of that tends to throw off the reading experience, I feel.

The end even felt improbable from the spoiler section above, but he put enough What the? factor that I am curious to what happens next. Unfortunately, I won’t be returning to Greensboro to find out.

Now this is just one person’s opinion. Becky Miller keeps track of all the tour posts, so be sure to check around to see if I’m way out there on this one. It wouldn’t be the first time…

(I received a free copy of The Strange Man in return for a review and my participation in the CSFF Blog Tour. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)