June 24, 2015

I Don't Wear Plots


Years ago, I noticed my husband was checking out other guys. It wasn't hard to see. He didn't even try to hide his interest. Whenever we were out—wherever we went—he absolutely would spin around to give them the eye... He had a definite type. Rugged, tall, manly. Similar build to his own. Hair color didn't seem to matter. Whether they were alone or with a woman didn't stop him from staring.

It took me a few days of quietly observing to ask what was going on.
Turned out, he was coat shopping.

Yes. He hates shopping. He still has clothes I bought him before we got married. But he needed a new winter coat, and the way he "shopped" was to see what looked good on guys who were built like him.

I dissolved into giggles when I found out. And then I stole the concept for some story I was working on. I changed details, of course. The funniest part was that I was mentally writing the ending the whole time. I had a slew of versions in my head. You can guess where I went. (Auditioning for a gang bang, anyone?) My writing mind took off and ran with the ideas...

Recently, someone asked me if I was a plotter or pantser. I didn't understand the question right away. But (I believe) a plotter is someone who meticulously decides what will happen in a story before writing. And a panster (if I have this correct) flies by the seat of his or her pants.

I don't often know what's going to happen in my stories. My characters tell me where t go, what to do. I've always written this way. Sometimes, I reach a wall, and then I put a story away until it can work itself out. This is why several of my pieces have taken me years. One 1,000 word encounter remained in bits so long that the original editor no longer was publishing stories. I found it a different home.

Right now, I'm working on a novel that is the strangest thing I've ever written. I don't know when I first broke ground on the piece, but it's been years of struggling. Last week, I submitted. I bowed down to the computer and said, "Fine. You want to go that way? Fine."

I started to tell a friend the other day that I can see what reviewers might say. I was in a highly critical mode, dissecting the concept, and she said, "Nobody has said any of that yet. The book isn't even done. Stop taking it apart."

Often, when I hit a road block, I'm at 6,000 words. This one is more than 12K now. I know the end, which is a good thing. I have my characters. I only have to listen to them.

Even after all these years, it's terrifying sometimes to give in. But this one is out of my control. And that's when I realized truly—I don't plot and I don't fly. It's my characters who wear the pants (and, yes, the coats!) in this relationship.

XXX,
Alison

1 comment:

Cora Zane said...

Coat shopping! ^_^ I love it!