Here It Is! I Found It! In the Candlelight.

September 3, 2019

I shuffled through the bedroom to the adjoining bathroom wondering why it was so light in the room. Squinting at the bedside clock, my eyes opened wide. The digital clock was blank. I looked around the room suspiciously, wondering if one of my cats had somehow pulled the plug.

Shaking my head, I continued to the bathroom and flipped on the light switch. Nothing happened. I groaned, completed my morning routine and ventured into the kitchen where my boyfriend was reading the paper.

His head appeared over the newspaper. “Power went out an hour ago.”

Glancing at the clock, I understood why it was so much lighter in the bedroom. I grunted, got out a bowl with oatmeal and opened the microwave door. “Oh. Duh. Let’s go out for breakfast.”

“OK, the power will probably be on by the time we get back. It never goes off long here.”

candle2

He was wrong.

That evening, as he found our flashlights and battery-powered radio, I lit candles throughout the main floor rooms. The candles imbued a dreamy ambiance. The only problem was that I kept tripping over our black cat.

“This is great.” I plumped up the cushions on the living room and settled in with a thick book. “How often do you get to read with no other demands?”

He raised his eyebrows. “You’re not going to write?”

“Nah. Still not in the mood. I’m only about half recharged from our train trip.” (My earlier post – Big Sky, Blank Paper – explains how I had run out of creative energy, was unable to write, and needed to recharge.)

The next evening, I got home from work to find the power still out. We went through the same routine as the previous evening, except I was all read out.

“Why are you pacing?” my boyfriend asked.

I shrugged. “Dunno. Restless.”

I looked around the quiet, peaceful room with its multiple candles flickering from the slight breeze wafting in through the open windows, and I was compelled to sit down and write. My calico cat curled up next to me and I breathed in the scent of the rose candles on the mantle. With my writing pad on my lap and my favorite gel pen in hand, I wrote. I was calm. I was thoughtful. The words flowed.

candle1

The third evening, I again lit my candles and settled down for an evening of writing. And then we heard a click.

The lights and fans turned on. Through the open windows, we heard the neighbors cheering and we joined in with delight. Relief mingled with disappointment. Writing would not be on the agenda that evening.

The fridge and freezer needed to be cleaned out, laptops and phones charged, candles and flashlights put away… writing would have to wait for the following day.

As I threw away spoiled food, gratitude welled up. Losing electricity had prompted a personal recharge (and an appreciation for all the things electricity provides). I had found my way back to my happy writing place.

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What is My Main Character Doing Now?

August 20, 2019

I’m a pantser when I write; I’m a plotter in most other aspects of my life.

When I wrote the previous sentence, I believed it; however, by the time I finished writing this post, I realized it’s not true, so I left it and added this sentence. Just like a pantser.

People in the writing industry know the terms “pantser” and “plotter”. Early in my fiction writing, I went to a writing conference session led by Dr. Stanley D. Williams. According to his web site, he’s an international award-winning video producer, filmmaker and show creator.

Although Williams is a movie guy, his expertise translates easily into book writing – it’s all about the story, after all. During his presentation, he mentioned pantsers and plotters. My writer friend and I immediately said to each other in unison: “What did he say?”.

In my own words:

scribbled notes

“Pantsers” begin writing with only a few ideas of what will happen in the story They may have a main character and conflict and determine the rest, or they may just sit down and write, see what character is formed, what conflict develops. This is the way I write.

“Plotters” outline the entire book from start to finish. They know all the characters, all the conflicts, in what order these conflicts will occur, who will do what to whom, and how the book will be resolved.

writing outline

There are variations within each. Most people are somewhere in the middle but lean toward one or the other.

A thousand years ago when I had to write papers in college, all the professors insisted we turn in an outline first. They didn’t care (or didn’t believe me) when I told them I didn’t use outlines. I wrote all my papers well ahead of the due dates so I could then write the outline from the paper. I guess all my professors were plotters.

I don’t like word counts – I often say “it’ll be as long or as short as it needs to be” although when I’m writing a novel, I do keep an eye on word count so I know when to put in conflicts or resolve them. I’m guessing that plotters know the exact page on which they introduce or resolve a conflict. I have no idea how to do that. Plotters probably can’t conceive of how I write either.

According to Williams, there are drawbacks to each approach. Again, in my own words:

A pantser may have to rewrite if the story goes somewhere unexpected. They may have to change or add characters, add foreshadowing, change some plot lines. I once had a character change from a bad guy to a good guy halfway through so I had to change all the bad guy foreshadowing early in the manuscript.

I’m often surprised by what the people in

my stories do.

A plotter may be so bored by writing what they already know is going to happen that it can be difficult to see the writing all the way through. Also, if they want to change something, then they have to change the whole outline.

So, how do these terms translate into other areas of my life? Ten minutes ago, when I started writing this, I would have said I’m a plotter. But I’m not. I do a general plan but leave some things open. Exactly like I write.

When I vacation, I book the flight and hotels and a few activities. I leave plenty of time open for the unexpected. I once took a train across country at the last minute – one of my best trips ever.

My work is strategic planning, marketing and outreach. I begin with a definite plan and, even though I have years of experience determining what motivates people to buy or give or come back, you can never say for sure what people will do. So, I allow time and room to adapt the original plan after it’s launched.

As for relationships in my life, well, um, you can’t plan those, can you? Lol.

When people are involved, you can’t plan in detail. At least I can’t. Just like in real life, I’m often surprised by what the people in my stories do. This can be good or bad, but it’s most always fun – at least in stories.

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Photos by Fabian Grohs, Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

 


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