Answer: Back when I was first a book editor then a literary agent and still a publishing author I was a Planner big time. I even wrote an article called “The Painless Synopsis” for Writers Digest Magazine. I was devoted to planning my stories in detail up-front. I had to do that because my writing life was regularly interrupted by my day job.
My workday mind had to be deep into agent tasks. I needed a synopsis to keep track of my story as I dragged my head back and forth between my agent brain and my writer brain. My guess is that most people juggling a full-time job with a writing regimen need to do the same.
Now that I’m a full-time writer I can indulge myself with the joy of making it up as I go along. Because I write Romantic Suspense I start out with three characters – a murder victim, a heroine and a hero. I also know the conflict that motivated the killing and at least a little about how the heroine and hero fall onto opposite sides of that conflict.
I also try to have an idea how the story ends – who committed the murder. But I’ve written two books this way so far and by the end of both of them the identity of the killer had changed and the stories were better for it. I now understand that I shouldn’t cast the ending in stone up-front. It’s better to leave room for my imagination to find its way.
Kurt Vonnegut compares this approach to driving at night. You can see as far as the headlight beams allow you to see. A former client of mine Jo Beverley calls it “Flying into the Mist.” I call it fun.
I’m playing with my story and my story is playing with me. I can afford the luxury of this playfulness because my head is pretty much always in the story. I no longer have to interrupt the flow to bury my gray cells in my day job.
In my case at least the choice between Planner and Pantster couldn’t always be about preference. It had to be about my circumstances. Like so many of us – I did what I had to do. I feel blessed that what I have to do now is have a storytelling good time.
My current novel is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – launches with summer on June 22nd. These are my 12th and 13th novels and both were Pantster born and brought to life. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.