I’m a pantser by nature. My mind rejects organization.
When I think of a story and the characters speak to me, I’m happy as hell to let my fingers make some invisible connection to the ether and spew whatever they find there into my computer. This freedom is a phenomenal, almost spiritual, feeling.
But there’s a problem.
I lose my way.
As a pantser, I never finished a story of more than about 3000 words. The novel of my life, my magnum opus, ground to a halt at 165,000 words three pages before the end because I’d pantsed my way through and, despite some sections and scenes that were frankly awesome, I could not finish. Why? Because the plot holes were just too darn huge. Because I hadn’t thought the story through. 165,000 words and pfft!
What was a pure D pantser to do?
That’s right. I quit
I. AM. A. QUITTER.
“Quitter!” I yelled at myself in the bathroom mirror. “Ass-hat. Failure.” With my finger, I drew a raging face in the fogged up glass and felt sorry for myself.
A finger that wasn’t mine drew a happy face beside it. “You know,” said my wife, “It’s possible you will always be an ass-hat, but you don’t have to be either a quitter or a failure.”
Okay, I feel better now. I think.
Turns out, my wife is a plotter. Faced with a situation, she immediately sees a thousand permutations and ramifications. She sees logical steps, problems, and solutions. She sees cause and effect.
“How about,” she said, “we work on something together?”
“You’d collaborate with an Ass-hat?”
For answer, she waved the third finger of her left hand under my nose and marched me into the bedroom.
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It turns out we collaborate quite effectively.
Together, we decided to write erotica. At her suggestion, we opted for paranormal erotica.
The sex part was okay. More than okay. But paranormal? Shifters? Guys who turn into wolves or tigers or bears? Worse, little faeries or—please God, no—angels and demons?
I was close to donning my Ass Hat again. But then she waved her magical hand out the window, directing my attention to the second love of my life grazing peacefully in the paddock.
Horses! Oh, I could so do horses.
Well, not actually DO horses, because that’s more kink than I care for, but I could write about horse-shifters having massive amounts of explicit sex.
I only had one proviso. The MMC, the shifter-dude hero guy, had to have a certain name. A name I was in love with and had been trying to find a story for, for a long time.
Remember that name, dear Reader. Remember it well.
My needs taken care of, we sat down and began to fight, I mean plot. We created characters with flaws and personalities; we created backstory, history, mythology. In short, we created a world and a set of problems and solutions for the inhabitants of that world. Poor bastards.
Then I began writing. In sixteen months, I’ve written approximately 300,000 words – 2 short stories, 3 novellas, and 3 novels.
They have beginnings, they have endings, they have action packed middle-bits. They’re not to everyone’s taste, sure, but they’re FINISHED and, best of all, they’re not crap! The fact that they turned out to be mixed genre romance instead of erotica is irrelevant.
Plans for another 10 novels lie strewn about the house.
Conclusion – plotting works, for us anyway.
Do I stick religiously to the plots my logical other half and I create? Hell, no. But working out the milestones together provides a framework that enables me to roam freely through the fertile lands of my imagination while always having a beacon to lead me home.
And if ever I need help, I just sidle up beside her and whisper, “Honey, I’m having trouble with my pants,” and BOOM!
ALL. THE HELP. I NEED.
With her plots in…um…my pants…I…we…uhhhhh…
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