Thursday, May 4, 2017

Plotting and Not Plotting

When I write, I'm what's known as a Pantser.  As in, I write by the seat of my pants, making it up as I go.  Since I sell on Synopsis, that isn't always a good thing.  Stuff changes, though so far I've been really lucky.

Right now, I'm in the middle of working on a book that will be out in January 2018.  My publisher, Harlequin Books, always asks authors to do what's called an Art Fact Sheet, or AFS.  This has all kind of questions about the story - character descriptions, potential scenes for the cover, and an abridged synopsis as well a the old 'describe the book in one sentence with no more than 30 words.'

I have spent two days working on the AFS for this book that I'm only halfway through writing.  And boy, did I learn a lot.  I've had to make notes, because I'm going to have to go back and make some Major Major Changes (caps intentional!)  There's nothing like finding huge holes in your plot, let me tell you!  However, I'd rather figure that out now instead of after I'm completely finished with the book.  Honestly, this book is my 40th book for Harlequin (and 50th published,) so you'd think I'd learn.

What I have learned is each book is different.  Like the way siblings are each unique individuals, despite coming from the same set of parents.  Some books seem to pour out, like writing down what happens when you watch a movie.  These books are rare, let me tell you.

Other books (the most common, at least for me,) are like pulling teeth.  Writing into a corner and having to go back and change stuff.  Figuring out a major plot point while in the middle of writing and again, having to go back and change stuff.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that none of the words or scenes are set in stone.

I'm always fascinated by how other writers write.  I envision that there are some writers, somewhere, who just get it write the first time.  They plot and plan and do scene structures and never, ever get bored.  I both envy them and admire them.  Because that's not me.  If I try to do all that too far ahead of time, my brain thinks I've written the story and I'm done.  Not another word.

All writers are different too.   That's what makes our various styles so interesting.

I write this on the last day of April.  My April Harlequin Romantic Suspense - The Texan's Return - spent four weeks on Bookscan's Top 100 Romance Books.  That makes me happy.

My next book - out in July - is a Harlequin Nocturne.  It's really different, even for me.  It's called Her Guardian Shifter and features a Bear Shape-shifter instead of a wolf.  I love the cover, so here it is (hint, you'll probably see it again before June!)

You can, if you're so inclined, pre-order it here:   Amazon


  1. The AFS changes a lot of things, doesn't it. And I still wonder if anyone looks at it after you open a vein to fill it out!

  2. Love the cover! And do I ever relate to the panster style of plotting. I just haven't found any other way that works for me.

  3. I am so impressed that you've done 40 books for Harlequin. I gotta tell you, the last time I did an AFS for them I decided I never wanted to write another book for them. It took me two days! And even though I sent pix of how I wanted my hero to look, they got one completely different. And ugly. Grrr. I really admire you. And super congrats for your four weeks on BookScan! Great accomplishment.


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