I’m a pantser, not a plotter, which means I don’t write an outline or synopsis (summary of the entire story) before I write the pages. I start with an idea, maybe asking a few “what if” or “what next” questions, then let the characters tell me what to write by seeing their world through their eyes.
Sometimes I do need to make decisions in advance. In my second release, FOLLOW YOUR HEART, the heroine Joanna is a glass-painter. I knew I had to have at least one scene in her workshop with other characters present so I could show her at work. But I didn’t know what would happen in those scenes or whose point of view they’d be in.
Other times, things happen that I didn’t see coming–such as an event near the middle of FYH involving an antagonist. I was so surprised at a certain discovery that my jaw literally dropped. Instead of wondering how I was going to make that work because it took the story in a different direction, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I did step out of the scene for a bit o think how I could heighten the stakes even more. Once I figured that out, the characters were back in charge.
Perhaps because I’ve had so much improv training (including Second City) and performance experience, I believe in following the rule of “Yes, and” when writing. This means that once something has been established in a scene, you can’t deny it or say no. You must agree with it and add something new.
For example, if we were scene partners in an improv class or show and you said, “I’m so glad you’re my sister,” I couldn’t say, “No, I’m not. I’m your mother.” I could say, “Me, too. And being the oldest is the best.” This moves the scene forward by providing new information, which is a gift to your partner.
This can be time-consuming at first if something happens that sends me off to do a lot more research, but I’m sharing the characters’ story.
I hope readers enjoy Joanna and Adrian’s story as much as I did writing it.