Monday, June 8, 2015

Characters by Diane Burton

from The Writer's Circle

I saw the above on Facebook and could I ever identify with it. I’m a pantser. My stories always start as a scene or line of dialogue in my head . . . usually as I’m trying to go to sleep. I start writing with a vague thought of what’s going to happen. Since I write a form of romance (science fiction romance and romantic suspense) I know the story will end with a happy-ever-after. As I write, the characters come alive. And then they misbehave.

If my main character appeared in another story, I know a little about him or her. Like Rissa, the MC in The Protector, who appeared in previous Outer Rim books—The Pilot and The Chameleon. I knew she ran a tavern on the frontier, that she was tall, strong, and wore her dark hair in a single braid. Other than that, I knew nothing about her past life, what drove her, what she wanted out of life. That all came out as I wrote. Who knew she would start rescuing kids and take on a child trafficking ring led by a galactic gangster's minion? I didn't.

If I was a plotter, I would have written a detailed character analysis and filled out a GMC (Goal, Motivation, and Conflict) table plus written a detailed outline of the plot. Well, folks, if I’d done all that I would’ve told the story already and have no need to write it. That’s the way pantsers are. However . . . By the time I reach chapter eight, I have to plot, at least a little. Otherwise my characters take off on their own. Then I have to wrestle them back on track. If I’d plotted first, I wouldn’t have to keep going back and adding stuff. Someone described what I do as circular writing. Write some, go back and add, write more, go back and fix, write more, go back and change/delete, etc. Plotters think I waste time. Oh, well. It works for me.

I’m not saying my way is best. I’m not saying plotting is best. It’s what works for the writer.

Now if Rissa and Dillan would behave and quit telling me to change something, The Protector will come out this summer.

Diane Burton writes romantic adventure . . . stories that take place on Earth and beyond. She blogs here on the 8th and 30th of each month and on Mondays on her own site:


Jannine Gallant said...

I'm a plotter who's turned into a panster--to a certain extent. I no longer write those outlines, but I have them circling in my head. I would describe myself as a linear writer. I don't like to go back and delete or add big chunks of plot. So, when my characters misbehave, I dig in and think the way they do and make the new twist work! Fun post!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Diane, I'm with you. I am surprised every day with what comes to me (and the page). Not that it's all good (wouldn't that be wonderful), but I do experience the thrill of discovery in my method of writing.

Margo Hoornstra said...

I'm with the rest of you. The idea of plotting gives me the willies! It's the darnedest thing though, I will write something about a character and have no idea what or why, only to have a series of 'aha' moments as I move the story along. I like that, Diane, circular writing. Though at times I do wish I could write linear, I don't think it's going to happen.

Diane Burton said...

Jannine, sometimes I wish I were a linear writer. It would be faster. LOL But then I'd have so much to revise if I waited until the end.

Rolynn, isn't it wonderful to be surprised? I love it.

Margo, love those aha moments.