I was asked recently for a bit of creative writing advice. I wouldn't consider myself an expert since I'm still learning, and I always will be. There's always something new to learn with writing, or hone as much as you can. Then when you think you've gotten it, it's like you level up and you start all over again! But that's good… in my opinion, that's how it should be and when you stop learning, well…

So… I'm going to talk a little bit about types of writers. I personally am a combination. I am half plotter and half panster (this type is sometimes called a discovery writer).

Alien Surgeons' Seduction book coverFor me, that means I work out my basic overall plot for a book first. I have my characters, I know where they are at the beginning and a basic idea of how the big plot will unravel. That's it. 

In Alien Surgeon’s Seduction I knew Isan was a healer, I knew Shannon was a human colonel and I knew Isan had a secret (he actually had two and I didn’t know about the second until I was 2/3rd’s of the way through the book!) and I knew at some point he was going to have to make a BIG sacrifice but that was it.

Then I make notes, working out what happens in my story and in what order. There is something called a story beat, things that HAVE to happen in a story for it to make sense and for it to be emotionally satisfying to read. For romance, these are things include things like the Meet Cute (literally when the characters meet), midpoint intimacy, the breakup, the black moment, the HEA, etc. I tend to use an adapted version of Gwen Hayes’ – Romancing the Beat outline (https://amzn.to/2Ng1960).

But… I don’t fill everything out. My plot outline is never set in stone. At least, not all of it. At first, I will only set the first quarter or so of the plot down. Then I write. I need to discover what the characters are all about, how they react on the page and to each other. Once I have that first couple of scenes down, I have a better handle on who they are, and that’s where the real fun begins! Sometimes I can then go on and plot the entire rest of the book but others, I can only plot a quarter at a time, waiting new discoveries in the next section. Which is sometimes frustrating as hell (especially when characters throw curve balls and you end up with a subplot that extends your wordcount) and sometimes quite liberating because it’s exciting and fresh!!

So, for you writing peeps. What kind of writer are you? Plotter? Panster / discovery writer? or somewhere in between?

NB – I would just like to say, there is NO wrong way to write. You write how works for YOU.

NB2 – For grammar and punctuation there is VERY definitely a right way and that’s why we have editors!!