Thursday, January 4, 2007


I spent much of my time at Washington Elementary School and Hempstead High School outlining things. Roman numerals, capital letters, numbers, lower case letters---everything orderly and organized (and let's not even think about the sentence diagramming).

When it comes time to plot my writing, I wish I could travel back in time when everything had its place and space. There's always a vague idea of how to get to the HEA, but few specifics. When all the pistons are firing and the fingers are flying, it's great. It's not so hot when they're not.

So, I'm a pantser with a desperate need of an outline. I'm short about 25,000 words, unevenly distributed in the middle of my masterpiece. I invested in a cute red Notetote for my handbag so I can scribble down scenarios as they may come. It's still in pristine condition.

Are you a planner or waiting for the muse? If it's the latter, send her to my house when you're done.


Jackie Barbosa said...

Hi Maggie! Long time, no see. Didn't realize you had a blog until I saw Tessa's post today.

Anyhoo, I'm a pantser to a point. That is, I have a general outline for my WIP (and I have a new one now since I finished the first, yay!), but that outline needs a ton of flesh and I expect things to change a bit as I actually write the story.

I enjoy a bit of uncertainty as I write because the story is unfolding for me in much the same way I hope it will unfold for the reader--with little surprises and unexpected twists along the way. The end of my first book definitely went that way--the final outcome changed several times from what I'd initially envisioned, although the basic elements of the HEA were the same as they'd been from the time I started writing.

I do think it's a good idea to write a basic structural outline for a book and have your critique partners read it before you start writing, though. I'm sure my second book is going to progress much more smoothly because I've thought out the basic elements (internal and external conflicts, plot, etc.) more thoroughly than I did with the first book and my CPs asked me questions about my outline that helped me see where I needed to flesh things out and how. The fact that I've done this doesn't set the story in stone by any means and I still have lots of things to discover about my hero and heroine and their story, but I have a roadmap and a goal, and that should help me get to the end in something under the bloated length of my first book (currently sitting at 125K+).

John Robinson said...

Maggie my dear, you've gone 'round the bend.

Your loving Hubby!

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Jacqueline, thanks so much for your thoughtful post. Sometimes I don't feel like I'm "thinking" unless I'm typing (and I'm a lousy typist...hope that doesn't mean I'm a lousy thinker!). It's hard for me to see a long way down that road. I'll have to get some binoculars.

Tessa Dare said...

Maggie, can you adopt me? Because your family cracks me up. They left more interesting comments on my Fanlit entries than any of my own relatives. I still remember that "boo" so fondly. That, and "Vote for Maggie, I want my mom back!"

I'm a plotter. Can't stand uncertainty. Things change as I write, but I have to have a plan or I'm miserable.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Tessa, I'll make you an honorary Robinson Girl (AKA THe Wayward Daughters). There are three of them already, so be warned!

Tessa Dare said...

It's a deal. Your new grandchildren want to know when they can come to Maine for a nice extended visit.