Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pantster vs plotter: which are you?

There are two different theories of how to write good stories (there are possibly more, but these are the ones I’m familiar with at the moment). One says that you must plot out every move of your characters, plan every breath they take. The other says, “throw out the map and just drive!”

It’s funny—in all other aspects of life, I am a planner. I like to know what’s for dinner, who will be taking my pre-teen to karate, and what time we are going to my mother-in-law’s on Easter. When it comes to writing, though, I am more inclined to take an occasional peek at the map, but for the most part, I leave it in the glove box.

My definitions of plotters and pantsters are as follows:

Plotter: Plotters tend to outline every last scene, planning the first kiss, the first bom shikka bow wow and every speed bump in between. Before they even begin to write the story, they know who all of the characters are, including the secondary and “extras” (those who show up for a single scene in a single chapter and are never heard from again). They know each character’s history, right down to their blood type. Okay, maybe they don’t go that far, but some may… Many plotters will simply not put up with unruly characters trying to force a story in a particular direction.

Pantster: Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants when writing, hence the name. They are the polar opposites of plotters. Pantsters sit at the computer and let the words flow, hoping that their muses are giving them the proper directions. Pantsters may come up with a name for a character and then fill in more info about the character as the story progresses. They often have no clue where the story is going except perhaps toward a “happily ever after”. Characters often step in and change the course of the story. If the pantster tries to ignore the characters, said characters will often step in and grab the writer’s muse, traipsing off to Cancun with the muse for an indeterminate about of time.

Then, there are those of us who fall in between. We don’t have every little detail plotted, but we may have some notes on major plot points. We know more than just the names of our characters, but they can still surprise us. We know the general ending but not necessarily how we are going to get there. It’s driving with the roadmap but only checking it once in awhile—still some sense of adventure but with a course plotted out.

I know, in general, where my current WIP is headed. Any idea how to get there? Nope. 

So which are you? A pantster? A plotter? Or something in between?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Yeah, yeah--I'm a bad blogger...

I know it's been awhile. I want to post at least two or three times per week, but here's my post-Spring Break rundown (and it has run me down, for sure):

We've rented a house now for quite a few years from a decent couple who live out of the country. They own two houses here that are side by side. Their last visit found us stumped--they were not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, but they left us with a feeling of insecurity. Suddenly, they wanted us to pay for repairs to the appliances and the sprinkler system.

It was winter in Florida (a notoriously bad time for grass) and they were complaining about the upkeep of the lawns--they wound up hiring a man to do the lawn on the home they use for their visits and paying him twice as much as what they were taking off of our rent to do the same work. The land lady's first comments on entering our house to come for a visit was about how bad the rug looked. We've lived here seven years and they've never once paid for the rugs to be steam-cleaned. We had it done one time, and I was going to do them before their visit, but just ran out of time. My parents were coming to visit as well and I had to arrange flights, hotel and car for them, plus the kids were out of school and we'd been back and forth on if the teen was going for a training or not the day after Christmas. Needless to say, we began to worry. What if they upped our rent next year? What if they decided they didn't want us in their home next year?

Now the reason we've rented is because we've been hoping for a transfer back to New England, where hubby and I are both from and where my (elderly and in declining health) parents live. At this point, it looks like the transfer is not coming and we'll be living here for at least another seven years by the time we get both boys through school. With that in mind, we've decided to buy a house. We went looking. And looking. We put in offers and if the house wasn't sold to someone else before the ink was dry on our offer, then someone else's offer was accepted over ours.

Our realtor suggested looking outside of the area we had chosen (based on our kids' schools) and so we did. The tide of houses turned to a trickle. We found one that had just gone on the market hours earlier. The only real problem was that it was our second choice of schools and would involve our teen finishing high school in a different school. We put in an offer and after some hemming and hawing, we were accepted, mostly due to my hubby's military veteran status.

We have spent the past week getting our ducks in a row, signing papers, asking my dad for help with closing costs and finding out about the legalities involved in trying to keep the teen at his school (DON'T try to fudge the address--it's a felony, BTW).

I've been dealing with a sulky teen (and his GF), who was fine with the move before we signed legally binding papers but went through a phase of "I don't wanna move to the other school" before returning to the grown-up decision of "If I have to, I'll go". Plus, trying to keep Mr. Hyper-boy focused on finishing his classes when all he wants to do is pack. Hubby has been blessedly calm during all of this. Last Saturday, I had my monthly RWA meeting and had to leave early for the (very thorough home inspection). Now we have our laundry list of things to do once we close; luckily, there's nothing major that NEEDS doing.

I have been going to my doctor for mid-life testing with one more to go tomorrow, but that's been a stressor, as well. For the past week, I've been suffering from a severe cold with migraines but been unable to really take anything for it because of tomorrow's test.

My mother, who lives in New England with Dad, is slowly deteriorating with some form of undiagnosed dementia. She goes for her visit to the doctor today, hopefully to be diagnosed so that Dad can get some help. I am an only child so there are no siblings to give Dad relief. I was hoping to fly up in May and send Dad off for a long week-end but now we're closing on the house and will be doing painting, cleaning, packing and moving then. Before summer is over, I will make the time to get up there, even if it's only for a few days. I will have to bring Mr. Hyper, no doubt.

Put in the fact that I run my own business and it's been difficult staying on top of that with everything else going on and you have the last of my excuses reasons for not blogging for the past two weeks. I have also written nothing in just over a week.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kids and school breaks

[Picture of kid making mess]

Thank any and every deity—Spring Break is over! Every year, my DH takes a short break to drive three states away and hang out with a bunch of his friends. Most of the time, I have no problem with this. Unfortunately, this year, his vacation just happened to coincide with Spring Break.

The past week has been like a stroll through Hell. Two boys who normally get along well, despite a five year age difference, become squabbling idiots without the “Dad voice” to keep them in check. Their listening ears apparently need tuning, as well, to take in the frequency of Mom’s voice. Then, the teen’s girlfriend was over for most of the week. Not that I don’t like her—I do, but every day, spending the day with an extra child was beginning to set my teeth on edge.

Hubby is home now and things are beginning to settle back into their routine. I actually got some writing in today, a process which was defeated each and every day during the break due to tension headaches. In their defense—out of either kindness or self-preservation—the boys did make me breakfast in bed on Sunday.

Summer break should not be as bad. The teen, who is in the Naval Sea Cadet program, will be going on three different trainings, and so will be gone for most of the summer.

The pre-teen will need constant entertainment. Unfortunately, one of his best friends leaves the country for the entire break and spends it with his grandparents. Other friends are gone on vacations for weeks at a time. I would get with some other mothers and switch off days of watching each others’ kids, but I’m not the motherly type. One set of grandparents lives close by but works, so I can’t ship him to stay with them for any amount of time. The other set is too old and in too bad health to handle him on their own. He’s too young for a job, but he is one of those kids who is a bundle of energy all the time—he even talks in his sleep! LOL So, what would you do to entertain such a boy on a limited budget?