Following a Story Where it Leads

magicalhorseSome writers are pantsers. They ‘fly by the seats of their pants’ and write what they feel at a given moment. I’m more of a plotter. Usually, I come up with a couple of characters and start imagining situations they could be in. I mull things over until a few scenes really gel, then I make a rough outline and start writing. I’m a control freak. I need to have some idea where all of the bits and pieces go before I can lose myself in the writing.

The new story I’m working on has decided to make me crazy. I’ve never written a mystery, but I thought it would be fun to write a gay mystery romance. I’ve never written a historical. So, why not a gay mystery historical romance? I actually did a significant amount of research for my epic fantasy series, and I enjoy research, so I thought researching this new book would be a lot of fun. Ha! The story had other ideas….

I thought I understood my story. I thought I knew what it was going to be about. I had a spiffy outline that told me what I wanted to hear. But my research turned up new things. Horrible things. Things I thought I knew, thought I understood, but….um…no. The world I’m writing about is so much darker and more frightening than I imagined–and I chose the area because it always frightened me as a child. I chose the era because it seemed like a spooky period, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

My research turned my pathetic little outline on its ear. The story is morphing, growing into some hungry new beast. It’s thrilling, honestly. Is this why pantsers get so starry-eyed when talking about their process? I, because I’m still a stodgy control freak, am slavishly bleeding out another outline. Being thrown into the briars was fun, however.

I have an ambitious project to tame. I imagine it will throw me again when it feels bored. For the moment, I’m excited by where it has taken me.


One thought on “Following a Story Where it Leads”

  1. This is so exciting! I love that you’re going all cross-genre and free-wheelin;)

    I think that mysteries take some plotting because you want to throw in two-three red herrings. I have a wonderful book by Hallie Ephron called “Writing & Selling your Mystery Novel.” I used some of the advice there for To Charm a Killer and To Sleep with Stones. To Render a Raven has turned into a thriller and I didn’t plan it. I left it up to the boys. I just kept asking, “what happens now?” Sometimes, I get sticky feet but if I trust my crew, they will show me something I didn’t expect, like a scene I wasn’t planning. Like a dalliance I didn’t expect. Consequently, things have gone mad.

    I hope the same for your hungry beast. Research is one of my favourite things. Now you’ve got me really curious about this spooky era. Tell us more.


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