Today I am joined by the fabulous Eisley Jacobs as she celebrates the release of her latest book, RUNAWAY CHOICES. Eisley lives in Denver, Colorado with her three children and husband. Eisley actively writes the characters that stroll through her head. The first YA Novel she completed was in high school, but somehow got lost in the shuffle into real life. While studying at college, stories began to plague her mind and she tried her best to keep them at bay while she did more important things like... like... who are we kidding. Her grades suffered because the voices wouldn't stop. So instead of going insane, she wrote.
Eisley’s middle grade novels: BORN TO BE A DRAGON and BLINK OF A DRAGON. Eisley’s new adult novel: RUNAWAY CHOICES
Eisley is talking about writing today...
Thank you Christine for having me guest post on your blog today. It’s such an honor and privilege to be here under the wings of such awesomeness.
So today, I’m here to talk about the process of writing. I hope you’ll grab a latte and scoot up a chair.
If you’re a writer, I’m sure you’ve heard the term pantser or plotter. And if you have, you know that some people are definitely one and not the other. Sometimes it’s even difficult for the pantser to understand the plotter and vice verse. It’s is almost like two totally different languages! (Pantser refers to flying by the seat or your pants and plotter is where you have a clear direction.)
What happens then when a pantser turns into a plotter?
Chaos. Pure and absolute chaos.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Eisley Jacobs.
I started out as a pretty organic writer. Just heading out to sea with an idea and writing until I reached the end. Also known as a pantser. Sometimes then end would come after 190,000 while others I’d get stuck around 45,000 struggling with the story and character motivations. It was always a great adventure but I found myself wondering WHAT’S THE POINT?! Literally. What was the point of the story I had written?
The understatement of the century would be that both these scenarios frustrated me. Either I have way too much or way too little. What is going on?! Why couldn’t I just figure it out?! Thus was the life of this pantser.
Sure, I’d written a few books using the pantser skills I’d been trying so hard to perfect. In fact, two of them are in print now. However, last year when I was writing yet another pantser novel that ended up with no point, something happened. Something radical. Something I thought would never happen… to me.
I became a plotter. Only I didn’t know it.
I spent days staring at the words on the page wondering what went wrong. I then took this manuscript apart. Shredding it into pieces as I chastised myself for doing it again. If you picture a lunatic ripping her manuscript into confetti, you might have a general idea of what was going on in my head. Only it was in the digital world, so there was less to clean up. Or was there more? That’s still up for debate.
As I sifted through the rubble, I discovered I had all the right pieces to the story, but I lacked clear motivation as to why my character would do such a thing. After fighting the urge to burn the darn thing, I pieced the strips of torn paper back together. At this point, I realized with a good reorganization and a few added details, this would be okay. So, I fleshed it out on actual paper in an outline, using the story details I’d already written and adding in the ones I believed were missing. When I came to the end, only then did I realize what I’d just done. I’d broken the cardinal rule of a pantser.
But surely that didn’t mean I was a plotter, did it?
Well, no not yet. But as I finished up the manuscript and realized this indeed worked, I thought about using it again. I mean, why not? If I had done this at the beginning this frustration would have never even seen the light of day.
So, behind closed doors and with no one peeking, I actually plotted four of my next novels.
As a former pantser, this was beyond comprehension. This was exhilarating! All the sudden I had direction and realized regardless of when I was ready to write these stories, they’d be ready for me! I wouldn’t have to worry about losing them in the confines of paperwork or the folds of grey mass (because I do worry about that).
But I have a confession. It also felt a bit naughty. Like I was doing something so against my character that the other people in the pantser community might be shocked! (That was in my head really. No one in the pantser community cares if you are a pantser turned plotter. You just do what is right for your novel.)
However, I didn’t think I cared! I’d been freed!
Now, as a new convert, did that mean I was bound by an outline and a plotting session? I’m actually still trying to debate that. I tried using my pantser method during my last manuscript and had to stop several times and plug it into a timeline or outline. It was like… I had to. Like it was calling to me! And I can’t say my manuscript (or my time) was unhappy I had! I felt like helped make a stronger story, where I can definitely seen the character and story arcs much more clearly then if I’d just been pantsing the whole way through.
There is no wrong way to write a novel. Pansters and plotters can write a fabulously intricate novel that will knock your socks off. I’ve seen it done and I’m happy to identify with the difficulties of both now.
So, which one are you? And would you ever consider trying the other?
Thank you Eisley - I love this post. And as for me, I am a plotter all the way! Be sure to come back tomorrow as I interview Eisley about some of her projects.