Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pantster Vs Plotter

My husband frequently asks me (usually when we’re in the van going or returning from somewhere), “What’re you thinking about?” My answer is always the same, “About my characters in the novel I’m working on,” or “I’m developing more conflicts in my novel.”

I am an SOTP, not a Plotter. For those who write, you know what I’m talking about. SOTP stands for Seat-of-the-Pants, or shortened to Pantster. I never plot or outline. I start with an idea and it just blossoms and unfolds as I write. Writing like that drives Plotters wacky, but for a Pantster, plotting takes the fun out of it.

I am ALWAYS amazed at how my writing takes twists and turns that I had no idea about in the beginning. For me, as a Pantster, it’s like opening the most delightful, intriguing presents at Christmas. What fun!

Alas, even as a Pantster I have to force myself to keep track of certain things. I keep a spreadsheet with names, dates, locations, etc. If not, I can get totally skewed. Nothing is worse than calling the local pharmacist Charlie, a very minor character, in the beginning and then calling him Bob later on because I didn’t note the name assuming I wasn’t going to use him again.

Last night I was writing on my WIP (work in progress) The Roof of the King and I needed to put the name of Josiah’s – my main male character – secretary. I had used her in the beginning, and typical Pantster, was confident I wouldn’t use her again. BUT…there I was, needing her name and couldn’t remember it. I had to go back and search for it. Voila, her name is Jan. A Plotter would never have that problem.

By the way, The Roof of the King is not about a king other than the fact that Josiah, great man of God, falls to moral temptation like King David did with Bathsheba.

Whether you’re a Plotter or a Pantster, write as God inspires and directs you. God’s not as concerned about the method as He is the message. Having said that, I encourage you to pray over your writing and then pray some more.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Writing and Dieting! Say, What?

That sound you hear is me heaving a long, drawn-out, noisy sigh! Why, you may ask, am I sighing? Well, I’ll tell you. I started Weightwatchers Online two weeks ago. I have discovered dieting is much like writing – it takes discipline.

For some of you, this is not a new discovery. But for me, who has been thin all my life (okay, all you haters, go ahead and hate – I hate that skinny me who could eat anything I wanted and not gain weight. She has deserted me), dieting is a real challenge. I weigh as much now as I did when I gave birth to my babies – only I have no baby inside to blame my protruding belly on. If it wasn't so obvious how old I am, I'm sure people would be asking, "So when is your baby due?"
As a kid, eating was a nuisance. Ugh! Who wanted to take time out to eat when there were so many fun things to do instead? Nor was I a big sweet-eater, not as a kid or even as a young adult. Not sure when that changed, but change it did. Don’t be surprised to find me in the bakery section of the grocery store quietly eating my way through all those donuts and pastries ( my sweet weakness)behind those glass doors. Seriously, shouldn’t those doors have a padlock, and not easy-open access?

I discipline myself to write. Once I start, I’m glad I did. Getting started can be a challenge. So it is with dieting. Getting started wasn’t as hard as sticking to it. We had company over the weekend – well, every Sunday after church family comes over for lunch. But this Sunday I had my family and some of my husband’s family (at a different time).

I cooked and baked. And I ate! Then I ate some more…and more! You get the picture. I lost one pound my first week on Weightwatchers, and gained it back the second week just from the weekend alone. (another heavy sigh)

Today though, I am focused on my diet, and on my writing. It’s all discipline! Unlike yesterday when I arose determined to write several chapters on my WIP, and instead, put a jigsaw puzzle together. Discipline, discipline, discipline. I refuse to give away my skinny clothes, and I refuse to leave poor Betty, one of my main characters, at that rehab when she really wants to go home now. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Bible and Literature

From a 1931 textbook Good Reading For High School – English Writers, page 166 The Bible. “In addition to the fact that it is a sacred document, the Bible owes its place in literature (1) to its noble theme – God, man, and the universe; (2) to its superb but simple style; (3)and to the majestic music of its prose. The translation here followed is the work of forty-seven scholars appointed by King James I, and is consequently known as the King James Bible or the Authorized Version. It is the most famous book in the world.”

For years I was a Missionette Sponsor at church. It’s like the Christian version of Girl Scouts. Those girls had to memorize lots of scripture, and it was commonly understood that it’s easier to memorize the King James version of the Bible because of its poetic flow. Today, you would never find the Bible included in a school textbook, unless perhaps it’s some class on religions.

What a shame as a writer that the Bible isn’t used more as a teaching tool for the craft of writing. It is a plethora of the deeds, thoughts and actions of the human heart and mind. God includes the best of humanity and worst of humanity. Have you ever wondered why the worst. I have.

I think God didn’t want us to have unreal expectations of the capabilities of mankind. Who would want to be a Christian if the standard was perfection? There is only One who is perfect, and His name is Jesus. We are to pattern our lives after Him, and try to follow His example, but we’ll never be perfect. It’s impossible. That’s what makes the Bible great.

Don’t you appreciate that we are loved by Him despite our flaws, failures, and shortcomings?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Writer's Block

I love it when I don’t have to force myself to write. When I first started my writing journey I admit I had a difficult time understanding ‘writer’s block’ or writers that moaned about not wanting to write. Really, I thought. Isn’t that kind of like a food addict saying “Oh, I must force myself to eat all the foods I love?”

Ah, but now I understand. Unfortunately, I have understood it all too well for a couple of years now. By understand, I mean I’ve experienced it. However, I really don’t understand. Why must one force them self to do something they love, something they’re passionate about?

When I’m in a slump, I pray, I give myself pep talks, I threaten myself (well, not really, but maybe I should), and then I pray some more.  The thing about prayer is that God will nudge, and encourage us to do something, but He won’t make us. We have to do that on our own.

Yesterday I wrote 3000 words or more on a manuscript I’ve already written over 50,000 words. I fell in love with the story, the characters, all over again. I gave my characters new twists, new adventures, new struggles and conflicts.

I’ve titled the book The Roof of the King’s House, but I’m thinking of changing the title to In An Eveningtide. It’s a modern version of 2 Samuel 11: 1 & 2. It involves the handsome Josiah, passionate about his ministry and God; Betty, Josiah’s sister’s best friend, who has loved Josiah since childhood; Leah, the spoiled, only child of wealthy, Jewish parents – Leah, who has a life changing encounter with Jesus; Tony, who marries Leah before he ships off to the war in Vietnam and returns a wounded, troubled man.

I love it when the words just flow from my mind to my fingers to the manuscript.