Monday, January 23, 2012

CRAFT ALERT: How do you write a book?

How do you write your book?

Are you a pantzer?
Or, are you an organizer?

In the beginning, I was a pantzer. I'd sit down and just write. And write and write and write, until I was finished. The first version of my first book I wrote three chapters of description of farm and country, characters and backstory. The good news; this was my first computer, more of a word processor and second hand. The bad news; I didn't know how to save to floopy or anything else. When I bought a new computer (an Asti-sounds like a car, doesn't it?) it never saved. The whole ms. gone. The good news; it was GONE. I had to re-write the whole thing over again.

The second book "Legacy" (You'll hear about that again) was done in the late 90's. (not 1890's--1990's) and I was in a Dracula mode. So, it took place in Romania (half of it still takes place in Romania) It had so many characters you couldn't keep them all straight, especially since the lead character Elena and the villain Erica had names that started with the letter E. I still like the story, but I have to admit, it has changed DRASTICALLY since then.

The third book (forget the name) took place in Paris. Did a lot of research and was in Paris in the 70's. Lots of changes in European laws. Convoluted plots. you get the picture. I was still a pantzer.

The good part of all of that, I was writing short stories entering into the contest hosted by the Amazing Instant Novelist. I wrote at least one to two shorts a week and started learning my craft. I joined the RWA and a local chapter, going to meetings once a month.
I joined online AOL workshops, and RWCList (which is still going strong) and found a critique partner which helped A LOT. I sent my wonderful ms a romantic suspense to Harlequin critique. One of the
comments was "Harlequin will NEVER accept strippers or prostitutes."
Plus if she was going undercover, she probably wouldn't participate in a profession where public clients came in to a club every night.
Oh well.

Then there was Romeo vs Juliette, a novel I'm still thinking about.
The usual girl meets boy in high school, girl gets pregnant, mother kicks girl down stairs and boy is sent off to school in Europe without ever knowing about girls condition. Girl turns up as an FBI agent when boy is under suspicion for being a serial killer.

But, then came Legacy again and then came one day of brainstorming at our local RWA meeting. An idea came for In the Arms of the Enemy. From the many books I'd started to read ("Synopsis" by Pam McCutcheon, "Heroes and Heroines by Sue Viders, Tami Cowden and Carol LaFever, "The Writer's Journey" by Christopher Vogler, "Becoming a Writer" by Brande, "Writing" by Ernest Hemingway, "First Draft in 30 Days" by Karen Wiesner, "Bird by Bird"
by Annie Lamott, "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Browne and King, "Elements of Style" "Chicago Manual of Style" and heaps of others you'll see at the right side of the blog, I learned. My head hurt, yes. I taught school at the same time, yes. But I started to get some organization into my life.

Then came Legacy, then came Waterlilies Over My Grave.

They will continue tomorrow. After all, this is fourteen years of writing condensed into two little blog posts.

Tomorrow, I'll discuss my transition from pantzer to organizer.
By the way, a pantzer is a writer who writes. Doesn't generally do the outlines or character studies. Only problem with that is. . . .


Sandra McLeod Humphrey said...

Wow, are you prolific! I'm definitely an "organizer" but I'm not feeling too organized lately with all the social networking I'm trying to learn. So far I've found it very confusing and a bit overwhelming. I'm still trying to figure out Klout and I'm not sure that I've even figured out Twitter and FB all that well yet.
Great blog!

Patricia A. Guthrie said...

thank you Sandra. I agree about all the social networking. It's driving me crazy and zapping all my time. Not to mention trying to get to some book reviews I promised.

I'm glad you like my blog. I've made it eclectic and hope it attracts visitors. It seems it's getting hits, but few comments.
Thank goodness for you and a few others.

I try to comment on blogs, just because of what's happeneing to me. LOL