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Five Benefits of Being a Seat-of-the-Pants Writer | #amwriting

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In my effort to relearn the joy of writing and regain my writing “mojo” in 2018, I’ve decided to embark on a quest to relearn how to be a seat-of-the-pants (SOTP) writer. So I sat down today and came up with a list of reasons why being a seat-of-the-pants writer can be beneficial for me as a romance writer.

1. I already know the ending I’m working toward.

      Because I’m writing romance, I already know what the structure of my story will be. Therefore, I don’t need a detailed outline or synopsis in order to know the ending that I’m trying to get my plot and characters to. They’re gonna end up together.

2. It allows for more spontaneity in character development.

      I do need to know at least the basics of my characters before I start writing—their names, their general backstory, what they look like, and so on. By not knowing too much about the story before I start writing, I can be more like a reader, discovering who the characters are as the plot evolves and develops around them. The characters react to the situation at hand in a way that’s extemporaneous, instead of planned ahead of time—which helps me learn even more about them than I would if I tried to plan out all of their traits, motivations, and reactions ahead of time.

3. It allows for more spontaneity in story development.

      There are some things I have to know before I start writing: where and when the story is set, who the main characters are, what the basic premise will be. But something that I learned in my years as a full-time published author is that being locked into writing to a pre-planned synopsis can be very constraining and stressful, especially when I get into the middle of a story and it doesn’t want to go where it was originally planned. Writing SOTP, if a story isn’t working, it’s a lot easier to make changes to the plot, the setting, the time frame, even the story structure.

4. I can always find something to write about (i.e., it reduces the risk of writer’s block).

      When I’m not locked into having to write certain scenes or follow a storyline or characters that aren’t working for me anymore, it’s a lot easier to find something to write about. Even if I know (or think I know) it’s something that won’t end up in the final draft. An exercise I used quite a lot in the past (especially with my contemporary stories) was to send one of the main characters to the grocery store; I would write about everything they put in their basket—and why—and then, usually by the time they get to the frozen-food section, they run into someone that actually pulls the character back into the story. And even if that doesn’t happen, I’ve still written—and gotten to know that character better.

5. I don’t have to pay attention to language, words, or phrasing.

      This is true for me in both my historicals and my contemporaries. If I’m having to make sure that everything hangs together and matches up with a preconceived outline/plan, I find myself worrying more about making sure that my writing is “clean” and that the dialogue is appropriate for each character in the way that I planned them in pre-development—because that’s the way I had to learn to do it when I was writing under contract. There wasn’t time to just write and clean it up later in a couple of rounds of rewrites, revision, and polishing. Most of the time I only had two or three months to get each manuscript written—while also working on two or three other books in various stages of production at the same time. Even though it’s been five or six years since I’ve written anything for publication, this became so ingrained in me that I feel like I still need to write that way—final-draft quality—whenever I sit down to write. And it’s paralyzing!

Are you a SOTP writer? In what ways is it beneficial to you?

  1. Tuesday, March 20, 2018 2:20 pm

    Hi Kaye! I enjoy your posts even though I rarely leave a comment, LOL. 🙂 I am a SOTP writer all the way, and love it! I’ve tried—really tried—being a plotter, and it’s just not me. Maybe someday. 😉 Earlier today I was writing to finish my second book (in my contracted series) and a scene began unfolding – – I never saw this particular scene coming, but I LOVED it!! That reminded me (again!) of why I love writing so much, and writing in this manner. I admire my writer friends who are plotters and have things all organized and planned ahead. While I do have some basic thoughts and a few scenes jotted down in my notes, the remainder of the story “appears” to me as I write. I guess that’s just the way my brain works!? Happy writing to you!! Blessings, Patti Jo

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  2. Tuesday, March 20, 2018 5:30 pm

    Ms. Dacus,
    I have no choice but to be a SOTP writer. I’ve had no formal training in writing. I am currently working on my fifth Romance Novel. I am a 76-year-old man, but I write from a woman’s POV. I’ve also taken one of the sub-characters from my third book and gave her a series of her own. That is a Mystery Series.
    I usually start with an idea for the start of a story and I know the couple will get together in the end. But, I don’t make it easy for them. Because I put so many roadblocks in their way, my books tend to be long, averaging 135,000 words. I know this makes it impossible to get my books published, so I’ve had to satisfy myself with Self Publishing.

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