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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | A Pantster Plots

A Pantster Plots

Off Topic Picture: Gina prepares for Hurricane Sandy

First of all, I want to extend my thanks to all the people who congratulated me on my HarperCollins deal via the blog, Facebook, Twitter, and email. I feel honored to know so many supportive people who celebrated this opportunity with me!

If you’ve been around my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a pantster – or at the very most, a dot-to-dotter. I generally launch into the first chapter of a new book with little more than a premise, a vague picture in my mind of characters, and a few plot points I’m aiming for. By the time I finish the first draft, I’ve figured out what the story was supposed to be about. Then I revise to match what I’ve learned.
Not this time, though. My current task is plotting out a sequel to THE EIGHTH DAY and outlining a plot arc for the series.  I’m writing a synopsis – before I’ve even written a single word of the next book.
This isn’t the first time I’ve outlined a novel before writing it. I also outlined my Tesla-punk historical manuscript.  After trying twice to begin the novel and never making it past chapter five, I threw the outline away and let my MC lead the way. His story was so much more exciting than mine, LOL!
A couple years prior to that, I also outlined two sequels for a historical paranormal manuscript – and then stuck to the outlines right to the end and was happy with the results.  I think the difference was that they were sequels. I already knew my setting, my characters, and how those characters would react to their new adventure. I had the opportunity to explore their backstory, develop their personalities, and let them grow.
That’s what is saving me this time, too. A sequel is so much easier for me to plan all the way through than a book with new characters. That’s not saying there aren’t new characters in the sequel – and once I start writing, some of them may turn out to be a surprise or change the story in ways I didn’t expect.  I also know I’ve got a great team behind me at HarperCollins, and I feel like I can show them my outline and my synopsis and they’ll let me know if I’m taking the story to the right places, keeping the adventure high and the material fresh before I even start writing.
So, this leopard is working on changing her spots. But I don’t expect I’ll hang up my “pants” forever. I’ll probably need them the next time a completely new set of characters wants to use me to tell their story.
By the way, today is the last day to enter the Spooktacular Blog Hop for a chance to win a signed copy of WE HEAR THE DEAD, a signed ARC of THE CAGED GRAVES, or a Kindle ebook of TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES. See the Blog Hop post below. Winners will be announced on Friday. Happy Halloween!

13 Responses to A Pantster Plots

  1. Hey,

    Sorry I’m late to the ball, but oh my gosh, that is great news to hear you’ve got this awesome opportunity with those Harper people 🙂

    You give so much, and I am so happy to see you recieve a lot, too:)

    *Best of luck*

  2. Tonja says:

    I would think it would be hard to wing it on a sequel.

  3. Linda G. says:

    I’m curious to see how this whole plotter thing will go for you. Good luck! 🙂

  4. You know, that makes perfect sense about having an easier time when it comes to plotting the sequel. I spend a lot of time getting to know my characters before I outline a story, which is why I find it easy to be a plotter.

  5. I found writing a sequel to be easier, too. And since my NaNo project is a companion novel to my book coming out in June, I know already much of what happens because it’s been alluded to in the first book. I just have to figure out what to do with the other half of the book. I know he ending, but not the in between.

  6. farawayeyes says:

    Dot to dot, I like that term, sounds a lot like me.

    I have two stories complete in a trilogy. The first one stinks, the second is pretty good (at least in my opinion), can’t bring myself to crank out the last, until I can fix the first. What a mess!

    Awesome news about Haper-Collins!!!

  7. mshatch says:

    As you know plotting worked out pretty well for me with my last novel so I’ll probably keep doing it but having been a pantster I don’t think I’ll ever stick to my outlines 100%. What fun would that be? 🙂

  8. I’m so happy for you, Dianne!

    I don’t think I could do more than a vague paragraph of a first book. But when I tie threads on a manuscript and think it could be the beginning of a series, I am able to write something that resembles an outline.

  9. I’ll be curious to hear if you actually do change your spots permanently. I’ve been leaning more and more towards outlining, even if it’s only in broad brush strokes.

  10. Makes total sense!! Love the pic of Gina! 😀

  11. I could have sworn I’d already commented on this. What the heana meana?

  12. Julia Tomiak says:

    First, congratulations on your new deal! It’s always fun to hear the success stories- it keeps us hopefuls inspired!
    I’m very type A, but writing is creative, so I think a balance between plotting and “pants” works for me. My current WIP (from which I submitted page one)started as a pants project, with a very vague (ie 10 bullet points) outline. I’ve had to go back and do a lot of thinking, revising, and outlining. I’m hoping the next time, the process will flow faster!

  13. Robin says:

    One day, if I ever try a sequel, I might try plotting, just to see if I can do it. For me pantsing is finding my story and getting to know my characters. Excited to see how outlining works for you.

    Congrats again, and good luck with the dot to dots:)