Form or Fire


I currently have two works in progress. The first is When Demons Cry and the second is the zombie YA book.

They’re both completely different books in just about every way imaginable. The biggest difference is in how I’m writing the two of them and how they “feel” in my head.

WDC is very amorphous and up in the air in regards to what happens. It’s very much a “by the seat of my pants” book. (Just like Where Demons Fear to Tread was.) But I know the characters inside and out. Alex, Vic, and Ryuu are very real and fleshed out to me and they have been since I set them down on paper. The fire and the passion of the book are there, but I don’t have the form yet. Oh, I know what the story’s about, I just don’t know the details.

Zombies! is the opposite. I have the form down. I know what happens throughout the whole book (for the important parts at least). I even wrote an outline for it! But I don’t feel quite as connected to the characters. I still don’t know yet how the characters will react to certain situations. I don’t know their inner personalities, only what they show me on the page.

Both novels have their challenges, but I don’t think I prefer one over the other.

How do you write? Are you a pantser? A meticulous outliner? Or does it vary between projects?


9 responses »

  1. Panster! I’ve never been able to outline very well, and that’s with all my books. The characters jump out and say ‘hey! Over here! Follow me!’ and I follow. I have the main plot in my head; I know what needs to happen to get to the end, but HOW it happens is normally unknown to me until I get to that moment.

  2. It depends on the book. I prefer to work with a loose outline that still allows for detours. It’s interesting b/c I feel the same way about Darklight — I don’t really know these people yet. It’s being revealed to me a little bit at a time as I write (I’m 6k in).

    I almost always know the endpoint — or at least, my perception of it so I can work toward it, but it seems to change once I get there.


    • *laughs* I wish I could have the luxury of knowing the endpoint a little further out. But I actually think it may be a blessing. If I know the endpoint, I might lose interest because I already know how the story ends.

  3. Newbie here,

    Truth be told it really depends on what the story tells me. My current WIP started out as an outline, I wanted to have all my bases covered being that it’s such a complex story set in a fantasy world. The day my mother went into the hospital and I sat endless hours by her bed threw the outline out the window and things just bubbled into my head that I had to get down immediately.

    For the next two weeks the story led me in directions I had no intention or idea of taking it. The long nights of solitude and passing nurses by the door taught me that my writing process is so much more fluent and original when I just let it happen. From then on it progressed to the seat of my pants work that I just went with. I wrote a 100k novel with cheap gel pens and six 200 page notebooks in the span of a month.

    I’ve always considered myself organized and very meticulous before I start something, but since that day almost three years passed, I’ve learned that i work better going with the flow and letting the story write itself and the characters teach ME who they are and what they would or wouldn’t do.

    Now 100k deep in revision I’ve planted a lot of structure into my WIP but I can’t forget it all started at my lowest point with a story that demanded I just put my pen to the page and write.


    • Hi Brandy and welcome!

      Wow! That sounds like an intense time for you. I’ve learned over the last few years that sometimes the best way to get the writing done is to just let the characters write themselves. It saves me a lot of hassle now that I don’t have to go back and fix things that I wanted done *my* way.

      Good luck with the revisions.

  4. I’m a fogwalker. (Because, you know. Pantser sounds like the bully on the playground who pulls the other kids’ knickers to their knees.)

    I get the characters, get the basic premise, and get a sense of the vibe. Then I just go, and try to stay out of my own way as much as possible. 🙂

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