Posts Tagged ‘definitions’

Plotter Plus Pantser Equals…

In the writing community, people loosely identify as either a plotter or a pantser (sometimes spelled pantzer). Some people plot out an entire book before they write it, and others fly by the seat of their pants.

Here is what I said recently on a writer’s board:

I was going to stand up and be counted with the pantsers, but I realized it’s probably not entirely true. At the bottom of my working document is a couple paragraphs of “and then this happens.” Not really paragraphs, almost bullet points.(For example, the WIP – paranormal erotic romance, and I’m 6K words in – the plan currently says “Reunion sex. Next day road trip (his car). Estate sale. Dirty, ask discount. Saleslady strange – young/old. Looks through M., then agrees.”)

I don’t always stick to it – sometimes things happen to the characters while I write, and entire subplots bloom or die. I change the “and then this happens section” whenever the story changes. After I write a scene, I delete the item from the plan. So when I finish writing the reunion sex, I’ll erase that line and start writing the road trip… unless the heroine pulls a muscle during the reunion sex and decides to surf eBay instead of being active. 😉 Then I’ll change the plan to read “eBay. Looks dirty. Asks discount. Seller has same name as M’s great great grandmother.”

Doing it that way means I almost never get writer’s block. I always have a plan for what’s going to happen next, and even if the writing is pure torture and I end up trashing it later, *something* gets on the page.

One of these days I’m going to copy the original two or three paragraph blurb just to see how drastically it changes from concept to completion 😛

As usual, the cherry on top came from another writer, a person I only know as “Tiff.” She suggested people like us be known as… plotzers.

My Jewish grandmother would have laughed. I sure did. Other writers rock!


Man Up, Sacky.

April 28, 2010 2 comments

I love Dan Savage. I could go on about how he’s the only advice columnist anyone can trust, and I could babble on about how much I love his books, or I could just give you the latest reason for my affection:

You are a huge pussy, CTOAC—excuse me, sorry. Pussies are powerful; they can take pummeling and spit out a brand-new human being. What you are, CTOAC, is weak, vulnerable, and far too sensitive for your own good.

What you are is a ball sack.

I don’t think people realize the cumulative effects of having your body parts used as an insult. It’s like water on sandstone – eventually, there’s going to be a big empty space any passing animal can pee into. If you want to suggest someone is wimpy, worthless, or somehow lesser, call them something that boils down to “a girl.” A “dick” is someone who is a jerk, who takes what he wants regardless of how other people feel, who makes himself happy. Someone with power, and even when you’re insulting him with this pathetic and flaccid excuse for a pejorative, you’re still acknowledging his power. (Tellingly, “flaccid” is a much stronger insult in the context of our language and society.) But a “pussy” isn’t worth any respect at all. And when we use the words of the dominant culture to express our own frustrations, we’re declaring our support for that dominant culture without regard to the costs to ourselves.

Words matter. Don’t use them casually.

Sonnets, Golden Age Science Fiction, and Category Romance

April 19, 2010 3 comments

Because it seemed like a nice day for tilting at a windmill, I posted in a message board discussion where one of the participants was slagging category romance. (If you’re not a romance reader, a category book is one of the very short books found in grocery stores as well as bookstores, with a cover that highlights the brand, not the title or the author. They come in categories – suspense, average girl heroines, rich man heroes, etc. Most category romances are published by Harlequin, so some people just call them “Harlequins,” even though Harlequin publishes tons of other stuff.)

Here’s what I said: “I liken category fiction to sonnet writing. A strict form (so strict that deviating from that form literally makes the result not a sonnet/category book), but total freedom to say anything within the form.

“*Most* books have the same plot, conflict, and resolution.”

I have tried to write category, and I have failed. Flat on my face, failed. I can’t work in all the requisite elements with enough development of any of them to satisfy a reasonably bright housepet, let alone a reader who consumes dozens of these things a month and won’t buy me a second time if the first one is crap. Anyone who has said, garsh, I’m gonna write me one of them Harlequins and make a million dollars has not actually tried to do it.

I don’t write them, so why defend them? The answer is that I adore golden age science fiction. Many of the arguments used to mock and belittle category romance were used against my favorite stories, with an extra vengeful little twist of misogyny. Me, I see a parallel.

Categories: Thinking Tags: ,

But What Do I Call It?

January 18, 2010 1 comment

Continued from “What I Write”:

When people ask what sort of writing I’m doing, I don’t know what to say. With close friends, I joke that I’m writing porn. Well, I’m not joking, exactly. But I’ve always been the sort of person to minimize things that are important to me.

And no one knows better than a writer about the ways that word choice can diminish one’s choices. Calling it porn makes it come over… cheap. There’s a tawdriness to the word, a sticky, unwashed sound.

The society I live in has a two-sided approach to smut. We love it so much that we produce scads of it. Go ahead, google “free web cams” with SafeSearch off. You get dozens of girls willing to do pretty much anything. live, and for free. Look for free sex stories, and if you started now and ended on the Judgment Day that’s supposed to wash the internet clean, you wouldn’t be past the stories starting with “B.”

On the other hands, there’s such a taboo associated with producing the stuff and asking for money that standing up and saying “Yes, I write explicit sexual content, and I’m trying to do it professionally” is a political statement. And like all overt political statements that go against the mainstream, it’s one that could cost me my day job if I made it too loudly.

After all, selling sex is whoring, right? And whoring is… well, wait. Why is it bad? Seems like most of the ills associated with whoring have to do with it being illegal, not the actual act of providing a service for money.

At any rate, I’m not writing porn. I’m not writing smut. I’m definitely not a sex worker, even if I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically wrong with that.

I am writing erotic fiction, and I define that as stories where sexual content drives the story forward. I am proud of my work, and I hope to make money with those stories in order to broaden an already successful writing career.

And, um, I write just enough science fiction on the weekends to claim that genre at the office picnic.