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Panster or Plotter?

A question for the ages.


I have always identified as half-and-half. I tend to plot my way into the middle of a book, skip that mess and go right to the end. Then I go back and pants my way through those dreaded chapters eight to thirteen.

One free giant pair of smalls.


Except when I don't.


For A Most Unusual Duke, I got straight into writing and managed to knock out a synopsis as I went along, which I thought was pretty darn smart of me. For A Wolf in Duke's Clothing, I had to back-track and write it up for a Sourcebooks in-house marketing meeting. Let me tell you, it was pretty painful.


If you are unfamiliar with the excruciating work of writing a synopsis, it is like the cover letter of novels, only worse. You have to convey the story beat by beat without making it too dramatic, but not too dry, either. It's like bullet points, only with verbs. There's no dialogue, there's no style, and as straightforward as that sounds, it is an unadulterated horror.


Unless... you write it before you start writing the novel. If you write it before you write the novel, you've got a road map, beat by beat, that provides a backbone just waiting to be fleshed out. Somehow, from mid-December of 2020 to the end of January of 2021, after I'd scribbled a variety of notes and did my Save The Cat worksheet, I sat down and started synopsizing A Duke at the Door.


You have to convey the story beat by beat without making it too dramatic, but not too dry, either. It's like bullet points, only with verbs. There's no dialogue, there's no style, and as straightforward as that sounds, it is unadulterated horror.”

I synopsized so well, I had the whole thing planned from start to finish.


I synopsized so well, my brain translated that into You've already basically written this thing!

Which I most definitely had not.


I synopsized so well, it took me ages to get into my flow. I panicked a little (a lot), got an extension of my deadline, got stuck in, panicked some more, and then —


And then because I had synopsized so well, I had my working draft in excellent time. Plenty of time for me to do the read-aloud draft, the big paper draft, and a hear-aloud using naturalreaders before submitting.


Whew.


And then... normal service resumed. Three weeks after I turned it in — my typical cool-down time — I wanted to read it again and tweak and fuss and polish. Which would do me no good as it was gone on its journey, out of my hands.


There was nothing for it then. Time to synopsize a couple more novels. Was this me, now? A full-time plotter, not a part-time pantser?!?


Only time will tell.

 

A Wolf in Duke's Clothing and A Most Unusual Duke, the first two instalments in The Shapeshifters of the Beau Monde series are published by Sourcebooks, available now from all good booksellers!



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