The new year started with a bang! Aside from the hurly-burly of promoting Dancing Queen and preparing my workshop presentations for the Readers & Writers Down Under Conference in March, I began plotting Dance to a Gypsy Beat, Dance of Love, Book Three.
Whenever I begin a new project, I also take the time to get to know my location and characters inside out, so when I write I can just be in the zone. For example in Tiny Dancer, Dance of Love, Book Two – due for release 1 March 2016 – my heroine, Samantha O’Brien is a dancer at the Moulin Rogue.
Having seen the shows there I had an intimate knowledge of the showroom and as a dancer myself, I interviewed some ex-dancers from the Rogue who could give me specifics I needed for backstage. I collected images of dancers which reminded me of Samantha and as I had a real life muse – a young dancer I’ve watched grow up and who is now dancing up a storm in the UK – I began to construct my story folder. I chose and documented Samantha’s birth dates, numbers, numerology, flaws, virtues, fears and motivators. Her family, friends, past and distant past histories, life events, nicknames and a myriad of other facts and figures. These all went into the melting pot of inspiration and from an embryonic idea of who she was, Samantha O’Brien was born as a living, breathing human being.
I do this in-depth process for all my major characters and in a lesser degree for my secondary characters. Then I plan my Timeline for the story. In Tiny Dancer, critical events happened around the full moon, so my facts had to be correct for the moon’s cycles in the northern hemisphere in 2015. A timeline keeps me on track and ensures the action is happening when and where it should. Finally, I begin adding to my Plotting and Pacing worksheet which gives me the turning points and roughs out significant scenes for the beginning, middle and end of the story. Then I’m away!
The amount of time I spend plotting, mulling over possible scenes and becoming intimately engaged with my characters, provides me with the freedom to write head-long into the story. It is at these times, the pantsing or intuitive writing takes over and subtle or wildly surprising changes may occur, which I follow to new twists and turns. Some days I churned out over 3500 words without an effort.
For me, plotting and pantsing go hand-in-hand in the writing process. Neither one is better than the other. Though I’ve found, like a good bottle of red wine and a superb cheese, together they enhance the dining experience.
What type of preparation do you do for major projects in your work or life?
Insight… Prior preparation prevents piss poor performance