What’s between Plotting & Pantsing?

I’ve spent the better part of my summer at the drawing board, outlining my new book before I write anything more of it.  For those of you who’ve been around here a while, you might have seen my laments after writing my first novel without a plan and the subsequent rewrites and new drafts to fix all the plot issues and newbie writer faux pas. To be sure, mistakes were made.


It turns out that I can’t just start outlining from the get go. I don’t have it in me. Seems I need to write a few chapters and get a feel for the story. With this new seekrit book, I wrote four chapters before deciding I needed to stop and get the outline worked up through to the end of the book.

What do you call a hybrid panster and plotter? A planster? A plotser? A pantsplotter?  Doesn’t matter really because the important thing is that I now have a plan. And it looks like this:


The Outline of New Seekrit Book

I thought it was interesting when I finally got it figured out and looked back on my process. It wasn’t like I sat down with my pile of multi-colored post-it notes and my favorite black-ink pen and this outline popped out. No, way.

Outlines need drafts, too.

It took me two months of dwelling and pondering and sketching and doodling and writing step sheets and annoying my friends with what-ifs over lunch, at the pool, via text… (thanks for your patience, guys!) Basically the whole of summer break was spent ruminating over the story before I could get it figured out to my satisfaction.

There are so many ways to write a book. And none of them are “the right way”. There are also many paths to finding your story, with the same caveat that there is no “right way”. I’ve learned that it’s important to try different things until eventually something clicks for you. I’m really glad I did!

How do you get to the bottom of your story?


I couldn’t resist sharing a pic of the latest of my crops. To date we’ve had a couple of tomatoes, (OMG the bruschetta was To. Die. For.) ninety zillion pounds of zucchini, and these beauties:


I called my friend to lament the zucchini situation the other day. Seriously, who knew that one plant could feed the whole state of Colorado? I wish I had known that when I planted two. And then, when I accepted a plant from a friend that she “was pretty sure was pumpkin but might be something else.”

I now have five prolific zucchini plants, and so far have given away six loaves of bread, stored four more in my freezer, am testing a chocolate zucchini cake on the family, and have to figure out what to do with these:


My friend chuckled a knowing zucchini laugh. She joked that where she’s from in Wisconsin, they have a saying that you should never leave your windows open in your car when you park it or your when you return, your back seat will be full of zucchini. You’ve been warned.

I Just Read: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I Just Read: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

As school is about to start again in my neck of the woods, and bring with it all the hectic of managing the schedules, classwork, and homework of my four, I decided this weekend would be for reading.

I plucked The Ocean at the End of the Lane from my stack and curled up, not sure what to expect–but hoping to be drawn in–if my experience with Gaiman coupled with the jacket blurbs were any indication.

I wasn’t misled.

How to describe the experience of reading this little book? As usual, Gaiman’s ability to build a world around you word by word is a gift. But this isn’t like other stories.

I found The Ocean at the End of the Lane to be enchanting in its creepiness. Real in that I was right there, next to the boy through it all, the other party in the story. Petrified and frozen, and running, and worried and waiting.

I saw it all. And it was scary.

Scary to the depth of my core in the way that a fairy tale can be when you hear it as an adult and realize it should have never been told to a young child.

At times, I wanted to peel the page forward for a tiny peek. To make sure that everything worked out for the poor boy, and for Lettie, and the women at the Hempstock farm. To make sure the horrors would be relegated back to figments… because they were imagined, right?

Don’t pick up this book unless you have a few hours to disappear through the wormhole.  But if you do, by all means… let me know how you feel when you get back. I’m still trying to shake it off.

Purchase, read reviews and watch a video… here.