Michelle Miles on: My Crazy #Writing Mind

Sometimes I don’t understand how my brain works. I’ve been writing seriously for, oh, ten years or so. I have nine published novels with one coming December 13 and one in-progress. Well, two in progress but the second one is my Secret Project.

Anyway, I used to say I was a Pantser. All the way. There was no in between. No gray area. No middle. I never plotted. I sat down to write and I didn’t know what was going to happen next until I wrote. That’s pretty much how I wrote my contemporary romances and my time travel series featuring Skye and Dane.

Then something changed. I’m not sure what. Or how. One day, I had a dream about a gladiatrix and her assassin lover. I knew that story from start to finish. I wrote a synopsis. I didn’t follow it exactly but it gave me a roadmap of where I was going. That book is now PHONEIX FIRE. It was fun to write but it was dark and gruesome.

It was a light bulb moment for me.

But I still couldn’t plot. I tried everything. Character sheets. Plot board. Plot blobs. Plot triangles. Note cards. Bah. Nothing worked.

I wrote a few more novels. They got published. Pretty much everything I’ve written and finished has been published except for my first novel and, uh, we won’t go there. *shudders*

I decided one day I wanted to write about a jousting tournament. That’s how I ended up writing ONE KNIGHT ONLY. It was pretty much an organic plot for me. Meaning, I “pantsed” most of it. Hey, it worked out. Why are you looking at me like that? But I’d laid the foundation for two more novels in that book and knew I had to write them. I had a really good grasp on my characters for book two, which turned into ONLY FOR A KNIGHT.

When I found myself unemployed, I’d decided to delve deeper into them. I wrote elaborate character sketches. And a sorta/kinda synopsis. Which I kinda/sorta didn’t follow. I told myself I was just a Pantser at heart and that my stories needed to develop “organically.” What a crock of shit that is. The fact is I’m lazy. I don’t want to spend hours figuring out the plot, I want to WRITE.

But I got stuck. A lot. And it was frustrating. More frustrating than plotting. I muscled through ONLY FOR A KNIGHT and managed to finish it. In fact, I got jiggy with it and wrote the end first. I know. Wild and crazy, huh? I was able to marry the first half and the last half without too much trouble.

But I still had that darn synopsis to write for the publisher. So I sat down and did a chapter by chapter outline. Wrote it. It ended up being 10 pages. The publisher only allows 800 words. WORDS, people. I revised and revised and got it down to the word count. But I saved the original just in case. Hey, you never know.

On to book three now, A KNIGHT TO REMEMBER. I knew who my lead characters were but I didn’t know anything about them. Not really. I tinkered around with a plausible blurb. I tried to make character sketches like the last book but it didn’t seem to be working. It frustrated me so I gave up. I just started writing the book.

I got stuck at 40,000 words in and knew it wasn’t working. I turned to my CPs for help. They brainstormed with me. I realized I had zero internal conflict for my two leads and I needed to figure that out. So I did that. And then I started thinking about where I went wrong in the story. I knew the last 20,000 words I’d written really belonged toward the end. But now I lacked a middle. Life sucks that way.

I spent a lot of time just thinking about the book. I call that “marinating”. It’s just hanging around up in that brain of mine waiting to be worked out. I realized the middle needed to build the sexual tension and the suspense of the threat on my lead character’s life.

So I got out my handy notepad and started making notes. I started with what I had and worked from there. It took me about an hour, but by the time I finished, my hand cramping, I’d had a scene outline of the entire book from start to finish.

Like, WOW!

Now we’ll see if I can follow it. That’s going to be the real trick.

The thing is I just sort of highlighted things I want to happen. And I leave the rest up to my “organically pantser” brain. So I still kinda/sorta plot but I still have the joy of making it up as I go. What does that make me, a Plantser? A Plotser? I don’t know.

The only I do know for certain is whatever I do, it will not be the same for the next book. Whatever that happens to be. God help me.


By Michelle

I wish you all could be inside my head. The conversation is sparkling.