Pantser, Plotter, Story Spotter
One of the first questions people think of when asking writers about their process is whether the author is a pantser or a plotter. In other words, do you write by the seat of your pants (a pantser) or follow outlines to plot out your novel (plotter)? This question was the first one I asked myself when I thought about seriously making writing a career.
When I started writing stories for fun in third grade, I was a pantser because, well, I don’t know any third-graders who are plotters. My pantser days lasted right up until after college when I would just write short stories, poems, and little scenes that would come into my mind. Nothing was planned and certainly not outlined. When I finally did start writing longer novels in my free time as an adult, I was definitely still a pantser, even though I’d never heard of the term.
I got to about page 30 on seven books, (five science fiction, one fantasy, and one children’s book), but it was more like 40 pages if you counted out of context excerpts of scenes I had yet to weave into the stories. I’m glad I did that. I wrote when I felt a powerful urge to question “what if” or when I let my imagination run wild and realized there’s a story there.
I still keep a journal by my bedside, purely for writing whatever my mind thinks up. I think being a panster is, for me, the purest form of writing because it takes the reigns off the imagination and lets it run free to chase stories and roll around in poetry. That freedom allows me to see stories everywhere in daily life. One case in point is how I began writing The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries.
The series started one rainy day when I was out shopping. As soon as the rain died down, I hurried to my car only to stop at a curious sight sitting by my car tire. There, amidst the pavement of the parking lot was a part of a branch, presumably from a tree that had been injured by the windy circumstances.
Typically, I, like every other person I know, would not have thought twice about a twig, except that this one was eerily reminiscent of a person. In reality, the warped wood was just a branched twig or might have even been two of them bundled together to trick the eye. I wouldn’t know, I didn’t actually pick it up.
To a writer always in search of a story, though, it was the universe using a stick to point me in the direction of a story. The sign couldn’t have been clearer if a raven perched itself on my windshield to harass me with a recitation of “nevermores.”
There was a story in this broken branch, and it was one about faeries. What other diminutive, yet humanlike creature could suddenly become a wooden figure? And what if the rainy weather hadn’t been a storm at all, but a faerie fight between pixies?
I had been on a cozy mystery kick for a while, enjoying the genre as a reader and wanting to write such a mystery since almost the very first cozy I’d read. I didn’t know at the time how this would fit into a cozy mystery, but I wrote the tree-branch inspired scene before any other book details emerged. Over the next few weeks, probably a month overall, my mystery-fueled mind mixed together a cozy series combining the fae and murder mysteries.
The pixie fight eventually became a scene in Chaos in the Countryside. While I did create an outline for both Chaos in the Countryside and Herbs and Homicide, I do allow myself to veer off of the outline if my imagination is leading me down a different path. This happens almost every time, and I hear similar things from other writers.
That’s probably why authors have identified a third kind writer: Plotsers. Plotsers do both, writing by the seat of their pants and planning at the same time. It’s my theory that all writers are plotsers, it’s just a matter of to what degree they plot or not.
Pantser, plotter, or plotser, I think the number one thing to be is a story-spotter. Stories are happening everywhere and everywhen. It’s up to the storytellers to find them.
Herbs and Homicide (The Faerie Apothecary Cozy Mystery)
by Astoria Wright
About the Book
Herbs and Homicide (The Faerie Apothecary Cozy Mystery)
1st in Series
Novelwright Mysteries (September 27, 2018)
Paperback: 217 pages
Looking for a unique paranormal cozy mystery series that’s lighthearted and fun?
Settle into the cozy countryside of Moss Hill, where house-elves rent rooms, sprites live in gardens, a leprechaun is the best tailor in town, and a half-elf/half human named Carissa Shea owns a pharmacy known as The Seelie Tree Apothecary shop. Life couldn’t be more idyllic for Cari, but healing humans and fae folk proves challenging at times, especially when secrets unfold in The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries.
About Book 1: Herbs and Homicide
In the small town of Moss Hill, customers of all kinds visit Carissa Shea’s Seelie Tree Apothecary Shop. That includes tall and short, young and old, human and faerie. Being half-elf/half-human herself, Carissa personally knows and cares for them all. So, when a grumpy brownie, a type of house faerie, named Miss Morgan dies in her shop, Carissa is devastated. As she learns more about her customer’s death, she realizes Miss Morgan might have been the only thing standing between the Seelie, faeries of light and goodness, and the Unseelie, faeries of darkness and evil. On top of it all, the Sidhe guard, protector of all fae residents, rule it a murder and name Carissa as a suspect! Now she must prove her innocence and find the real culprit before it’s too late – not just for her but for all of Moss Hill.
About the Author
Astoria Wright is the author of The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries, including the bestselling prequel novella Chaos in the Countryside. Intrigued by myths and inspired by cozy mystery writers before her, Astoria tries to combine two worlds with human and faerie neighbors trying to solve puzzling crimes on the fictional island of Moss Hill. She’s also a poet, which shows in the Moss Hill poetry anthology “written” by the characters in the series. Her goal is to bring Moss Hill to life in her stories, because who doesn’t wish we lived in a town with magical faeries as neighbors?
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