There’s two kinds of writers. There’s what we call the “Plotter” and then there’s the “Pantser.”
I’d like to think I’m both, but a recent development in my second novel proves that I’m probably more a Pantser than a plotter.
So what’s the big difference between the two?
To take an analogy from real life, let’s say I want to drive from New York City to LA. If I apply this analogy to a Plotter, then I’d pull out the old road map, know the exact path I want to drive, and where every gas station and diner is along the way. I’d know where I’m staying overnight, and have a rough idea of where I should be at any given moment along the way. I’d probably also know exactly who’s on the trip, and who they encounter along the way.
Being a Pantser is a little different. I may have a road map, but it’s more a guideline for the trip. Along the way I’d be looking for filling stations instead of knowing exactly where they were. I might end up eating a lot of gas station hot dogs instead of a good meal at IHOP or Village Inn because I don’t know where they are. And I might be turned away at a lot of inns because they have no room. Also, the journey can be impacted by events, people, and things along the way which might take me in a whole different direction.
So it is with Dead Friends. In one chapter, one of the main characters catches a bullet in the back. She’s not killed, or even injured badly (her body armor stopped the bullet). But it opens a minefield of fear and dread for her, and everyone else is having to rally around her to help her recover from what happened.
Nowhere in my original draft did I have her taking a bullet. It just happened and suddenly we’re dealing with trauma that every person has to face when death brushes up against their life. It took the novel in a whole different direction, affording me the chance to tell a story that doesn’t get told very often.
I guess it will be interesting to see if we arrive at our destination on time, or we get there in a whole ‘nother novel. And if that happens, novel two will be looking at a different name.