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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guest Blog: Amber Kallyn: Walking the Straight and Narrow

There seems to be a general consensus that writers are either plotters (who outline) or pantsers (who just sit down and write where the words take them). Yet, from everyone I’ve talked to, I disagree. I think most writers are like me.


You wouldn’t believe how many types of outlining I’ve studied (and tried to use). From 100 page outlines of each scene including bits of action and dialogue, to scene cards, character interviews and biographies, plotting webs...

You name it and I’ve probably tried it.

It’s an interesting experiment, to say the least. And I can honestly say that by trying each one, it has made me a better writer.

Not because these ways to outline worked for me, but because each way I tried, I found a nugget of gold that did work. That I could take and incorporate into my own style of planning a book - novel or novella or short story.

I’m a hybrid: I outline to the point that I have a list of sequential scenes to include. Sometimes I’ll have a really good line or two of dialogue.

Then I sit down with a notebook, and for each chapter, I write a few bits, sometimes a whole sentence of what should happen. Then I play the what-if game and continue on writing chapters and ideas.

When I sit down to write, I have the list on paper, but the act of writing it has also made my subconscious nibble and expand on the original ideas I listed.

As I’m writing, each idea is expanded into an actual chapter, with characters and setting and everything.

Sometimes it feels like magic. (Of course, other times it’s like pulling teeth, but...)

And my skimpy outline isn’t set in stone - but rather a river I’m walking along and sometimes, something shiny catches my attention and I detour. Usually, I find my way back. Sometimes, I find a new, bigger river to follow, lol.

I’ve also finally realized my biggest stumbling block. I have to know the characters.

I’ve written a couple novels where the character didn’t flesh out in my mind until the end. Talk about rewrites. But it worked for me then.

The more I write, the more my style and process changes. I find now, I can only write the first few chapters and then I have to know who my characters are or they start wandering aimlessly, no matter I have my little road map.

My outline needs to ferment a bit before I start writing. You know, that subconscious nibbling thing? It has to have time.

That’s one of the ways I get to know my characters.

Q4U: Do you outline? If so, how?

One of those rare breeds, Amber Kallyn is an Arizona native who can trace her family's history through six generations in the state. She lives with her sexy husband, and their four very active children. Included in the menagerie are two cats (though there's always room for more) and two dogs. We won't count all the fish. She also writes urban fantasy under the name Higley Browne.

Love will Blaze when a nymph and a dragon must work together to stop a fiery catastrophe.

When someone comes after the rock band Brianna Jones works with, she must not only embrace the fire nymph within herself, but also the growing desire she feels for bounty hunter and dragon shifter Tyler Dragos. Together, they will try keeping not only the band members, but Bree safe from the dark mage hounding the Dragos Clan.


Claire Ashgrove said...

I am a plotter. I sit down and outline my book, chapter by chapter, for everything I write. If i don't, I write myself into immediate corners I can't get out of.

Molly Daniels said...

LOL:) I call myself a 'plantser', because I do both: sketch out a rough idea of the plot and certain issues. Then I start writing and see where my characters take me. The most bizarre 'wandering off track' moment was when all I had to do was get them together. They go for a walk, and suddenly, she's questioning HIS actions, b/c she knows he once had feelings for a mutual friend who was now single. To get them back on track, I had him stop, face her, and say, "If I had any designs on her, why would I be here with YOU?"...and one chapter and a lot of inner turmoil for the heroine, they finally DID get together. But at one point, I was screaming at their slow progress, ha ha:)

jean hart stewart said...

I'n with you, Amber, well mostly. I have the beginning and the ending firmly in mind, a a vague idea of what goes between. But sometimes the soggy middle gives me fits, and I have to really work on that before I get it right. Jean

desitheblonde said...

i just write in my head my english
teacher said i need to put them in
groups i love the book cover and titile

Amber Kallyn said...

Hi Claire
Plotting definitely has it's usefulness :)

Amber Kallyn said...

Hey Molly,

I love that, plantser :)

Amber Kallyn said...

Hello Jean.
Yeah, sometimes that middle sure can sag. It's a wonder we find our way through it, LOL

Amber Kallyn said...

Hi Desi :)
Thanks. This cover is so Hot! I adore it.

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