From a Cabin in the Wood featured author is DT Krippene. DT is a contributing author in the recent BWG’s paranormal anthology, Untethered. A man buys a house for a price that is too good to be true, until he discovers the bizarre strings attached in “Hell of a Deal”. He’s also contributed articles for the Bethlehem Round Table Magazine with “Snowbelt Sanctuary”, and “In Simple Terms”.
A native of Wisconsin and Connecticut, DT deserted aspirations of being a biologist to live the corporate dream and raise a family. After six homes, a ten-year stint in Asia, and an imagination that never slept, his annoying muse refuses to be hobbled as a mere dream. DT writes dystopia, paranormal, and science fiction. His current project is about a young man struggling to understand why he was born in a time when humans are unable to procreate and knocking on extinction’s door.
If you’re a writer, you’ll recognize the term pantser, defined as writing by the seat of your pants, or someone who writes without an outline, without plotting, and without a clue. Smart writers are plotters. I’m a hardcore pantser, which suggests I’m not very smart. It’s that irking process of plotting chapters that eludes me.
Have you ever tried to organize one those squirrel folks who is easily diverted by the slightest interruption? Yeah, I’m one of those. Hell, I can’t fart and not get sidelined.
Trust me, I’ve tried to plot. I possess a veritable library of files for the books I write. Even downloaded one of those cheat-sheets to systemize the chaotic asylum of my story-writing brain. So, what the heck is my problem? I’m a meticulous note-taker by habit, but that voluminous archive is a realm I rarely ever revisit. I often forget I made notes. Too busy writing.
We have a real nice office on the first floor, with great views of the garden. I let my wife use it. Last thing I need is to settle into a hypnotic stare at house wrens warbling for a mate. I can ponder a barren tree in winter for no reason at all. Why? Because it’s there. My office is in a windowless basement room painted grade school green; just me and the radon (I didn’t choose the color).
And music? Forget it. Writers love to share what music feeds the muse when writing. Stephen King claimed in his early years, he wrote best when listening to ear-blistering rock tunes. I’d never been one of those kids who did homework with an album playing and the TV on. Who can concentrate with all that racket? Don’t get me started on the internet, and that infernal necessity for all budding authors, Social Media.
Many of my author buddies advocate programs like Scrivener. I gave it a shot and found myself managing the program rather than actual writing. Ever see the movie A Beautiful Mind, and the scene where concerned friends stumbled upon a place wallpapered with Dr. John Nash’s schizophrenic notes? I don’t claim to have a beautiful mind, but my desk looks a lot like that setting.
Write a synopsis first, experts say. Been there, done that. I’ve spent hours, days, crafting the perfect outline for a story. For ease of reference, let’s say the original premise was to create a bird. By the time I finish–behold–I have a monkey.
For me, I have it all in my head, and what a meandering gauntlet it is. I always know how a story starts and how it ends. Tying the two together is where the real work is. Think of it like planting a tree many miles away, then planning the shortest distance between two points to get home. I’m a curious Bill Nye trapped in the Mad Hatter’s head. I don’t take the simplest route. It’s like taking a trip to visit relatives in Philadelphia–via Canada.
When I begin a new scene, I read the previous chapters to get in the groove, jot-down a few notes, then start ‘dem engines. Four to six hours later, I’ve got a mishmash of narrative, dialogue, and action that bears no resemblance to the original idea.
How did the train end up at a different station? I fall deep into a scene, fully embody the character, and speak aloud the dialogue. You talkin’ to me? I go one way, maybe say “Nah”, do a heel-spin and meander in an alternate direction. I experiment and sift through what fits best. Next day, I re-read the new material, and either modify it, or toss it completely. I swear, some days, I read the result of a prior session and wonder if I’d forgotten to take my meds before I wrote it. Believe me when I say that I can write 10K words, and trash seven. It’s not very productive. My process is like rinsing chia seeds in a colander and losing half the seeds.
It’s not like I can’t reach the goal line. I work at it like a job and write almost every day. I’ve finished several books. Believe it or not, I completed one in less than six months (boy, did that one suck). Good thing I don’t get job reviews.
What I needed was an intervention. It came in the most unexpected way.
My wife visiting relatives, the house to myself, I took a yellow pad, handwrote chapter bullet points of what I’d already created. Then I entangled the knotted string of scenes (actually, it was more like taking a scissors to it). Suddenly, it made sense.
How could such a simple exercise work when it hadn’t before? When handwriting, I grip the pen with the force of a hydraulic car crusher, and Sumerian cuneiform is easier to read than my handwriting. Therefore, I type everything to prevent creating blisters. I have the ability to type as fast as I think, generating all my notes and storyboards on the word processor. The V8 clue–type as fast as I think, where all I’m doing is transcribing the spaghetti grid of my creative mind that has worse synaptic traffic than Atlanta’s notorious Tom Moreland Interchange.
Writing legibly switched off the lottery ball spin of disordered thoughts. It wasn’t easy at first. The creative muse was halfway to Alaska on the first page and I had to yank it back to the here and now.
Bullet points–slow–maybe an occasional note in the margins, decelerated brainwaves to a lower frequency and presented a visual handwritten storyboard. It revealed stray tangents which act like background noise. Tuning out useless plot chatter, a path forward magically appeared.
Lesson learned? It took a physical blackboard to see the flaws by forcing my thoughts to slow down.
The story I’m now writing has a clear horizon ahead. The muse may still want to go by way of Sweden, but it’s up to me to revoke the passport and keep its feet firmly on the ground where it belongs.
Author’s Note: If you wish to visually experience what it’s like to be an easily distracted pantser, check out the article: The Perils of Captain Tangent, a Pantser’s Writing Journey with Pictures.
I apologize for the repost. I recently returned from vacation and I’m still playing catch up. However this repost, fits in with my vacation. I was in Paris for 12 days…3 days for business and the balance was vacation.
I love Paris…I thought I would say that.
Anyway, Paris has been a secondary character in some of my books. The series this blog post is about, THE GOOD GIRL Part Deux, spent some time in Paris. On my most recent trip, I tried walking around the city and seeing it in the eyes of my heroine Gabriella. I took some time to make mental notes for the third book in the series. I had hoped to have the book written so when I went I could verify things or make changes. That didn’t happen because I was busy finishing a different book.
My family and I had the pleasure of having French High Tea at the Paris Ritz. French High Tea is completely different from English High Tea. Gotta say, I like the French way better. Back to my story. We arrived early and were given a mini tour then left to explore the hotel on our own. We stopped in a jewelry store and of course I tried on some things. But the staff reminded me of some things I’d forgotten. One, Coco Chanel died at the Paris Ritz. I’m a fashion girl so that resonated with me, big time. Plus we were just a few streets away from the original Chanel Store and Coco’s home. I was in fashion girl heaven. Second, the Ritz is where Princess Diana and Dodi Fayeed were right before they…
I told the staff I was a writer and I was doing a little research for an upcoming book. They was very helpful and offered to give me advice on jewelry and share some of the amazing love stories that had taken place at the hotel. That got me thinking about a new direction for the next installment of THE GOOD GIRL.
All that to say, this is why I chose to replay this post. I’m mentally getting prepared to start THE GOOD GIRL Part Trois.
Have a great summer and see you next month.
I have come to a crossroads with a set of characters and I can’t believe the angst I’m feeling or maybe it’s heart-break?
me explain.This past summer, I had the privilege of being in my first box set. YEAH! My contribution to the Fling box set was The Good Girl novella. I wrote this book knowing there would be more to the story. However, I didn’t expect to become as attached to the characters as I am. That fondness is supposed to be reserved for my characters in The Alex Chronicles. After all, we’ve been together for years—that’s not an exaggeration. [Read my previous posts for details on that series. And for the record, The Alex Chronicles is still my baby.]
Gabriella and Phillippe, my heroine and protagonist from The Good Girl, are infants compared to Alexandra [Alex] and Moses, the stars of The Alex Chronicles series. Alex and Moses and I have been through a lot. That’s not an exaggeration. I wrote three books, well four if you count the prequel that can testify to the longevity of our relationship.When it came time to cause havoc between Alex and Moses, I had no problem doing it—yes, I cried inside when he—okay, I can’t tell you anymore because it might spoil it for you. But it was a difficult breakup. However, the possibility of Gabriella and Phillippe breaking up, is causing me great consternation and I don’t know why.
The difference in this proposed breakup might have something to do with the fact that I don’t know what will happen next. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a pantser. Maybe if I was a plotter, I’d feel different. In that respect, I’m like my readers, excited about the surprise outcome, sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next. Wondering if a HEA will exist for these two. If or when you read part two, a HEA seems inevitable. I think a breakup would be a shock to some readers and a given to others. Either way. I need a major shake up, otherwise the series will become a two hit wonder.
To prepare myself for the inevitable, I’ve started a new playlist complete with sad love songs. I’ve got some wine and popcorn, even reading books with devastating, heartbroken heroines, to get me in the right frame of mind. So far, I just can’t bring myself to break Gabriella and Phillippe up. I could write the breakup, but what if they don’t find their way back to each other. Yes, it would open the door to another book or would it? Another strike against being a pantser—know it all characters. It’s all Gabriella and Phillippe’s fault. Why can’t they be like Alex and Moses. Those two made it perfectly clear how their relationship was going to play out from the moment they met.
I’ve trusted Gabriella and Phillippe through two books. I have to admit, I was surprised at the story they told in Part Two. Trust is the key word here. I have to trust my ability to tell a story that will engage my readers, yet not be boring or predictable. Talk about a challenge. Like Carrie Underwood said, “Jesus take the wheel.”
In my quest to over think, I came up with a few reasons why they would breakup.
Have Phillippe realize he really can’t deal with a non sexual relationship. Which makes him look like the typical self-absorbed Alpha Billionaire in training with a slight French accent.
Then there’s the shocker that she doesn’t want to get married and she just considers this a great first love. Sounds good, but makes her look like a gold-digging whore, I mean tramp.
Or, I could go with the classic, she loses her virginity to him, gets pregnant and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with her or the baby. This would paint her as a naive single mother, with an uncertain future and a whole lot of anger.
Last but not least, a dreaded family secret preventing him from continuing the relationship. Problem with that one is it makes him look a little weak and that goes against the image I’ve created of him.
I would love to see a HEA, but these characters may not. Unlike Alex and Moses, I broke them up a couple of times. Oh crap! I wasn’t supposed to tell you that, but I didn’t tell you how their story plays out. I’ll just say this, I have a playlist loaded with sad love songs.
I also don’t think this angst would be such a big deal if the book hadn’t been as successful as it has. I’ll rephrase that. I hoped it would do well, but this is a surprise blessing. Yes, I called my book that’s packed with a few steamy innuendos and a blessing.
About a month before the free promotion, while it was still at regular price, it got to #167 without any promotion. When I did my first KDP Five Free Days, it made it all the way to #2 in one of my categories on Amazon. I stopped trying to figure out why it’s being received so well. And to be honest, I don’t care. I’m just grateful and thankful to God that it is doing well. This little book, is a great gateway to my other books.
Back to my problem, how to deal with my broken heart. Sunday or maybe it was late Saturday night. Anyway, I really started feeling a sense of loss towards this book. Sunday I picked up The Good Girl Part Two and started on the revisions and the more I read, the clearer it became that I needed to do something drastic. I kicked around ideas, all of which caused me more grief than relief. It was well around one in the morning when I gave up fighting, prayed and went to sleep.
Later, when I woke up, during my prayer time, I got a revelation for a possible plot idea. I’m not going to share it, in case those two bossy characters decide they want to go in another direction. I will say this, it will be emotionally painful to write, however, I think it’s going to lead to the perfect next step.
Funny thing, long before the dread of the breakup popped up, another scene began to bounce around my head, and it’s good. At least I think it is. Only problem, once I write it, I think that’s when the real heart-break will come, because it will be the end of Gabriella and Phillippe’s story as I see it. As writers you know a series never really ends, it just gives birth to a another baby.
So I have a few questions for you. How do you handle the breakup of your characters? Do you find it difficult to breakup your characters perfect relationship? Is the road to HEA easy or painful for you?
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