Thursday, November 17, 2011

Seeing Where the Road Leads

Today I have a guest.  Welcome, Catherine Gayle!

They say there are two types of writers out there: plotters and pantsers. If you’re new to these terms, a panters is one who writes “by the seat of their pants.”

I started out my writing life as a pantser. That didn’t last long. I finished two manuscripts that way, but spent two to three times as long revising and rewriting and revising again as I did writing in the first place. Doing it for two 100,000 word manuscripts was enough to convince me to try another path.

After that, I decided there had to be a better way. I researched plotting methods, tried several, and found what worked for me. At that point, I knew I’d never go back. After all, I could finish a manuscript without needing to spend months on end reworking it into something that made sense.

Yet a few months ago, I found myself picking up a new project and writing without a clue where it would take me. I tried to plot it, but it didn’t work. No matter what I did, nothing would come together until I started writing a scene and the characters dictated where it would go.

It worked. But that was just a novella. I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the reins like that again on something full length. But yesterday, I started writing something new again, and yet again, I have no clue where I’m headed. I guess I’ll have to wait and see where this road leads me.

The novella I did successfully write as a pantser recently is called An Unintended Journey. It’s part of the Regency Christmas Summons anthology, found in A Summons From the Castle.


What once was lost…

Abby Goddard’s life is going along just swimmingly, apart from the disappearance of her life’s love—Wesley Cavendish, a man well above her station. Just before Christmas, Grandmama dies after revealing the identity of Abby’s grandfather. The Duke of Danby, no less. Now the entire family will travel to Yorkshire to confront Danby, hoping to gain a dowry for Abby. But then Wesley reemerges, sparking a hope Abby thought long destroyed.

Now is found…

Shall the prodigal son’s sole inheritance be an unsightly gash? Wesley Cavendish aspires to the political realm, despite his father’s near-murderous opposition…not to mention his opposition to Abby Goddard. But since Father died, will the new Earl of Fordingham rescind Father’s disgraceful allegations? Fordingham thwarts Wesley at every turn, threatening marriage to a prominent Tory family—which precludes Abby—to put an end to Wesley’s Whig involvement…unless Wesley can find a loophole.


The thwarting of her exodus left Abby trembling again. She took two full breaths and briefly pressed her eyes closed to fight down her sorrow before turning again. This time, her eyes passed over the baron, then traveled to Lady Pritchard, and finally settled on their guests.

Her breath caught.

Mr. Daniel Pritchard, the baron’s eldest son and heir, had come home from his recent travels—but he wasn’t the man who left Abby with a tingling sensation in the pit of her stomach, and a knot the size of Mount Olympus in her throat, and her toes curling within her half-boots from the desperate need to run as fast as she could and not look back.

No, such a reaction could only be due to one man’s presence.

Mr. Wesley Cavendish, the Earl of Fordingham’s wayward brother, stood before the hearth, looking like an ancient Roman warrior ready to race his chariot through the Coliseum—only a warrior oddly stuffed into modern fashions, with his dark, slightly curling hair falling down over his cravat. His straight nose and black-as-midnight eyes were just as she’d always remembered them. He regarded her so intensely she felt as though she’d sprouted six scaly heads and started singing opera from each of them whilst in the nude.

Have you ever taken off on a path you swore you’d never again travel, and had it turn out okay? Every commenter who leaves an email address will be entered in the prize extravaganza outlined at, where you could win a Kindle or one of many other prizes.

Catherine Gayle


  1. Very nice post.

    I try not to say I'll never so something again, because then I usually end up doing it. That's how I ended up in the Army twice.

  2. I am the QUEEN of the unexpected detour! I couldn't walk a straight path if my life depended on it, lol. I get distracted very easily, also it sometimes leads me somewhere new and fun, so I try to just go with the flow. That being said -I thought I was a "panster" too, but I'm starting to realize my work gets done much more efficiently and with less re-writes if I at least plot if loosely. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  3. Oh, Ella, that's hilarious. I ended up managing movie theaters twice for the same reason.

    Olivia, I think it takes some trial and error to discover if we're plotters or pantsers...or "pantsters" if you use Erin Knightley's phrase. :)

  4. Great post, Catherine! I'm a pantser all the way. I've tried plotting...I really have. Index cards, storyboards, detailed outlines...none of them worked, so I stopped trying. I let my characters lead the way, and they've done a decent job of leading me so far. lol.

    And I LOVED your story in the anthology! I know everyone else will too :)

  5. Nice post! I always wonder how authors write their stories.

    I need order in my life and I like to plan it out and I get a bit er, annoyed if it doesn't always fall into place just right. But with two young boys I have had to learn to just go with the flow a bit more and for the most part, it seems to work out well :)

  6. Thanks, Jerrica! I still wonder how pantsers can do it, even though I've now done it. LOL.

    Lisa, thanks for dropping in. I bow down to all parents out there who like order, because having kids seems to remove all order from life! I don't know how y'all do it.

  7. Great post, Catherine. I started out plotting and now just go with the flow. I tend to act out the story in my head as I write, writing a first draft pretty quick. I add detail in layers during edits later and that helps me pick up dropped threads better or wonky descriptions. I think if I went back to plotting I'd be sick of the story before I reached the middle. Outside of the HEA, I like not knowing exactly what choices my characters are going to make until they are ready to make them.

  8. That's a great point, Heather. Even though I do plot, I'm often surprised by my characters and things they do, or the times that they choose to do them. It keeps things interesting. My plotting philosophy is that I need to have the bones down, the main points that they're going to go through, but leave a bit of room for them to breathe.

  9. I thought I was a diehard plotter but recently realized I still pants a lot of major scenes and plot points. And this was after I thought I'd never pants again!