Our guest blogger, Roni Loren, wrote her first romance novel at age 15 when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts. Yeah, that’s it. She is the National Bestselling Author of The Loving on the Edge series from Berkley Heat. Visit her website, www.roniloren.com
We writers tend to be very superstitious about our Process. Yes, a capital P because the Process requires respect and reverence. We aren’t supposed to question it or poke it. If we do (we’ve all heard the horror stories), that fickle muse may go catatonic on us and we’ll never be able to write another word. Right?
There’s enough of those Process rumors floating around to scare even the bravest of writers. I know I bought into it. I started this journey as a total pantser. I’d get an idea for a story, flesh out the character backstories and my set-up, then I was off to the races. In fact, I wrote my debut romance Crash Into You that way.
I always chuckle when someone reads my book and says–wow, I was totally surprised by who the villain turned out to be. The reason it’s so well hidden is because I didn’t know who the villain was until halfway through writing the book, lol. And that novel landed me an agent and a book deal, so I must have been doing something right you would think. So I shouldn’t mess with my Process, right?
Well, fast forward to me writing book two in my series and getting completely and totally stuck. Suddenly, I was writing under a deadline and felt this pressure to make this one even better than the first. I didn’t know where I wanted to go with the book. The thought of outlining and messing with my Process gave me heart palpitations. In fact, I still get a little panicky when I see other writers’ 20-page detailed outlines. That will probably never be me. (I say probably because I’ve learned not to say never anymore.)
But because I was so stuck, I started sifting through all my writing craft books. (I have a bit of an addiction.) The ones on outlining and structure didn’t resonate with me. I couldn’t wrap my brain around fleshing out each chapter or scene before I write a book. That would suck all the fun out of writing it for me.
But around this same time as this wicked writer’s block I went to a Romance Writers of America workshop about using screenwriting techniques for novel writing. The class inspired me, and I went out and bought Save the Cat! Well, when I got to the chapter about the beats, it was like an angels singing, clouds parting moment. THIS made sense to me. My pantser brain could work with these broad strokes.
I used the beat sheet to plot that second novel and haven’t looked back. I’m now working on the fourth book in my series, and my Process has changed a lot from that first book. I don’t start anything until I have my beat sheet done. It’s what I use to put together my synopsis for my editor.
When I first started writing, I would’ve fainted at the idea of having to write a synopsis BEFORE I wrote the book. But now I actually enjoy writing synopses. (Please don’t throw things at me.) I haven’t graduated to the index cards and the board on my wall, but you never know.
So, don’t put your Process in a glass case to be revered and preserved. Always challenge yourself to try new methods even if you think–oh, that would never work for me. You never know when you might come across a technique that completely speaks to you.
So thank you Blake Snyder and Save the Cat!, you saved me.
Anyone else ever afraid to mess with their writing process? Has your process changed over time? Any angels-singing moments for you?