Susan Arden - Am I a panster or a plotter?
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One crucial question an author faces is always how to begin the process of writing a story. Is it going to be a ride that is carefully planned or one that is delivered by the seat of the pants? Sometimes, it’s a hybrid adventure—a mixture of the two.
Hybrid. That’s the type of writer I’ve evolved into lately, and I can’t actually tell why. Is there a better way of the three?
That all depends upon the writer and her need for structure. For me, I require a detailed synopsis. One that sets to rights the needs and conflicts of the characters. The story may begin with a seed, but in order to bear fruit, there must be a path in which to travel. In writing romance, the problem always centers on two people in love and a whopping dilemma of why they can’t hook up…just yet. But in truth that’s not the only problem. Characters must have arcs and actually there a few each is afforded. So during romance, with two main characters that equates to six major conflicting issues at the get go.
Once those conflicts are decided upon, generally I have a handle on the characters’ career, their internal barometers, volitions, drives, and desires. What they do and why becomes second nature to the writer. And with that information in hand, it’s easy to write from the seat of the pants. In essence, the writer can become the character or operate in character. I walk in their shoes.
So in order to write, an anchor of six problems is required to toss the writer hat up into the air and see where the wind takes it. Not too difficult to get the process started, but I must caution in order to write free flowing without hindrance, it takes a great deal of thought and investigation into the creation of organic “problems” that are logical.
An example would be a character who is driven to acquire wealth at any cost. That character knows no boundaries and may be ruthless. If he was homeless, hungry, and shamed as a child, then as an adult he would be hard-put to be empathetic to those he victimizes. In order for him to change over the course of the story, he would require some spark to transform himself and yet his nature would be a constant battle. If his love interests wanted him to give up his need for material goods, it would be a supreme test of wills, trust, and the ability to find something (love) to be a greater need/want than something so deep-seated such as the fear of being hungry/homeless again.
It wouldn’t be logical to have this type of character, be caring, forgiving, and willing to turn the other cheek at the beginning of the story or upon first meeting his love interest. This type of character arc requires careful planning in order to make certain that when he falls in love, there isn’t any honeymoon period in which eventually he’ll go back to his need to acquire cash. Therefore, the internal arc is intrinsically tied to the external arc which is woven into the relationship arc. Wash-rinse-repeat with the other main character.
So in writing the story as a hybrid panster-plotter, the threads of the stories that enable me to run are the deep-seated character arcs that guide and require me to understand my characters well enough to move them forward, knowing the choices they’d make because of their psychological make-up. It becomes easy then to know if they’d choose a beer or champagne to drink and why. Where high heels vs. cowboy boots. Decide to left or right. I write as a hybrid, with a road map and laptop, and for today, that’s the best way.
Tempted by Trouble out on Amazon
When a woman is the magnet for the wrong man, it takes a bad boy to break old habits.
Carolina Rodriguez is a large-animal veterinarian on a mission to escape South Florida. Willing to do just about anything, she accepts a job in Annona, Texas over the internet from a family connection. At her cousin’s wedding, she runs into—literally—a handsome Texas in the parking lot. Matt McLemore is more than gorgeous, he’s Carolina’s new boss, and needs her help to determine why his cattle keep dying.
Matt proposes to introduce Carolina to his family as his girlfriend, giving her the opportunity to work and stay at his ranch without arousing his family’s suspicion. Only when she learns she’s the last chance to help save his family’s cattle reputation (given his father’s refusal to listen to reason and modern genetic testing) does she agree to act the part of his girlfriend.
Matt’s instantaneous attraction to Carolina is an excruciating temptation but a roll in the hay may prove too volatile to handle. He attempts to keep a hands-off relationship until she arrives on his ranch and she is too hot to resist.
Carolina refuses to admit Matt’s raw sensuality is more than overpowering or that she’s the least bit tempted by a smooth talking bad boy. By the time the lab reports comes back, they’ve explored every inch of each other. All of a sudden, this fiery affair is more than just a fling. When a past flame threatens to overwhelm their newfound romance, Matt must find a way to stake his claim to Carolina’s heart before it’s too late.
Twice Tempted – Release on Amazon May 25, 2013
Love Tastes Better the Second Time Around
Rob Graham’s world is out-of-focus. One night too many spent photographing World Travel vacation hotspots and drinking himself into oblivion. Not far enough when Randall Cainwright twists Rob’s arm into photographing World Travel’s next VP, his daughter Cynthia “Sam” Cainwright.
Sam recently graduated college and agreed to follow in her father’s footsteps. In shoes designed for the son she’s not and in her father’s business world that holds no interest for her. One night is all she wants. Not a long time, just a good time.
With a flip of a coin, she wrangles Rob into taking her out on the town. Their adventure begins in her bedroom where Sam is too hot for Rob to resist. Cynthia’s heart nearly shriveled up and died when Rob walked out the door. Sure it was only one night, but she fell for him. Hard.
Four years later, Rob bumps into Sam, now Cynthia Cainwright, famous romance author. No longer drowning his sorrows, Rob found his footing photographing exotic landscapes off-the-beaten-path. Tempting fate twice, he stops by Cynthia’s table shocked to learn they have a young daughter together. Determined to be part of his child’s life, he refuses to take no for an answer.
Now, it’ll take two hard-headed lovers to come clean and admit their passion is sizzling, proving love tastes sweeter the second time.
Collared for a Night – Release July 22, 2013 Crimson Romance
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Writing as Susan D. Taylor: Ocean of Love, Mermaid Adult Fairy Tale and Secret Desire
Susan Arden is a third generation Floridian. She left the field of education in 2008 pursing her dream of writing romance fiction. Currently, she writes hot love stories within the romance genres of contemporary erotic, western, and fantasy/paranormal.Susan also writes under the name of Susan D. Taylor.
Susan currently lives in TN along with husband, two cattle dogs, two crazy cats, a gecko and a corn snake. A mother, RYT200 Yoga Alliance (registered yoga teacher), and avid gardener. You can find her on the mat when she's not writing her next hot romance novel.