Thursday, September 4, 2014
My name is Betsy St. Amant . . . deep breath . . . and I am a… plotter.
That’s right, I confess. I’ll admit it! I’m a plotter.
There’s two types of authors, if you weren’t already aware of this crucial concept to the writing industry. Plotters and pansters. The plotters are those who, well, plot their story in full before writing it. And the pansters are those who fly by the seat of their pants and wing it all the way through.
See, I’ve always secretly wanted to be a panster, but it was simply not meant to be for this Type A, slightly OCD girl. Sometimes I stand back at writers conferences, listening to other authors teach or just talk amongst themselves of how they have no idea what will happen next in their work-in-progress, and wow, how exciting is that? Anything could happen! The sky was the limit. They could fly!
While I stand nearby, clutching my three-to-five page, neatly typed, double-spaced synopsis. (And for the record, no, it’s not pink and scented like Elle Woods’ resume on Legally Blonde, but I have thoroughly considered the idea.)
Oh, I’ve tried to be a panster, trust me. I’ve tried to embrace that freedom and soar! But maybe my ripped-knee jeans are just too bottom-heavy, because there is definitely no flying by the seat of these pants. I just end up typing aimlessly, while my characters essentially wander aimlessly and stare at each other on the page, tapping their heels and checking their watches. Epic fail.
I think this goes back to my own personality. In real life (as in, by day, since by night I am Super Author) I like control. I like to know what is coming. I hate surprises. Spontaneity can turn right back around and hit the trail because plans make me happy. Ridiculously happy, even. I enjoy having something to look forward to, and despise the uncertainty that comes with not knowing if I do or not.
There are exceptions, of course. For example—spontaneous flowers arriving as a delivery for me at work? Wonderful! Penning an entire novel without having a clue where it will end up? Heart attack!
I say all of this with slight jest, of course, because I think even the true pansters of the industry have to write with at least some skeletal structure to their story. But they definitely leave more room for surprises and detours compared to us plotters.
But as with everything, it takes all types, and this Type A girl is quite happy with her plotted course in life. And I do believe my editors appreciate the summaries I provide early on! However, there is always room for personal growth, just like with my characters. Too much of anything is usually a bad thing, and it might be time in my life to start being open to a few more surprises. A little more spontaneity. A bit of the unknown.
Because isn’t that where God works best—outside of our plans?
As an author, I shake up my characters. They think their day is going to consist of This and That with perhaps a bit of Something Else…yet I come along, shake the snowglobe, and watch the flakes and bubbles float where they will. And while all of that swirling chaos often looks like a hot, disorganized mess, it always lands and settles into a beautiful, snowy masterpiece by the time I type The End.
How many times as an author, or as a single mom, or as an employee, have I felt like a hot, disorganized mess? Too many times to count! How many times have I thought my day, my year, my life, was going to consist of This and That and Something Else? How many times have I planned and prepared and longed for a certain outcome, just to see it shaken right out of my slippery grasp?
And yet...I always land and settle somewhere safe, secure, and more beautiful than where I began.
I’ll keep plotting my stories. I can’t help it.
But maybe I’ll loosen up a little and prepare for some shaking up from the One who holds the whole world in His hands.
It’ll be beautiful.
Betsy St. Amant has a heart for three things – chocolate, new shoes and sharing the amazing news of God’s grace through her novels. She lives in Louisiana with her adorable story-telling young daughter, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. A freelance journalist and fiction author, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is multi-published in Contemporary Romance. When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to the Tangled soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching, and can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha.
Make sure to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of Betsy's latest release, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes.