This Is Going…Where?
This is for all you pantsers out there. Yes, this is an acknowledgement that you are my people, my writing tribe. It’s not that I’ve never plotted anything all the way through before, it’s just that 75% of the time, I don’t. It just doesn’t happen. Best of intentions and all that, but I’m not a Promethean sort of writer.
I often wish that I was. There comes a point in every book I don’t pre-plan where I feel like smacking myself on the head and taking myself to task over not working this out “before you’re fifty-three thousand words in and stuck, woman!” I don’t always have absolutely no plan, but a nebulous outline in the back of my head does not a strong plot make. In the beginning, it’s so easy to let the characters run away with things. It’s so much fun, too. To imagine plotting all that fun out—well, it’s a little like scheduling sex. You can do it, and it doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be good, but there’s a lot to be said for spontaneity.
With Off The Beaten Path, I had an idea for the opening scene first. I’d just hiked through that section of wilderness, I was feeling inspired, and hey, werewolves are always fun. So I thought, “Okay, let’s see where this goes,” and I wrote the first chapter. And it was great. Great! And then I had to write the second chapter, and I went, “Oookay, so…now I need a love interest.” And I managed that, and some conflict, and things were going swimmingly for another twenty thousand words or so, and then my conflict dried right up. I had no subplots. I had no wrenches to throw in the works that weren’t drenched in the king of angst I just can’t handle in my stories.
So, cue the mid-book plotting session with my beta reader that I could have had in the beginning and didn’t. Backtrack and add some extra tension, write a few more supporting characters in there, figure out how to make something good better. Then read it again and revise. Then move on, head muddled but heart hopeful, and finish the damn thing three months later because of course that’s when you finish it. Schedules are for people who plan ahead!
It all worked out in the end though. Or did it? You should read Off The Beaten Path and let me know.
When Ward Johannsen’s little girl Ava shifted into a werewolf, she was taken into custody by the feds and shipped off to the nearest pack, all ties between father and daughter severed. Ward burned every bridge he had discovering her location, and then almost froze to death in the Colorado mountains tracking her new pack down. And that’s just the beginning of his struggle.
Henry Dormer is an alpha werewolf and an elite black ops soldier who failed his last mission. He returns home, hoping for some time to recuperate and help settle the pack’s newest member, a little pup named Ava who can’t shift back to her human form. Instead he meets Ward, who refuses to leave his daughter without a fight. The two men are as different as night and day, but their respect for each other strikes a spark of mutual interest that quickly grows into a flame. They might find something special together—love, passion, and even a family—if they can survive trigger-happy pack guardians, violent werewolf politics, and meddling government agencies that are just as likely to get their alpha soldiers killed as bring them home safely.
Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior, she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which promptly sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a hut, and said, “See ya!” She also started writing then because what else are you going to do for entertainment with no electricity? She writes award-winning LGBTQ fiction featuring aliens, supervillains, soothsayers, and even normal people sometimes. You can contact Cari at firstname.lastname@example.org. In fact, please do. She’d love to hear from you.
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