The Life and Tribulations of a Pantser

Hi. My name is Natalina Reis and I’m a pantser.

Most of the time this does not bother me in the least. I just ride the wave of creativity and see where it takes me. But there are moments when I wish I was more of a planner so I could avoid those instances of staring into the screen of my laptop wondering what the hell to write.

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I just started a new WIP. A while back I had written a flash fiction piece for my publisher and I immediately fell in love with the characters and knew I had to write their story. The problem is that beyond the fact that they would fall in love and have their HEA, I had nothing else. Okay, maybe I did have the sketchy beginnings of two hopefully awesome characters and their personalities, but that was it. Not unusual for me. My expertise in pantsing often repeats this pattern of starting from a big chunk of nothing and turn it into something.

I had to wait since I was still finishing my last WIP. Big mistake. A friend happened to suggest in passing that I ride the modest success I had with my last paranormal romance and write another. Cai and Sam’s story was lined up to be a contemporary m/m romance. However my freakishly hyperactive imagination immediately set those two into the background of a shifter romance.

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Fast forward to yesterday when I finally was able to start writing it. After a long stretch of time researching hawks, I was ready. Right! I sat, staring at the laptop for over an hour. My mind refused to make the jump from contemporary to paranormal, no matter how much I wanted it. After a while I gave up and went back to editing my other novel.

Later that day my brain lit up and the words came to me. I was ready to make the transition–kind of like my main character transitioning from human to hawk, I was able to begin the spin into paranormal. The words began to flow.

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This doesn’t mean that I won’t be staring at the laptop again tomorrow or the next day searching for words to push the story forward because in my mind, my story plans are still as clear as mud. I would describe my process as when you are walking or driving through a very thick fog–what’s in front of  you reveals itself one thing at a time and always when you are almost upon it. There’s a certain beauty to it, like unwrapping a unexpected gift. Like everything else in life there is a good and a bad side to being a pantser. When it’s bad, it is very bad. But when it’s good, it’s amazing.

What does your writing process look like? I’d love to hear about it.

Writing Samael- Behind The Character

 

Writing Samael- Behind The Character

(Lavender Fields villain)

Writing nice, likable characters with hearts of gold is easy for me. Writing villains, as it turns out, is not. Not because I can’t imagine a character vile enough to make a good villain but because I have a tendency—or so I’m told—to create cheesy villains. In the words of one of my editors (I should be mad at him but he made me laugh so I forgive him) at first, Samael came across as the cartoon villain in The Incredibles. I still don’t agree with this assessment of Samael, but I figured that if even one reader agreed with my editor, I’d be in big trouble. I decided to change it.

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Buddy Pine, aka Syndrome from the Incredibles

I needed Samael to be truly dark, inside and out, the epitome of evil. I wanted the readers to be afraid for my characters. And, if I’m totally honest, I wanted the readers to have some nightmares about this character and what he may do to Caleb and Sky. I dug into my previous experiences writing villains and rehashed the one I felt was the most insidious of all.

This character is from a novel I wrote a long time ago and which hasn’t as yet seen the light of day. It was never edited and rests on my pile of maybe-one-day-I’ll-revise manuscripts. This man—can’t even remember his name right now—was evil because he hated and harmed for no logical reason. He had no other motivation but hate itself. In the original manuscript, he hated the main character because of his race. Samael hated Sky because he was in many ways different from him. Ultimately though he just hated because it gave him pleasure, it justified his existence. Isn’t that the ultimate evil?

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Samael is the character that reflects many of Sky’s fears—his fear of being enlisted by the dark angels, losing his freedom, and ultimately his fear of losing the things and people he loves the most. Just like the boggart in Harry Potter, Samael is the incarnation of everything Sky abhors and fears.

Who wouldn’t be scared of evil that can sneak on you at any time and has the power of angelic magic on its side? Samael made my skin crawl while I was writing him, and yes, I had a few nightmares about him. I think I’ve achieved a truly scary villain but, in the end, the readers are the ones who will decide.

LFFeathers