Pantser* vs Plotter

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Remember the cartoons where the Good Angel sits on one shoulder and the Bad Angel sits on the other, both whispering suggestions to the hapless MC?**

That’s my conflict as I write my new mystery. I am a pantser.

Bad Angel says “Let a neverending stream of words flow onto the page.”

Good angel says, “Don’t listen to her. One continuity issue and the whole plot might collapse.”

So now I’m working with a spreadsheet and pages and pages of notes.  If I write 500 words in a day I am THRILLED. Thanks a lot, Good Angel.

*In non-writer language, someone who flies by the seat of their pants. Not a pretty picture in my case.

**In non-writer language, that would be Main Character, as opposed to Master of Ceremonies.

Voice vote

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A genuinely wonderful agent at a recent conference suggested that my MC’s voice was not YA, and I should age her up. She was absolutely right. It gave me a lot more options plot-wise and I got a full manuscript request.

That said, what the hell is a YA voice? I’ve known more than a few 16-year-olds who enjoy discussing Martin Buber and a 9-year-old who can tell you all about winemaking in scientific terms.

I’ve read, on the other hand, that agents hate it when your teen characters overuse “like” and “like, you know.” Sadly, many highly intelligent young people* can’t get through like six sentences without like saying like, like—like two if they’re, like, talking to someone their own age.

Pontification warning (prepare to jump ship)

I’m a nurture over nature person. Voice is more than a product of age or raw intellect. Content, vocabulary, inflection, etc. are generally a reflection of what we hear and are regularly exposed to. Some 10 year-olds sound like adults and vice versa.

“So what is your conclusion, Carol?” I hear you ask.** A character’s voice needs to be consistent with who she is, and ‘teenager’ is only part of that.

*At my age that would mean anyone under 35.

**Of course I didn’t hear you. That was a figure of speech, you silly.

Caffeine for the soul

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I have returned from three days in NYC, bearing bagels, my creative energy radiating from every pore. When I win the lottery or write a runaway best seller,* I shall acquire a pied a terre** in whatever the coolest new part of Brooklyn happens to be.

*It still behooves me to understand why you would want your novel to run away.

**Sorry, but I’m tired of looking up “How to type accents on your Mac.”

Unicorns, editors, agents

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I signed up for the Unicorn Writers Conference ( March 25, Purchase,NY) today. It does not feature unicorns. But there are agents and editors.*

It’s expensive. But it’s also in a castle, which justifies the expense.

If you go, seek me out. I’ll buy you coffee.**

*Two out of three ain’t bad.

**Assuming I can still afford it.

Mom Bragging rights 2

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As I’m getting little done on my novel today (ok, I did add to the list of notes and spreadsheet, but seriously?), I shall again spotlight my son, who is absolutely getting things done. He’s the guy with what Tiki Barber refers to as a ‘Squishy Afro.’