Tag Archives: Nora Roberts

Confessions of a Reformed Pantser

(That's not my scrunchie)

I hate outlines. I prefer to write like I read: with no idea what will happen next. While writing without a plan may be thrilling, it is also a very time-consuming, painful process for me.

My last manuscript was written in a few months; however I then spent the next year revising it, which included scrapping the first seventy pages. Although I liked the idea of pantsing my way through a manuscript along with Stephen King and Nora Roberts, in practice I ended up writing myself into all sorts of corners.

For my newest WIP, I’ve gone the planning route and the results so far have been outstanding. The feedback I’ve received from my fellow Restless Writers on my outline has allowed me to control the pace of the story, delete superfluous scenes that haven’t even been written yet and flesh out my protagonist (thereby ensuring that the first seventy pages of this WIP aren’t full of unnecessary character sketches).

In one sense, it feels like this process takes a lot longer, but I know that the bulk of my work is already done. If only I could apply this newfound organization to things like grocery shopping, I figure I’d have three or more hours a day to actually write.

Are you a planner or a pantser? Are you committed to one method? Why does it work (or not) for you?

LD

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Filed under Inspiration, Motivation, Starting up, Success stories, Trials and Tribulations

Dr. Humperdinck, I presume?

Hello my name is...When I was in grad school, I heard that female PhD candidates were still being told to publish under their initials rather than their names, because being a woman would impede their progress on the tenure track. We’ve come a long way, baby, and gender should no longer be the reason you’re not using your real name.

However, some writers do write and publish under pseudonyms. I can see why some people might want to write under an assumed name, especially if they’re just starting out, and need that extra layer of anonymity to help them release their writing inhibitions. A pen name is a kind of security blanket. Or a blank slate.

But adopting a pen name isn’t just for amateurs. Some writers who are already rock stars in one genre might want to try something new on for size without confusing their readers, or want to disguise their prolificacy. Three cases in point: Nora Roberts as J.D. Robb, Anne Rice as A.N. Rocquelare, and Stephen King as Richard Bachman.

You may not be Anne Rice, but you might decide to write under an assumed name for modesty’s sake. Let’s say your mom reads every single piece you churn out—but doesn’t know that you’re also writing super-charged erotic fiction under your “porn name” (your middle name plus the street you grew up on. That would make me Helena Baldwin. Posh, no?).

Perhaps you think your name is wretchedly boring, and you want your work to stand out. So, Mary Smith, maybe Mariah Smythe is a good option for you. Temper your creativity, though. The jury’s still out on Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold George Dorsey).

Maybe it’s the opposite: you think your name is too unusual. I always thought my maiden name was too difficult to spell and pronounce, so I spent countless teenage hours trying out new writerly identities. I still hadn’t figured out a great one by the time I got married, but taking my husband’s name made the exercise moot.

For some writers, the reasons for taking a pseudonym are much more personal. Writing an autobiographical account of child abuse, detailing your painful divorce, or fictionalizing the shenanigans of your old boss…these might be legitimate reasons for using a pen name. Some of these reasons fall under the category of CYA: Cover Your Ass.

Some reasons for using a pen name may be valid. But if you’re just shy about releasing your stories into the world and being vulnerable to public opinion, maybe being a writer isn’t for you. Your work will be read and judged and bought and promoted and rejected and critiqued and loved and forgotten. That’s part and parcel of the writer’s life.

As a dear friend of mine once said, “suck it up, buttercup.” It’s your work—own it!

Have any of you published under a pen name?

Maria

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Filed under Getting published, Trials and Tribulations