Friday, July 22, 2011

So What Are You: Indy or Anal?

"I don't know. I'm making this up as a I go."

If I had a nickle for every time I got asked the question, "Are you a seat-of-the-pants kind of writer or a planner?" In other words, am I bull who just barrels ahead without mapping out my scenes ahead of time in the hopes of allowing my story to form naturally or what all the no-gluten-professor geeks at writing school call, "organically?" Or do you actually write up character sketches that include everything from place of birth to bathroom habits, and then map out each chapter detail for detail?

The answer I give is not really an answer.

"It depends on the book," I tell them. "And it also depends on the character."

If I'm writing a book like THE REMAINS that's intended to be stand-alone literary thriller that contains subject matter such as identical twins, modern art and autistic savants and that is also told from the P.O.V. of a women, you can bet your bottom ten-spot that I'm gonna plan it out ahead of time. I'm also going to do some meticulous research so that those Brown Shirt sabotage reviewers on Amazon don't try and crucify me yet again (Screw 'em!). In the end if I've done my job right and the writing is convincing enough, I just might have a bestseller on my hands. And THE REMAINS has been just that. A bestseller for over a year (And many thanks to those who have reviewed responsibly and spent precious time writing mature and critically appreciated reviews. I love you!)

But if I'm writing a novel like one of the Dick Moonlight Serials, now that's another story altogether. The Richard "Dick" Moonlight of MOONLIGHT FALLS, MOONLIGHT MAFIA, and the forthcoming MOONLIGHT RISES and MURDER BY MOONLIGHT is a total train wreck of a guy. He's got a little piece of .22 caliber bullet lodged inside his brain from a failed suicide attempt. The piece has lodged itself right beside his cerebral cortex causing him the occasional short term memory lapse and lack of judgement, especially under times of stress, which is usually always. He drinks too much, and he can also pass out at any time or even suffer stroke, coma and death. In a word, Moonlight has no clue if he'll be alive from one minute to the next. So his relentless search for right over wrong is always an unplanned adventure. Since he narrates all of his own stories, I feel the best way to write his books is to do so by the seat-of-my-pants. And thus far anyway, you loyal readers of mine (you know who you are), have sort of fallen in love with the dude. And that's a cool thing since he's the character who is most like me.

So what's the best way for you to write your book?

Remember when you'd ask you mom or dad what was for dinner, and not having decided on anything yet, they might ask you in return, "Well what do you feel like?" A lot of what we decide to put in our body is based not only on a craving but more so on what our bodies are lacking at that time. If we're protein starved we want meat or chicken. If were worn out and carb poor, we want pasta or even pizza.

It's the same with writing. Listen to you body and your brain, but most of all listen to your gut. Not your gut mind you, but the gut inside your main character. Is he or she someone who will want to be guided and reigned in? Or is he or she someone who won't plan for the next five minutes much less two afternoons from now?

Just remember, writing is a personal venture and there is no right or wrong way to do it. There is only just doing it.

Visit Vincent Zandri (that's me!) at Amazon's Author Central: (they asked me to say that!)


  1. I like your post. One of the things that fascinates me about the writing process is that it is unique for each person and even each book. To get to 'the end' you do what works.

    Happy Writing

  2. Very enjoyable. I tried to be anal... I had all those worksheets. I find that I do a character analysis and then the story is more indy. And when I get stuck, I pull out the worksheets again to get an idea. ;-)

  3. Excellent post, Vin, and I feel ya. I normally start a book with no outline, and then, once I feel I've gotten to know the main characters and what they'd probably do, I work up a VERY loose outline from there. Reserving the right, of course, to change it on the fly. That way, I to follow a set course but also leave room for spontaneous stuff.
    I realize no one said, "Hey, Heath, how do YOU do it?", but hey...

  4. Actually Heath I do believe V said,
    "So what's the best way for you to write your book?"
    I'm a planster. As in I have a loose plot like Heath but my characters are my muse. They dictate the course of the novel by their reactions, consequences and over reactions. I also have a tendency to write out of order.

    Great post V...I however don;t know what you were referring to when you said "I'm also going to do some meticulous research so that those Brown Shirt sabotage reviewers on Amazon don't try and crucify me yet again (Screw 'em!)."

    Was that on the Kindleboards?

  5. Thanks for the comments guys...The brown shirts refer to those reviewers her remain anonymous but post crappy one star reviews in the hopes that it will put a halt to your sales....