24 September 2011

Guest post: Buried Treasure by Xakara

I am INCREDIBLY excited to have Xakara on my blog today! We met through the awesomely fun Six Sentence Sunday and have been enjoying each other's virtual company ever since. Take it away, Xakara!!!

Greetings, Kittens!

Lex and I were kicking back a few weeks ago and starting talking about the writing process. I know, I know, what is possibly left to say about it? Definitively? Nothing. Utterly subjective? Everything and more.

I have yet to follow any particular path or rule when it comes to writing, so the ones that others ignore, break or reinvent always intrigue. When writers meet each other, the inevitable question is, panster or plotter, and if you’re really getting into it, quilter becomes an option. For those not familiar with the writer’s lexicon, do you write by the seat of your pants, plot and outline everything to come, or work on scenes as they come to you and patch them together like squares of quilt? I don’t do any one of these, but I do some combination of all them at different points.

I don’t plot, won’t plot, likely can’t plot and never shall plot—amen! On paper anyway. Scenes work themselves out in my head as I go along and often there’s a particular point/scene/moment that I’m working towards, but I never outline or commit myself to elements of a story before I get to them. I tried that once and the story nearly self-destructed. Never again my friends, never again. That said, I never go into a scene without a clue, either. Sometimes it’s a nebulous clue, a snatch of dialogue or a visual calling my name, but it’s always something that pulls me there. I work out the rest as I go.

I don’t always get everything for a story in order. I deeply loathe those times, but I’ve had my fair share of piecing things together. Of course that doesn’t mean that I knew exactly where those scenes were going when I wrote them, any more than I knew what happened between them. I simply recognized that they happened eventually and that I might as well get them down and figure out the rest later. To cover the spread, I came up with the term patchwork panster, but there’s a little more to it in my mindset.

While talking with Lex, I revealed that feel like an archeologist when I write. I dig down, layer by layer, and find the precious bits beneath the surface. This is sometimes called the nugget approach, but when you pan for gold, you throw away a great deal as garbage. When you work at a dig site, even the dirt is valuable and tells you more about the treasures you’ve discovered. It’s a very different perspective.

I have documents filled with excerpts. Excerpts from what exactly, I couldn’t tell you, but they came to mind while working on projects where they didn’t quite fit. With the archeology approach, each sample is labeled, catalogued and stored for future use. When the time comes they are cleaned and teased into revealing their larger shape, until in the end, an entire manuscript is left behind, all shiny and new.

Every new story is a new site that reveals a new era of creative evolution. I’m excited to find what comes next because I honestly never know what’s beneath the living, breathing soil, waiting to be discovered. There’s this magical moment when I get to be both a reader and an author, watching it all unfold with each new page, knowing where I want it to go, but never quite sure it’ll get there.

It must sound odd to non-writers, but most of us have no clue where a story will end once we begin it. Or the ending is often all we have and we’re left strolling along, trying to figure out how our, (hopefully), beloved characters ended up where they did. We write for the same reason others read, because we want to know what happens next. We want to see where it’s all headed. And just like readers, when the story is good, we want others to come with us, so we publish. Our styles differ, but our ultimate goal of sharing our worlds is the same, no matter if we plot, pants, quilt or dig. We’re all trying to bring you buried treasures.

Thanks for having me, Lex. And thanks for joining us, Kittens.

This Ramble is done!


Thanks again, Xakara! Awesome post!!!

If you'd like more Xakara, check out her Facebook author page, her livejournal, or tweet her! 

Her books are available on Amazon:


Kimberley Troutte said...

Good post, Xakara.

I've never heard of quilting (as it refers to writing), but low and behold, that's what I do. A quilter. Who knew?

As far as plotting goes, I know what the story is going to be about (the general premise) before I begin. I visualize the key scenes, trying to see them pretty clearly before I jot them down in my notebook. Then I get on to the character sketches. Usually after I know may characters better and know what drives them (goals, conflicts and motivations) additional scenes pop up.

Right about this point my pantser self is itching to go. I have to write. And so I do. Usually the opening scene, but occasionally a later scene that is so hot to be written that I must start there first.

Once I start, the pantser in me drives the story like a race car driver--as fast and far as possible. The scenes seem to magically come together. Except... When they don't. LOL. Sometimes, the speeding car crashes into a brick wall. That darn pantser girl wasn't watching where she was going! I have to back up and figure out where the story veered off course. But honestly, these moments are fabulous. I learn about my characters, the process, and myself when I have to fix mistakes, layer in additional story, or reinvent the wheel.

It keeps things interesting and it seems to be the only way I know how to do things.

It's my process and I'm sticking to it.

Kimberley Troutte
Also at Beyond the Veil

Lolita Lopez said...

I do a bit of both. All of my short erotica is done by the seat of my pants. I have an idea of what the story is about, say, a hotel room, a maid and a Brit with a kinky streak and then let the muse go wherever she chooses. Sometimes I know I want to include a particular, erm, sex act so I'll make sure to work that in but other than that, it's all by the seat of my pants.

Now longer books or series or whatever? No, I have to plot those and keep notes otherwise I end up with one hot mess at the end!

Writer and Cat said...

I can never get more than 1/3 or 1/2 of the book if I don't know how it's all going to come together at the end! So I don't necessarily have to plot the rest of it...just that.

Xakara said...

It's always interesting to hear from folks that plot. I wish that I could since I write series, but the most I ever get is a page of notes on anything that comes to mind. The rest stays in flux until I'm about a third or so of the way through.

Thanks for weighing in! :)