Linda Maye Adams

Pantser Process Stage 3: What do I do?!!


Pink flowers on a tree

Late in summer, we’re now starting to get flowering trees like this.

With my basic research done, I decided to opt first to do a modern setting for flash fiction.  I really wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do.  I was thinking a mystery, because I want to branch out in some of the other genres, but when I first turned on my netbook, I was in a panic.

I didn’t know what to write!

Which is the life of a pantser.

But I kept thinking about this place near me.  It’s a small, historical cemetery that the neighborhood was built around.  Very strange because, for whatever reason, a developer built a house right behind it.  So, this house has a cemetery in it’s front yard.

That’s what I started with.  I began writing.  Still wasn’t sure where I was going with it.  A house I remember walking past to and from school came into the story.  It was a strange looking house because it had been painted green. Not a light green like you might find on most houses, but a high-gloss dark green that you would find on a park baseball field.  An elderly woman lived there, always in dressed in black.  She might have been a nice woman, and maybe a widow, but it had a creepy aspect to it.

By the time I got to the end of the story, I’d finally figured out the character piece.  It weighed in at 602 words.  Definitely horror.

The next day, I redrafted it to bring in the character piece earlier than the end.  The green house comes out and gets replaced by a stucco house, which are all over California.   I’m still missing the setting details, though.  Those are very hard for me to get into the story.  It’s like I have to take my brain out and put another one in its place to add them.  The story is now at 764 words.

Day 3, and it’s time to deal with the setting details.  I end up selecting four.  Sounds simple right?  That’s what gets me on the details — everyone thinks it’s hair color and eye color and is super easy to do.  Except it’s not.  The details have to be picked carefully to give the flavor of the specific area, of California, and to weave in the characterization.   The result is that those four details add about 160 words to the story.

Day 4:  Just fixing the typos and missing words, and then it’s off on submission.

Now it’s off to the Gold Rush story, and I have the same problem: I don’t know what I’m going to write.  Guess I’ll find out soon enough.

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