In perfect timing after after Monday’s “The Dangers of SOTP Writing” article, Betty Thomason Owens shares a positive experience with writing by the seat of the pants. Three cheers for chasing rabbits . . .
I had the perfect plan for my final book in the Legacy series. For the first time in my life, I was using a plan. I’d laid it all out in advance…plotted the story. This was going to be fun.
Then one of the characters, who happened to be a pivotal one—my original antagonist—surprised me. This guy was prom king, a football hero, troubled, but popular at school. He tended to party too hard, and he’d tried to take my protagonist with him, until her dad put a stop to it, which only drove him harder. Then he was out to get her, make her turn back to him.
In my plan, he’d been awarded a free ride, a football scholarship. I was all set to write a chapter having him stop at home to grab his belongings and head to college. That’s when the surprise came. I had not planned on what met him at the door of his home, nor did I plan on how it all played out. But the words came fast and furious. It had to be right. It felt right.
After that chapter, I had to find a way to use what I had learned about this character. I read the chapter again. And again. And then, in true pantser fashion, I followed its lead. The storyline was stronger, rich with life and drama and angst. I’d been given a glimpse into something real.
Down the road, my antagonist would reach a turning point, and it wouldn’t end the way I’d planned. But I love how it played out. As I formed the words at the end of the story, I smiled. Well, I cried a little too, because life had worked through a difficult situation and turned it into destiny.
As a writer, I spend hours making up stuff. When I’m finished polishing the things I’ve made up, I hope it looks like real life. I hope it mirrors images. The little surprises that come along the way fortify the stories and make them more real. Sometimes real life isn’t pretty. Not all stories will end well.
My best laid plans may be interrupted by real life. When life intervenes, I wonder whether what I do serves any purpose at all. I’m just making stuff up. Am I making a difference?
I believe this final chapter of the Legacy series answers my question with a resounding “Yes!” The message woven into the story is a good one—a sound one. The scripture I placed at the beginning of the book lays the foundation: “For it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).
I’ve written a story filled with unplanned moments that in the right circumstances could shed light on some very important Biblical principles. Yet the story also contains fun, adventure, mystery, and a healthy dose of romance. And I wrote it by the seat o’ my pants.
Betty Thomason Owens has been writing for thirty years. She’s a multi-published, award-winning author of historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. An active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she leads a critique group, and serves as vice-president/secretary of the Louisville area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and co-founder of the Inspired Prompt blog. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.
Betty would like to invite you to her Facebook author page, Twitter, GoodReads, Pinterest, Instagram, Amazon Author Page. And she posts weekly on her blog, Hello, Thursday Morning, found at https://bettythomasonowens.com/.
Rebecca’s Legacy, Book 3 Legacy Series
Her desperate attempt to escape Dad’s control comes at the worst possible time. A threat against their family and Sanderson Industries has Robert Emerson taking extra steps to guarantee his family’s safety. He sends Amy, an heiress and a debutante, to the country to work on a produce farm run by Aunt Rebecca. Humiliated and angry, Amy contemplates a path that will lead her even farther from home, away from Dad’s protection.
Will Aunt Rebecca’s quiet strength and unconditional love be enough to still the prodigal daughter’s rebellious ways, and open her heart to the plight of others around her?
Matt Wordsworth is the man Robert calls upon to help keep his daughter in line. She thinks the guy is an old fuddy-duddy. By the time her ideas about him begin to change, it may be too late. When an old friend tests her loyalty, she is forced to face her past. But, is she playing into the hands of the enemy?
What will it take to teach a spoiled heiress that the greatest legacy is love?