An interesting post by Robert Browne at Killzoneblog: Faster than a Speeding Bullet, about writing romances.
You see, many of my writer friends are women. And many of those woman work in the world of romance, specifically the world of Harlequin romance. Some of them work for a line called Harlequin Intrigue, which is all about romantic suspense, and the emphasis on suspense over romance is completely up to the author.
When I asked my buddy Debra Webb (the Queen of Intrigue) if any men ever write for the line, she told me they did indeed and “Oh, my God, you should write for them! I’ll introduce you to my editor!”
The next thing I knew I was writing an outline and sample chapters and within a month I was working for Intrigue under a female pen name …
Now, I have certainly suspected that there must be a reasonable number of guys writing romances under female pen names, and that could spark a whole different discussion about reader expectations and prejudices and as far as that goes, I also wonder whether any women write Westerns or political thrillers under male names.
Actually, what I would most like to try is a massive experiment where ALL debut authors for the next decade or two go strictly by initials and last names and use their pets’ pictures as icons online and just see what that does to reader expectations and career outcomes for writers . . . well, I digress. The part of this post I actually wanted to point out is this bit:
Ever since I started writing, I’ve been a pantser. I come up with an idea, kinda sorta figure out who the main character is, then sit down and start writing. I had tried outlining many, many times (just like all the writing books say we should) and I just couldn’t stand to do them. My eyes would glaze over after three paragraphs. … But for the Harlequin Intrigue audition I had no choice but to write that outline and three sample chapters.
And so that’s what Browne did. Full outlines and suddenly he could write a book way faster than usual.
Contrast this with Hillerman from the post a couple days ago. He tried to write outlines and just couldn’t.
I feel there are probably three kinds of “pantsers” (I hate that term, please suggest something else?) in the world:
a) Like Tony Hillerman, the writer simply can’t write an outline that is coherent or goes anywhere.
b) Like Robert Browne, the writer can write an outline and finds it beneficial, but hates to do it.
c) Like me, the writer can produce (painfully) an outline that is sort of coherent, but finds it impossible to stick to the outline in practice. Attempts to do so result in EVEN MORE revision than usual, and believe me, I experience no lack of revision ordinarily. The outline actually slows down the production of a final draft because of having to periodically stop and figure out what’s not working and what to do instead of what the outline says.