Guest Post: Writing into the Abyss

968937_10200425521854247_1299342038_nToday, I have the pleasure of hosting Linda Adams. Linda is a travel administrator by day and an action-adventure writer by night. She has a short story published in the anthology The Darkness Within and is working on a contemporary fantasy/action-adventure novel. She is also a former soldier and served during the first Persian Gulf War, when it was still strange and new for women to be at war. You can visit her blog “Soldier, Storyteller” at

As a pantser, Linda is here to tell us about her unplanned journey into storytelling.

Wandering by Pat Caviglia’s blog for spell and a companion post to her A Writing Plan.  She outlines, and I’m the opposite — I write without an outline, or am a pantser.  I’m working on a contemporary fantasy set in an alternate world of Hawaii.

At times, it’s pretty scary because I sometimes have no idea what I’m going to do.  I may go into a story without almost nothing — sometimes not even the character’s names.  I just keep asking the characters what they want to do, and sometimes the results surprise me.

I had taken an online Odyssey revision class in January, and the instructor thought I should do more with the character’s pursuit into the discovery of his mother’s assassination 22 years ago.  So did my critique group.  The character — well, he had other plans.  While his sidekick kept pushing at him (like my critiquers), he kept getting mad at her because he did not want to do it!

Story Bible

The story bible is a steno pad — nothing fancy.  I divided the first few pages up into four sections for each letter of the alphabet.  This I listed names of characters and places.  After that, a page for each character.   Then, if I refer to a detail a second time, it goes onto the character page because I’m likely to use it again.   I’ll also include things that I might use that haven’t gotten into the story yet.

Novel Development

I use four questions for each scene:

  • Does this scene escalate the tension of the one before it?
  • Is this event caused by the one before it?
  • What is the setback in this scene?
  • Does this scene end in an unexpected way?

I usually do the questions somewhere in the middle of writing the scene and don’t get the last one until I’m near the end of the scene.  But the questions help make sure the scenes are connected together and keep the tension up.

So what’s your process?

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  1. #1 by patriciasands on June 20, 2013 - 10:24 PM

    It’s always interesting to see what works for each of us when it comes to writing. One aspect we all seem to share in the world of fiction is the way our characters often take charge and tell us where the plot is going!

    • #2 by Linda Adams on June 21, 2013 - 5:58 AM

      The hard part is that there is so much writing advice that wants to wrestle all that away and try to control it. I’ve had to learn more about guiding and sometimes prodding it, then trying to tell it where it go.

  1. Writing into the Abyss | Linda Adams

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