Please welcome Gwyn Cready today as she takes a moment to talk about her writing style and how she finds a balance between planning and inspiration and her new book, Just in Time for a Highlander.
People often ask if I’m a pantser or plotter, “pantser” being a writer who writes by the seat of one’s pants and “plotter” being someone who plots the story from one end to the other before starting. I’m going to be honest. I feel a lot of judgment in that question. There’s a clear bias toward plotting there. I mean, how about “Are you an inspired writer or one chained to a spreadsheet? Inspee or automaton?”
I am (IMHO) an interesting mix of both. The practicalities of publishing do require a pre-approved outline, which is absolutely painful for me. It takes at least a week of quiet and focused thinking, and since I’m rarely quiet and never focused, it’s a bit of a challenge. My husband will walk in and catch me staring out the window with my jaw hanging open and wonder if I’ve had a mild stroke.
I generally begin to write a book with the start, the end, and one or two key scenes in mind (one of them a sex scene, usually.) I’ve also created the canvas on which the hero and heroine will create the story, and that’s probably the part of pre-planning that has the most impact on the success of the story. The canvas needs to be big and tension-filled. In Just in Time for a Highlander, for example, the heroine is a young clan chieftess struggling to win the respect of her clansmen. She goes to a fortune teller to scare up a strong arm to help her. Naturally, she needs to be given exactly what she doesn’t need in order to get the story going. Instead of a Scots warrior, she ends up with a dashing Wall Street financier who knows nothing about fighting. His presence, moreover, is an obstacle keeping her from her objectives of settling the clansmen and getting a loan to fund a canal. Everything the hero does makes things more difficult for her. And that’s how a romance should start out, with two people at cross purposes.
But after the canvas is created and the horrifying outline has been approved, then I let my mind go wherever it wants to go. And my experience with publishers is that they’re fine with an author going “off-script” since it’s usually provoked by some great idea that’s popped into the writer’s head. The first third of a romance is about sexual tension and complications, the last third is about facing the moment when they realize they can’t be together and doing what’s necessary to change that, and the middle third of the book is about them falling in love and being forced to work together toward a now-common goal.
Without the practicalities of publishing, I would definitely write without a typed outline, but I’d still have the start, end, and a couple key scenes in my head, not to mention the all-important canvas. Without the practicalities of publishing, however, I would also take two to three years to write a book, so you can see where the practicalities are a good thing for everyone. Deadlines are scary, but they’re the only things that make me write faster. I still think one of the most amazing parts of publishing is that you sign a contract for a book due a year later, and no one checks to see if you’ve made any progress along the way until the day it’s due. (“Hey, Gwyn, are we going to be getting that manuscript today?”) IS THAT THE SORT OF RESPONSIBILITY YOU WANT RESTING ON THE SHOULDERS OF A WRITER? NO! OMIGOD, NO!
Title: Just in Time for a Highlander
Series: Sirens of the Scottish
Author: Gwyn Cready
Pubdate: February 3rd, 2015
From RITA winner Gwyn Cready comes a Scottish borderlands time travel romance perfect for fans of Outlander
For Duncan MacHarg, things just got real…
Battle reenactor and financier Duncan MacHarg thinks he has it made—until he lands in the middle of a real Clan Kerr battle and comes face to face with their beautiful, spirited leader. Out of time and out of place, Duncan must use every skill he can muster to earn his position among the clansmen and in the heart of the devastatingly intriguing woman to whom he must pledge his oath.
Abby needs a hero and she needs him now.
When Abigail Ailich Kerr sees a handsome, mysterious stranger materialize in the midst of her clan’s skirmish with the English, she’s stunned to discover he’s the strong arm she’s been praying for. Instead of a tested fighter, the fierce young chieftess has been given a man with no measurable battle skills and a damnably distracting smile. And the only way to get rid of him is to turn him into a Scots warrior herself—one demanding and intimate lesson at a time.
About the Author:
Gwyn Cready is a writer of contemporary, Scottish, and time travel romance. She’s been called “the master of time travel romance” and is the winner of the RITA Award, the most prestigious award given in romance writing. She has been profiled in Real Simple and USA Today, among others. Before becoming a novelist, she spent 25 years in brand management. She has two grown children and lives with her husband on a hill overlooking the magical kingdom of Pittsburgh.