My Writing Process by A. Y. Stratton

January 26 2014

My Writing Process

The truth is I don’t have a writing process, unless you call this a process:

I am on a walk and see a workman loading a truck in a neighbor’s driveway. The man is young and fit, his shirtsleeves rolled up to reveal his muscles. Nice muscles. The box he’s carrying must be heavy because he’s sweating and it’s cool out. And he has a tarp over the box. The tarp covers up the writing that might reveal what’s in the box. I begin to suspect he’s stealing something from the neighbor, a lawn mower that was sitting on the grass or something from the back yard. Maybe a TV on the screened porch? All he has to do was use a razor to slit the screen and bang!  The loot is in his truck and off he goes. I should always have paper and pencil in my pocket, so I can write down a license plate number.

I’m at a clothing store, waiting to try on some slacks. The woman in front of me steps into the first available dressing room with at least a half dozen outfits draped over her arms. She’s in the dressing room for a long time. I suspect she’s putting all the items on beneath her other clothes.

When I can’t go to sleep at night, I make up stories, adventures with thieves like the workman and the woman, lovers like the ones I see whispering to each other in bars. And pretty soon I have a story. The workman is really a detective spying on the drug king who lives across the street from the construction site.  The woman in the department store is hiding from the man who has been following her. Why is he following her? To track down her parents who never returned from their vacation in Cuba.

As I began my latest published novel, Buried Secrets, I imagined two people hiding in a closet while a murder takes place in the bedroom. I loved writing that chapter. I had to figure out what they were doing there. The man was going to be my hero, so he had to be there for a good reason. And the woman had to be on a quest too, so that took some tricky plotting. Then I had to figure out how they would escape.

I go to a lot of Milwaukee Brewers games. While I’m there I wonder if the handsome rookie playing first base has a girlfriend back home in Arkansas. Maybe he has one in Milwaukee too. The women fans swamp him at the autograph sessions. He falls for a wealthy city girl who waits for him after the games. Who invites him out to her father’s boat on Lake Michigan and introduces him to her friends. I imagine her ex-boyfriend is jealous and plots to get the ball player drunk so he can plant drugs on him. And maybe… I really like this idea. I wonder what will happen next.

Conclusion? I am a confirmed *pantser.

*A person who writes stories by the seat of her pants, without an outline or a character list.