posted on May 10, 2019 by T.H. Hernandez & Jennifer DiGiovanni

How A Plotter and a Panster wrote a book together and lived to tell about it

Theresa and I met online about five years ago, thanks to a mutual admiration for each other’s work. We became critique partners and developed a friendship that went beyond writing. We encouraged each other through the querying and publication of our first novels. At some point along the way, we started kicking around the idea of writing a book together. We had a fun concept in mind, but finding the time between our separate writing commitments was difficult. And there was also the fact that our writing processes were very different.

I’m a pantser. Just looking at an outline makes my heart race. How do you complete a plan for your story when you don’t exactly where you’re going? Even if I know how I want the book to end, I’m never sure how I’ll get there until I work through a rough draft or two.

Theresa is a plotter. She’s much more organized than me. Writing together was a little scary at first, but it worked because each of us were willing to compromise. Theresa sent me her outline in an excel spreadsheet and I filled in some, but not all, of the blanks. (And I will admit that I did go back and change a lot of my initial plot points after the first couple of drafts.) But once we had enough of an outline for Theresa to feel comfortable, we started drafting.

The other part of the co-writing process I was worried about was the need to stop and start after each chapter. When I draft, I like to sink into the story and build momentum, working toward the climax of the story. But when I finished my chapter and Theresa was writing her part of the story … I wasn’t. Not to worry, I was still busy – I had my own projects to work on. But the concern lingered in the back of my mind. What if I lost that precious momentum? Thankfully, it never really happened. (Possibly because we had an outline to follow?)

After a number of drafts, we had a book we were happy with, started revising, and never looked back. I loved getting to see someone else’s writing process up close and I learned a lot about plotting that will hopefully make my future projects stronger. But, I’m still a pantser at heart, currently slogging my way through a new manuscript without any excel spreadsheets to back me up. Wish me luck!

-Jen

Writing with a pantser taught me a lot about writing. More than I ever imagined. I like to pants it when I’m painting, putting together the latest acquisition from Ikea, even cooking. But when I sat down to write my first novel, I approached it from a project management perspective. After spending ten years as a project manager, I knew how plan down to the most minute details and carry out a project according to that plan. It was easy to apply that same approach to writing. I mean, how can you write a story if you don’t know where you’re going?

I knew Jen wasn’t on board with my regular process, and I’ll admit, the planning sometimes takes months before I ever write a single word, so we compromised. I needed a basic story arc, character arc, and even an outline of the scenes. It was so much less than I was used to, that I wasn’t even sure how to write my first chapter. I had parts of a skeleton when I was used to having an entire body fully defined before I brought that body to life.

But there was something incredibly liberating about writing by the seat of my pants, about not knowing everything that was going to happen along the way. I thought I knew what I was going to do with my chapters, but as I read what Jen wrote, I found myself going in a different direction, a direction I didn’t anticipate, but loved so much more than what I had planned.

The entire experience was mind-expanding and creative. Will I change from a plotter to pantser? Definitely not. Will I plot less next time? Not unless I’m writing with Jen. Because I’m convinced the only way I can pull it off is by working with her.

-Theresa

_________________________________________________

PROM-WRECKED

Their prom night ended in a jail cell with forty of their closest friends. But that’s hardly the worst thing that happened to them…

When the principal announces prom is canceled this year, senior Riley Hart is determined to save it. Armed with little more than her own enthusiasm, she ends up working closely with Owen Locklear, who is more than completely off-limits. Because he’s the boyfriend of her ex-BFF, Catherine Reed. Still, Owen knows Riley better than almost anyone, and his charming ideas for turning the prom upside-down and backward win Riley over.

Catherine is willing to join Owen and Riley on the prom committee, but only because her legacy as prom queen is at stake. She’s already suffocating under the weight of her parents’ expectations for after senior year, and compared to that, ensuring prom happens should be easy. At least until everything starts to go wrong.

First they lose their deposit. Then they book a band full of octogenarians. And lose their venue… Twice.

Riley will have an unforgettable teenage experience, damn it, if it’s the last thing she does…

T.H. Hernandez

T.H. Hernandez

T.H. Hernandez is a young adult author of six novels, spanning the contemporary, post-global warming/dystopian, and urban scifi genres. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband, three kids, and a zoo-worthy collection of animals. Her latest release, PROM-WRECKED, was co-written with Jennifer DiGiovanni and releases May 2019 from Entangled Teen.

http://thhernandez.com/

Jennifer DiGiovanni

Jennifer DiGiovanni

Jennifer DiGiovanni writes light fantasy and contemporary fiction for teens. You can find out more about her books by visiting www.jenniferdigiovanni.com or following her on Instagram or Twitter @jendwrites.

http://www.jenniferdigiovanni.com/

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