Today I’m joining the blog tour for The Summer House in Santorini, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
Author Samantha Parks discusses why she wishes she was more of a pantser than a planner. Over to you, Samantha…
In the writing world, there is sometimes a distinction made between different types of writers, classifying one group as planners and the other as pantsers. Being American, I had no idea what it meant to be a pantser, but apparently it means to make things up as you go along. Planners, on the other hand, like to have the details of the plot, the characters and the setting planned out before they start writing.
I am and always have been a planner. I love organising and planning things. I’ve been known to organise weddings that aren’t actually happening, and my secret hobby has always been drawing floor plans for houses. (If you think there isn’t a floor plan somewhere for every building in my new novel, you’re sorely mistaken.) For The Summer House in Santorini, I knew every plot point before I got to it, if not before I started. There is a bit of room for spontaneity, but my brain works in a way that the general arc needs to exist before I put words on the page.
However, I’m not actually convinced that being a planner is the best way forward. Were my structural edits any easier having planned out the story in advance? Heck no. Did it save me any time? If anything, it probably took MORE time. But those aren’t my biggest gripe about being a planner.
No, the most difficult part is that I run the risk of over-planning. While one may think it would make the writing process easier to have then dots there and ready to be connected, the issue is that sometimes the dots are so well planned that I can already see the full picture. When this happens, the interest in the story wanes, because there’s already a bow on it in my mind. My intellectual curiosity is satisfied. My narrative is complete. What’s the point of continuing?
Obviously a well-thought-out outline never made for a good novel, so there was reason to continue. I have a finished book, after all. But during the first draft of this book, I learned the important lesson that it’s vital to my writing process to keep some things unplanned. My editor Emily challenged me during structural edits to just try something and see how it went instead of trying to work it out in my head first, and it was the best possible advice. I genuinely don’t think this book would be making it to publication if I had planned every detail of subsequent drafts ahead of time like I did with the first one.
So if you’re a planner like me, where obsessively planning your story is a way for you to feel less anxious about it, I challenge you to leave some parts completely open. It’s difficult to do, but it will keep you invested in and excited about the story.
Are you a pantser or a planner? Tweet me at @samanthajgale to let me know! And of course don’t forget to grab my debut novel The Summer House in Santorini for just 99p/$2.99 wherever you buy your ebooks.
Here’s the book info and that gorgeous cover…
Anna’s running away. From a failed relationship, a dead-end career and a complicated family life.
On the island of Santorini, with its picturesque villas, blue-tiled roofs, and the turquoise waters of the Aegean lapping at the white sand beaches, Anna inherits a less-than-picturesque summer house from her estranged father. As she rebuilds the house, she rebuilds her life, uncovering family secrets along the way that change everything. She starts to fall for her little slice of paradise, as well as for gorgeous, charming Nikos.
Will Anna lose her heart in more ways than one?