Today I’m thrilled to be hosting a guest blog by fellow Wisconsinite Katherine Hastings, author of the new historical romance, In the Assassin’s Arms. I am a plotter to the extreme for many of the same reasons Katherine discusses below. Check out her tips, read an excerpt of her new book, and enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift card in the link below!
“Nice to Meet You”
by Katherine Hastings
The writing world is divided between two types of writers… plotters and pantsers. Plotters plan out their entire story before ever typing a word. Pantsers crack their knuckles and let their fingers go wild, discovering the story as they go. Both ways can turn out incredible stories, and I’ve actually tried both. In the end, this writer turned out to be a plotter. I found that by having my entire story sorted out before I start writing allows me to write efficiently and without having to do much editing to the plot when I’m done. All the plot holes and problems are figured out long before my fingers hit the keyboard and I can write without getting hung up as I go.
However, there is one big difference between myself and much of the plotter world. Even though every novel I write is thoughtfully outlined and structured before I type the first word, the one thing I let expand naturally in my writing is the characters. Other than a few basic details about them like their name, appearance, and where they’re from, I tend to leave the rest open to discovery as my story unfolds. When I’m writing my novels, I’m discovering things about my characters the same way my readers do. Like peeling an onion, I learn more about them one layer at a time.
In a recent novel I wrote there is a supporting character who was barely a thought before I started typing. He didn’t even have a name when he entered that first chapter. The only thing I knew about him was that he was going to be a friend to my heroine and a person for her to confide in throughout the novel. When I started typing out his first scene, I closed my eyes and pictured him walking up. I could see him parting the crowd while my heroine discovered him too. When he introduced himself to her, I felt like he was introducing himself to me as well.
Hello, Mark. Nice to meet you, I thought while I examined him closely wondering how he would play out in my novel. As the chapters went on and he developed, I found myself more and more drawn to him and soon he was playing a starring role in my book. While most of my dialogue comes out without much planning or thought on my part, this particular character had a way of speaking and behaving that had me laughing out loud at the crazy things he did and said. Then I laughed harder realizing I was writing him, and yet he someone found a way to surprise me every time he opened his mouth. It’s a bizarre feeling being shocked by something you typed after you typed it. There may have been a few moments when I saw my husband peering over at me with an arched brow while I rolled in laughter at my computer.
“Aren’t you quite entertained with yourself?” he asked one night.
I shook my head. “It’s not me. It’s Mark. He’s hilarious!” I answered, as if the man I was creating on the page was an actual person I had no control over. However, with this character especially, that is exactly how it felt. He just ran around doing stuff and saying things that kept me giggling away while I hustled around behind him trying to write it all down.
Each character of mine has a mind of their own and I love when they take control of my fingers and tell the story the way only they can. As much as I enjoy planning my novels, and as much as I love how easy it makes writing the story, pantsing my characters is one of the greatest joys of writing for me. It allows me to be surprised and excited while I write, waiting to discover more about them and the things they do and say, the secrets that haunt their pasts, and the desires that drive them on. Every time I start typing a new book, I get excited when my character enters a scene and I can smile and say, “Nice to meet you!”
About the Author:
Katherine Hastings loves love. It’s why she writes romance novels. Getting lost writing a romantic adventure is one of her favorite pastimes. When she’s not on an adventure in her mind with her characters, she can be found at her home in Wisconsin snuggling her husband, two Boston Terriers, and the world’s naughtiest cat. Two things make Katherine want to leave her happy home these days… going for rides on her dressage pony or floating at the beach in her big inflatable raft. Writing her novels while floating in the lake is one of her ultimate pleasures… that and Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds, of course.
Synopsis of In the Assassin’s Arms
John Douglas may be a well-trained political assassin, but he has met his match in the woman he once called a friend. When his childhood playmate reenters his life, she’s not looking to rekindle their friendship… she’s out for blood.
With a vendetta to settle, Charlotte Cornewalle isn’t stopping until she finds the man who killed her father. All signs point to Robert Douglas, the leader of the opposing faction of assassins… and John’s father. To get her revenge, no one will stand in her way… not even the boy she once adored.
Fate forces them together as they fight to prove their innocence and right the wrongs they have suffered. Sparks fly from more than just their swords, but will they be able to put the past behind them? Will they be able to find the truth before it destroys them both?
Excerpt from In the Assassin’s Arms
“John, you’ve got an untreated arrow wound and you were sitting with it exposed in a dank, dirty cell.”
“I’ll be fine.”
“John,” she cautioned.
He rolled his eyes. “Fine.” He grabbed the bottom of his shirt and pulled it up over his head. Charlie tried not to stare but the sight of him illuminated in the warm morning light proved impossible to ignore. His muscles bulged beneath his skin. Chiseled lines marked every hour of training and practice that had carved him into a near ideal specimen. Only a few old scars marred the otherwise perfect physique.
“You just wanted to see me without my shirt on, didn’t you? The whole, ‘I want to treat your wound’ speech was just a ploy?” He had not been unaware of the effect he was having on her.
Clearing her throat, she looked away. “Don’t flatter yourself. If you’re going to fight at my side, I don’t need you dizzy with fever from an infection. Sit over there.” She gestured to the chair while trying to slow the breathing that had quickened from the sight of him.
“As you wish.” He strolled past her. She tried to act casual while she peered from her peripheral vision for another look at him before he sat down.
“Nurse, your patient is waiting,” he said with a smile.
She stood up, walked over to the bucket of water and pulled out the metal ladle, filling the pot with several scoops of water. She placed it on the spit over the fire and hunted around for a piece of rag. John’s eyes followed her everywhere she went.
“Let’s have a look,” Charlie said as she approached.
“My wound is up here,” John teased, following her gaze to his sculpted abs.
“I’m just looking for more wounds,” she lied.
“Do you want me to treat you or not?”
“Yes, go ahead. I’ll stop teasing you.”
“Good.” She leaned down and examined the wound closely. The jagged edges were red and weeping. “It looks infected.”
“Doesn’t surprise me,” he said, looking down.
Charlie walked over to the fire and used the torn cloth to pull the pot from the flames. She set it on the table beside him and dipped the cloth into the hot water.
“This is going to hurt,” she warned, holding the steaming rag above him.
“Most of the worthwhile things in life sting a bit.”
“Then consider this very worthwhile.” She pressed the hot rag to his skin. He cringed and grimaced as the water seeped into the wound. “Are you all right?”
“Never been better,” he said through gritted teeth.
Charlie laughed and dipped the rag again. She squeezed the water and flushed the wound. John held his breath through the worst of it. After several rounds of washing, she examined the wound once more.
“I think that’s the best we can do for now.” She wiped the area surrounding his wound with the wet cloth. Her hand moved slowly across his chest, wiping away the dirt and exposing his smooth, tanned skin. She watched his chest expand as he breathed, his muscles flexing with each breath. Charlie glanced up to see his green eyes watching her, her own desire reflected back in them.