Lois Winston and her So-Called Writing Process

Welcome back to the Garden everyone. We have Lois Winston visiting the garden, we're glad you've decided to join us again. Before we begin everyone knows the drill; food and drink first. We'll settle in Rose House again.

Lois Winston
Author Bio
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Follow everyone on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/anasleuth and onTwitter at https://twitter.com/Anasleuth. Sign up for her newsletter at https://www.MyAuthorBiz.com/ENewsletter.php?acct=LW2467152513

My So-Called Writing Process
Writers are often asked if they’re “plotters” or “pantsers.” For those of you unfamiliar with the terms, a plotter is someone who plots out her entire book before beginning to write it. She not only knows in advance who her characters are, what they want, why they want it, and what’s keeping them from achieving their goals, she also knows what will happen in every scene in her book.

A “pantser” is an author who just sits down and starts writing, letting the story unfold as she goes along. She may have some idea of her main characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts (or not), but she hasn’t figured out ahead of time how she’s going to get from “Once upon a time” to “The End.”

I am neither a “plotter” nor a “pantser” but a little bit of both with a unique twist. You’ve probably heard of “method acting.” I’m a “method writer,” meaning I basically become each of my characters in order to write their stories. (Figuratively, mind you. This all happens in my head. I’m not about to go out looking for murderers in the real world!)

I usually begin a book by writing what amounts to a back cover blurb for my story. This gives me a general idea of who’s story it is and what will happen in the course of the book. Sometimes I’ll write as much as a page or two to provide me with an overall plot arc—beginning, middle, and end.

Unfortunately, I rarely follow what I’ve written because in becoming one with my characters, I let them take over. The result is they wind up directing my fingers to strike keys that may have nothing to do with that rough guideline I created. I actually prefer it that way. After all, it’s really their story. So who better to direct its course of action?

The Empty Nest Mystery Series
An homage to Dashell Hammet’s Thin Man movies with a modern day spin on Nick and Nora Charles

Definitely Dead, Book One
When her career is outsourced to Asia, fledgling romance author and empty-nester Gracie Elliott wants a job that will allow her time to write. So she opens Relatively Speaking, becoming a wing woman to the senior set. Since her clients need several hours each morning to find their teeth, lube their creaky joints, and deal with lower GI necessities, and they always turn in after the early bird specials, she has plenty of time to pen her future bestsellers.

Gracie deliberately avoids mentioning her new business venture to husband Blake until after she signs her first client. Blake joins the company as a not-so-silent partner, tagging along to make sure Gracie doesn’t cause a septuagenarian uprising. When Client #13 is found murdered in the parking lot behind the Moose Lodge, Gracie knows, no matter how much Blake protests otherwise, she can’t wait around for the police to find the killer if she wants to save her livelihood.

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Literally Dead, Book Two
After her last disastrous episode as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance
writer has spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors. First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference, normally open only to published authors.

With husband Blake in tow, a starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.

Hours later, when Gracie discovers Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to want Lovinia dead. Ignoring Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,” Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance has never been so deadly.

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Thank you, Lois, for joining us. I really love the sound of your series!



This sounds like an excellent series. I am also a fan of The Thin Man.
Lois Winston said…
Thanks for stopping by, Jacqueline. I hope you'll give the series a try.
I love Lois's Empty Nest Mystery Series. The characters jump off the page, and Gracie gets into so much trouble :)Your proof positive you should stick with your process, Lois!

Susan Oleksiw said…
Your process sounds very similar to mine. I'm mostly a pantser but as I get ideas I jot them down and pretty soon I have a vague map that helps me find the end. I enjoyed the Thin Man series, so I'll look for your new take on it.
Judy Baker said…
Thanks for the post Lois, Now I now what I am...method writer! I've never been a pantser nor a plotter.
Melissa Keir said…
I love letting my characters tell the story! All the best with your books!
stanalei said…
It's always fascinating to learn other writer's writing methods. Yours is indeed a method, Lois!
Lois Winston said…
Donnell, the check's in the mail. ;-D

Susan, Judy, Melissa, and Stanalei, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. In the end, it really doesn't matter which path we travel to get to THE END. All that really matters is getting there and having a product we're happy with once we arrive. Good luck with all of your books.
Mary Martinez said…
Thank you for visiting Lois, great post. I'm truly a panster. As in I fly by it. But you're right what matters is getting to THE END!

Thanks everyone for dropping by!
Ann Myers said…
Interesting post, Lois! I write the cover blurb first too, and now I think I'll spend the day trying to be one of my characters (but hopefully not finding any bodies on the way to the post office).
I need to be less pantser and more method writer. Maybe I wouldn't write myself into corners that way. The Empty Nest Mystery series sounds very interesting. I love the Nick and Nora Charles stories.
Lois Winston said…
Thanks for inviting me, Mary!

Ann, I sure hope you don't find any dead bodies on your way to the post office!

Patricia, being a method writer is no guarantee of not writing yourself into a corner. I've done that many time. Luckily, those voices in my head eventually figure out a solution.
Helen Henderson said…
I'd never heard of the term "method" writer before and love it. Like you I'm a Jersey girl (at least I was until this year). And my writing process is similar, part plotter, part pantser, then the voices take over. And sometimes they're even human voices (I write fantasy so I also hang with dragons and magical horses.) Synopsis first is on a sticky note above my desk. Begin here, end here, and in the middle, let's explore. The new series sounds great.

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