Are you a plotter or a pantser?

L-R: Heather Taylor Johnson, Bronwyn Stuart, Eleni Konstantine, Maggie Mundy and Carla Caruso.

Our SA Romance Author Panel! L-R: Heather Taylor Johnson, Bronwyn Stuart, Eleni Konstantine, Maggie Mundy and Carla Caruso.

Last night, Tea Tree Gully Library kicked off its annual Readers Festival with an SA Romance Author Panel, where five local authors talked about their craft and offered some interesting insights into how they write.

They also introduced us all to the notion that all writers are either plotters or pantsers. If you’re a writer, (or aspiring to be one), you’ll know we’re talking about how you approach the act of writing a story. Plotters plan their stories fully in advance, whereas pantsers fly by the seat of their pants (hence the term pantser).

Turns out there was a 50:50 mix of plotters and pantsers on the panel! (We’ll let you work out who’s what).

Today we’re sharing some delights from each of the authors at last night’s discussion, which should no doubt get us all keen to read more of their work.

Big thanks to our SA author panel: Bronwyn Stuart, Carla Caruso, Eleni Konstantine, Maggie Mundy and Heather Taylor Johnson

Bronwyn Stuart – Author of Historical Romance set in the early 1800s Regency period www.bronwynstuart.com

On getting manuscripts rejected: I think rejection letters can be really helpful, especially when an agent takes the time to provide you feedback. You can use this to help improve and hone your writing, to ensure it gets better and better and ultimately get your work closer to being published.

How she writes at home: My husband puts up a fence that gives me a 3m boundary from where my kids play to the desk where I sit and write, so I have the space and ability to do my work. You have to treat writing like a business, if you want to be taken seriously and be published.

Carla Caruso – Author of Rom-Com Novels and Women’s Fiction www.carlacaruso.com.au

On writer’s block: I don’t believe in writer’s block, really. I think if you stop writing then it’s so much harder to begin again, and I am happiest when I’m writing. I tend to turn into a grump if I’m not! I aim to write 1000 words a day, and I always fully plot my stories before I start writing them.

When she gets time to write: I am the mum of two twin boys, and life has never been busier. I wish I could shake the version of myself before I had kids, who used to say all the time ‘I’m so busy’ – I had no idea. I try and write as much as I can when the boys are asleep, and get some creative thinking done. I put them down for two naps a day!

Eleni Konstantine – Author of Fantasy and Paranormal Fiction www.elenikonstantine.com

Spoiler alert – she’s a pantser: I am definitely a pantser! I find that when I sit down to write, new characters naturally emerge and come into the story and often go on to develop into leading characters. On one occasion I did the reverse and plotted one of my books and it was a complete disaster. I ended up having to rewrite it from scratch.

Maggie Mundy – Author of Dark and Speculative fiction. www.maggiemundy.com

On becoming a writer: I didn’t know I would be a writer. I was a theatre nurse for a long time, and I suppose I had what you call a mid-life crisis where I really questioned whether that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I’d always loved reading, so I decided to take the plunge into writing.

On the rejection process: There was a period when I kept receiving rejection letters, one after the other. I guess I just believed in myself enough, and also believed in the story enough, and I kept going, as I knew that one day, someone would say yes. I can remember getting an email in the middle of the night from a publisher, telling me they were going to publish my book and I let out a loud scream, which woke my daughter up. After that it seemed like all the publishers started to say ‘yes’.

Heather Taylor Johnson – American-born, Australian-residing writer, editor and academicwww.heathertaylorjohnson.com

The definition of literary fiction: Literary fiction is very complex and tends to be focused on reality, and what happens in real life, as opposed to genre writing. There is usually a layer of symbolism and the work in itself can be interpreted several ways. In the past I have given my literary fiction works to my mother to read, who has made a completely different assessment of the story I’m trying to tell.

The impact of the Digital Age: I truly believe that poetry and children’s books will be the two genres to survive, as I believe they are the most powerful genres that always touch people in some way.

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