Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Daisy Banks, Author of Timeless, Talks About "pantster" or "plotter" Ways of Writing!

Okay, it just has to be said: I love me some Daisy Banks! I will be reviewing her book, Timeless, on Friday. It made me want to buy a swooning couch so I could fan myself from all the fabulous romance in it! Daisy joins us today to share some info about her writing style.-- Mary Ann

I write romance, often with a paranormal or fantasy twist, and I try to give my historical stories the level of detail acceptable to those readers who enjoy the historical genre. Whatever I write I always try to offer readers the best read I can.

Like many new writers I have wondered; ‘have I got the writing process right?’ Sound familiar or bring back memories for those of you who have been writing for some time? I am sure readers will understand my wish to try to produce the best story I can.

In my efforts to develop my skills I’ve pored over many blogs and read other advice available both on the net and in print. All my searches to discover the magic alchemy needed to make my stories live and breathe have led me to accept this conclusion - there is not one right way to write a story.

I admit to being both surprised and a bit disappointed, but I was also entertained to find my way of writing, no matter how odd I thought it might be had a name. I am a pantster writer, a term that has nothing to do with underwear of any type. The name comes from the old idea of flying by the seat of your pants, winging it, heading out into the blue with the hope of a soft landing.

This discovery made me smile and along with images of raffish pilots, of stunningly beautiful wing-walkers in tissue light gowns and mythical creatures of the air, the term gifted me a kind of understanding. As I’d searched to find the right way to write I’d read of plotting and eager to take command of my writing I tried it. I made copious notes about the characters and their motivation, the setting, descriptions of where my characters started in the story and how they changed in response to the challenges they faced. The right stuff appeared in my notebook, and I only had one last step to complete, carefully put the lot together to make a story.

However, the plotting technique didn’t work for me. The characters I’d toiled over refused to follow the recipe I’d concocted. They threw non-adjustable spanners in the works, destroying my painstakingly built plot line or character profile with impunity.

Now, some of you who write may shake your head at these treasonous characters and say: ‘What is this girl talking about?’ That’s probably because you’re not a pantster writer. Nothing wrong with that at all, my best wishes and good luck to you and happy plotting on your next story. One of my closest friends and critique partners is a brilliant plotter. Those of you who nodded agreement at my wretched disobedient characters probably understand my difficulties and joys.

Being a pantster isn’t always easy, but I’ve discovered when it works, writing this way is for me a true delight. I am a stubborn creature. If I weren’t I’d have given up writing long ago. I didn’t stop writing when my efforts at plotting failed. I went back to how I’d first begun when the urge to write caught me in its grasp.  I let the pictures in my mind drive the story. Bliss, everyone behaved, apart from a few understandable changes that were character led, and when I wrote myself into a hole, the characters helped me out, because we were a team. The private cinema of images in my mind has taken me and my characters on happy romps through all kinds of situations and I’ve finished several stories flying by the seat of my pants. Those scenes in my head inspire me to follow their lead, make me question and before I know it, I have discovered a character, a situation, or a problem that leads me into a story. Sometimes the images appear with nothing more to prompt them than me gazing out at the view, other times they arrive in answer to perhaps a piece of music, a visit to a historic building, or a photograph. Some are gentle and I can chose to work with them or not, others are so strong it’s impossible to let them go. These usually become fully-fledged characters.

You might think writing a novel without lots of notes must be very hard work, but I don’t see it that way, not when I live so close with the characters as the story grows. Writing this way, there are times when I’m the heroine, or I’m my hero. I get to know them intimately, with their desires and foibles, their passions and fears, and so the process doesn’t feel like hard work. I don’t mind the effort I make on their behalf, even if I have to research something in depth to make sure it’s right for them, such as how the time for fashionable dining changed in eighteenth century London. I did this for A Matter of Some Scandal published by Lyrical Press. I knew my heroine Prudence would want her household run on the most modern schedule of the day and had to find out what that might be in the 1740’s, otherwise Pru’ would have been very disappointed and not the character I knew her to be.

I also find when I write male characters, and some readers have been kind enough to say they enjoy my male characters; there are times when the sheer power of those characters astonishes me. Magnus Johansson, who appears in Timeless, published by Lyrical Press is such a one. I have no idea how he got into my head, but once he appeared in the first pictures in my mind as he strode about the beautiful home he is restoring, I had to let him loose on the page.

One of the things about being a pantster writer and allowing the characters to lead the story is I’m not always sure of the ending. Being a romantic I like happy endings mostly, but in Fiona’s Wish, a 2013 CAPA nominee at The Romance Studio, and published by Lyrical Press, I found whichever way I tried to lead the characters they’d have none of it, and the ending followed the tradition of the Celtic legends that gave inspiration to the story.

My newest story, ‘Your Heart, My Soul’, out in March 2013 with Liquid Silver Books is my most romantic yet. This tale deals with love and heartbreak from the past reaching out to touch the life of two young lovers in the present. A ghostly tale with lots of emotion and I have to say the words flew onto the page as I wrote it.

Of course, not every story arrives with ease and sometimes the words prove nearly as stubborn as I am. When that happens I find it’s best to take a walk in the woods or down by the river, or work on something else while I wait for the next images to arrive.

I often have two or three stories to work on at the same time. Usually one takes precedence, but I have the others for the days or hours when I need an alternative. Some people might think there is a chance the characters and plots may become muddled up, but I don’t mix up members of my family in my thoughts, nor do most of us. I don’t forget the plot of my favourite movie when I watch another, and for me it’s like that with writing.

Once the plot of a story is in place on the page, the bones of the story are fleshed out, it’s then I can deal with the research I may need to do. The next part of the process can be painful. I edit as much as I can, I may rip out whole chunks to improve the pace, condense paragraphs down to single sentences if I think they need to go, and all this before my critique partners get to look at the chapters and offer me their comments. The process can take some time, but I think it’s worth the effort because the characters have become important to me, and I want readers to like them. 

The characters take on a life of their own through the whole of the critique and editing process, and if I’ve done my job as an author they live for the readers too. As a writer my hope is that the reader enjoys the story I’ve created, finds the characters entertaining and enjoys reading about them. If I manage to fulfil those goals I’m happy.

My current main project, To Eternity, the sequel to Timeless is close to completion and the final pictures to end this section of Sian and Magnus’s story are growing in clarity and power. The end scene is going to be a real thrill to write, the picture is one I’ve seen in my mind since before I began the story of Timeless and it’s very powerful. I should think it will leave readers eager for the last part of this trilogy.

Thanks to my hosts at All Things Writing for giving me the opportunity to blog about how I write.

Happy Reading.

Best wishes from

Daisy Banks.

February 2013

 Daisy Banks is author of

Your Heart My Soul with Liquid Silver Books to be released 25th March 2013

Timeless with Lyrical Press

Fiona’s Wish with Lyrical Press 2013 CAPA Nominee with The Romance Studio

A Matter of Some Scandal with Lyrical Press

Witch’s Mark with NCP

For more information about Daisy and her books visit


  1. Thanks for sharing your writing process. You said: "I often have two or three stories to work on at the same time. Usually one takes precedence, but I have the others for the days or hours when I need an alternative." I work that way too. And now that I'm publishing (also with Lyrical), there's usually a finished piece that I'm editing. It's hard work, and it's awesome. I love seeing how other writers handle plotting. Thank you so much for sharing and for your encouragement!

  2. I too usually have multiple stories that I'm working on. I'm glad to know other writers work this way, too. Great article, Daisy, and thanks for being on All Things Writing!

  3. Hi Daisy,
    Great blog. Each author's writing process is special to him/her. I enjoyed learning about your process. Timeless is a fantastic story! Good luck with the CAPA awards. I hope you win!

  4. Hi Daisy,
    I think your commitment to your craft is awesome.
    No matter how we get there it's the writing that matters and the stories we create. Great to know how a pantster gets to the conclusion and HEA.
    Do your characters wake you up in the night, demanding attention?
    Fingers crossed for the CAPA awards.

  5. I think your commitment to your craft is awesome.

    Great to know how a panster gets to the Happy Ever After ending. Do your characters wake you in the night demanding attention?
    Fingers crossed for the CAPA's.

  6. Great post Daisy. Can't wait for Your Heart My Soul to come out next month.

  7. Great post, Daisy!
    However you write, your characters are always delicious and the journey your stories takes us on is so much fun. :-)
    That Magnus... Mm-mmm. Lovely!
    Can we pre-order Your heart My Soul yet?