Jennifer Estep — Plotting While Wearing Pants


Oh, plotting. You and I aren’t the best of friends. More like casual acquaintances, if that.

When many folks talk about writing, they often talk about two kinds of writers—plotters and pansters. Now, plotters are just what the name implies. These are the folks who plot out their books, which can include everything from doing a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the book to detailed character outlines to creating storyboards of the various scenes/chapters.

And then there are pansters, or people who don’t do a lot of plotting. I am one of those folks.

Usually, when I’m thinking about an idea for a book, I’ll think about my heroine first—her personality, her strengths and weaknesses, her magic and how she can use it to defeat the bad guys. Then, I’ll think about the three big turning points of the story:

1) The first chapter that opens the book. I often think [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Plot: Losing Control


SHATTERING THE LEY: Plot: Losing Control

Welcome to my third guest post about my new novel, SHATTERING THE LEY (in stores now)! Again, thanks to Magical Words for inviting me.

As you may have read in my previous post about character, I’m an organic writer, sometimes also called a pantser. What this means is that I don’t have much of a plan when I sit down to write my novels. Usually I have a few “guideposts”—basically a couple of plot elements that I think are going to happen (usually something about halfway through and something at the end). But when I sit down to write, I let the characters take control. Most of the time, the characters end up in situations close to those initial guideposts. But sometimes . . . not so much.

That “not so much” happened with SHATTERING THE LEY. Almost as soon as I sat down [...]

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Talking to Myself for Fun and Profit



Welcome back Laura Anne Gilman (aka L A Kornetsky)!

We all work differently. The first time I heard someone say that they sat down and worked out all the aspects of a character, deciding who they would be and how they’d act [and, in at least one case, using an actual CHART], I suspect my jaw fell open, not only in surprise, but utter envy.

“Oh god,” I was thinking. “How? How do you do that? Teach me your dark ways!”

Because I? Am totally not in control of my characters, not even for a minute. Plot, yes. Setting, absolutely. But characters?

First, there is a voice. It may be quiet, or strident. It may not yet have an accent, or a particular point to make. But there is a very definite voice. Hi, it says. I’m here, where should I stand?

Oh hi there, I say in [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Character: Taking Control


SHATTERING THE LEY: Character: Taking Control

Welcome to my second guest post here at Magical Words! Thanks again for having me, guys.

I’d like to focus on characters, now that the main promo push is over. (You did run out and buy SHATTERING THE LEY, right?) As I said in the previous post, when I described the setting for LEY, having a great idea or setting isn’t enough for a story. The world of LEY had been simmering inside my head for quite a while, but it’s necessary to take that cool idea and make it come alive with the intervention of some cool characters. For this world, I knew that one of the main characters would have to be someone who could manipulate the ley lines that powered the city. If that’s the central element that makes my world different, I needed someone who would be working intimately [...]

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Jennifer Estep — Characters, Oh, Characters


Oh, characters. You are the reason that we read books in the first place. We love you, and we love to hate some of you.

Sometimes, folks will ask me which comes first—the character or the story. Like everything else when it comes to writing, it just depends.

In my Mythos Academy young adult series, one of the first thoughts I had was this: what if there was a girl who went to a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Amazons, Spartans, and Valkyries? What if that girl discovered that she was more of a warrior than she ever thought possible? What if she discovered that she was the key to defeating the bad guy? In that case, the character of Gwen Frost and the overall story and setting of Mythos Academy sort of came to me at the same time.

But, since I write in first person, [...]

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If Anyone Says They Know what They’re Doing, They’re Lying



L.A. Kornetsky is the mystery-writing pen name of Laura Anne Gilman. In addition to the Gin & Tonic mystery series (Collared, Fixed and Doghouse), she is also the author of the popular Cosa Nostradamus novels, and the Nebula award-nominated Vineart War trilogy, plus many short stories and novellas. Her next fantasy novel, Silver on the Road, will be released by Simon & Schuster in 2015. Learn more at or follow her on Twitter: @LAGilman


Amazingly, the good folk at Magical Words have forgiven the mess I left last time and invited me back, this time to celebrate the publication of DOGHOUSE, my alter ego L.A. Kornetsky’s contemporary mystery. All Month! And they said “talk about, you know, STUFF! Publishing stuff! Things you think people should know!”

So, okay. Here’s my first bit of stuff. If anyone tells you that they know what they’re doing, in this [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — SHATTERING THE LEY


SHATTERING THE LEY Hits the Shelves!

First, I’d like to thank Magical Words for having me as a guest for the next four weeks. I hope to bring everyone some interesting reads about plot, character, my crazy writer’s life, and of course point out that I have a NEW BOOK! Yes, this month marks the release of SHATTERING THE LEY, the first book in a new series being published by DAW Books under my real name, Joshua Palmatier. This first post is all about the new book, since it’s already on the shelves (with a release date of July 1st). So let’s all get LEY-ed! *grin*

Back in the 80s, it seemed like every fantasy novel at least mentioned the magical ley lines that connected the world, usually anchored at stone monuments, like Stonehenge and whatnot. Back then, I vowed I would NEVER EVER write a novel involving ley [...]

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