Chris, thanks so much for letting me visit your blog! The release of Crossfire as part of the Men in Uniform anthology from Torquere Press has been a blast. I’m excited that two of my short stories are appearing in Torquere Press’s anthologies this year with another short, Showstring, coming in July. Before we get to the good stuff I thought I’d share some details of my writing. This time I thought I’d talk about whether I’m a pantser or a plotter.
Well, as seem to be most things with me, I’m somewhere in the middle. The first couple of chapters I wrote for Wrangler Butt were pure pantsing. I was winging it the whole way and just letting the story play out however and wherever it wanted to go. Well, that worked okay, for a little while. Then I realized that I needed to at least have a clue where things were going and what was happening in that chapter.
So organization reared its ugly head and took over, at least in part. I started planning out a few chapters ahead and at least putting the major plot points in each one. They weren’t much either. It might be something like “go elk hunting, have sex outside” and that was it. The story would just meander around and find someway to the end. One thing I do seem to find pretty easily is the ending. So I knew where things needed to end up. That worked pretty well, until I started finding out more about writing, and found some other techniques.
Well, then I went more than a little nuts and tried plotting out everything. Basically I wrote out a synopsis and then made a whole lot of passes to try and flesh it out. Not my thing. I drove myself crazy and the story sucked. So, plan C. Oh yeah, I usually have plans C, D, and E.
I began working through some story structures to see if they’d help tighten the story. So I tried the three-act play, MICE quotient, Hollywood formula (which I still don’t understand), and some others. So now I had a structure that wasn’t too confining, but that helped me tell the story I wanted, usually.
So, after a little bit of rambling, I can tell you where I’m at, at least right now. I map out the details using some kind of structure. But they’ll only be a couple of points at each turn in the plot. I have a pretty good idea of who each person is and what their personal demons are. Then based on the outline, I write the story. Sometimes the story goes in directions I didn’t foresee. But as long as it moves forward, I let ‘em buck.
That’s the combination that I use, at least right now. It’s changed so much in the last few years so it will probably keep changing and evolving. But so long as the stories are getting better, and I still sound like me, I’m good with it.
There it is, my mysterious method for writing. Which boils down to a combination of pantsing and plotting. Now we can move on to Crossfire and I hope everyone enjoys the tale as much as I did.
~ Jon ~
Rick Anthis, a forty-five year old veteran of the Colorado State Police, and his husband, Gabriel Thorkelson, a deputy sheriff in a nearby county, enjoy the peace of their suburban Boulder home. Until three gunshots rip through the tranquil neighborhood and Rick witnesses the kidnapping of his buddy, eight year old Jacob.
The clues are sparse until Gabe reminds Rick of something Jacob had said. Rick has a starting point. He and his CSI team locate the remote hideout, only to find the the kidnappers are gone, and Gabe is missing too.
Excerpt from Crossfire
Rick dried the last dish and handed it to Gabriel to put away. Gabriel settled the last plate into the white cabinets. He loved their house and the quiet, older neighborhood it was in. He hoped Mark and Rachel could work out their issues, keeping Jacob in the forefront.
Rick put his hand around Gabriel's slender waist. He's as sexy as he was in college. Damn just being next to him makes me randy. Releasing Gabriel, Rick folded the dishtowel carefully and laid it beside the sink. "Supper was great. You're a damn fine cook."
Gabriel snickered and spun to pop Rick with a wet towel. "It should taste good. Your mother gave me herbs from her garden the last time we visited."
"Mom's just trying to fatten me up. I'm kind of skinny for a forty-three year old Greek man."
The towel snapped against Rick's butt again and he grabbed at it. Gabriel danced away, his face lit with delight. "Where does that leave me?"
Rick swept Gabriel up and kissed him. "It leaves you in my arms, just where you should be."
Rick paused as he remembered the note in his pocket. Leaving his hand on the small of Gabriel's back he reached in his shirt pocket and fished out a small piece of yellow paper. He gripped it between two fingers and dangled the sheet in front of Gabriel.
"Speaking of, I found another note in my lunch."
Gabriel studied the symbols on the page as if he'd never seen them. "Huh, what do you think that means?"
Rick smiled. "I know what it's meant the last dozen times I found one in my lunch."
"Really? And what was that?"
"It meant I was going to be exhausted the whole next day."
"You don't say. Let me see that." Gabriel took the paper from Rick's hand and appeared to study the content. "Looks like Native American symbols. Hmm, maybe 'bear' and 'hunt'." He smiled at Rick with a glimmer in his eyes. "Are we going on a bear hunt this fall?" Gabriel reached up and tugged on the short hair coming from the top of Rick's T-shirt. The slight touch shifted his libido into high gear.
He nuzzled his face against Gabriel's throat and sighed at the spicy fragrance that curled through his nostrils. Rick slid his hand under Gabriel's shirt; the rub of his chest hair on Rick's palm ignited his desire. "What's the sign for otter? Because I think I need to hunt one of those little furry things." I still can't believe Mom gave Gabe my Eagle Scout pictogram project.
Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.
A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.
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