The Story Behind His Package by Penelope Bloom
10 Dec 2018
By Penelope Bloom
When I sat down to plan my most recent book, His Package, I thought about how nice it would be if I was someone who liked to outline. I imagined spending a few hours or maybe even days to get an extremely detailed guide for my book down on paper. I’d know everything from the way it ends to when the characters fall in love. It would mean I’d pretty much have a sense of whether the book was good or bad before I’d so much as written the first chapter.
Cool, right? Maybe not so much. At least not for me.
A well-plotted book is great for a lot of things. It means you can set up a really satisfying ending and a plot with a lot of moving parts. You can have twists and turns and surprises galore, and you can arrange all of it to come crashing down with the perfect crescendo at the end, all while having complete confidence that every last piece will fall into place.
When I first started writing, I tried to outline. I made a very detailed outline, in fact. I had every single turning point in the story mapped out and even used an excel sheet to map the approximate word count these points should fall on. That worked for about 10% of the book, and then something happened.
Every author I’ve talked to has a different process. For some, they absolutely live by outlines. Those outlines can be detailed spreadsheets with pages and pages of information down to how every conversation in the book will go, or they can be as brief as a paragraph or two to sum up the book.
For my books, I decide in my head how I want the characters to meet. That’s it. For His Banana, I wanted him to walk in on her with his banana in her mouth. For Her Cherry, I wanted him to buy/”steal” her cherry pie. For His Package, I wanted his package to end up in her mailbox, and all the crazy innuendo that would follow.
That’s pretty much all I decide on before I start writing the first chapter. I think the best advantage to writing this way is it lets my characters be real. I’m often learning who they are as a reader would be. I learn it in the way they respond to situations and the way they speak. The more I get to know them, the more I’m able to shape the story to fit them. I can put them in situations that I have learned will be hilarious or uncomfortable for them in particular. Basically, I’m not stuck to following a pre-planned plot that might not be ideal for who my characters turn out to be.
The biggest downside to writing this way is I end up having to pretty heavily revise the first 25% of my books almost every time. I rarely have a great feel for my characters until the story is farther along, and that means I end up having to go back and tweak their mannerisms or the things they say to fit the personalities I’ve learned for them. It’s kind of a weird process, and not extremely efficient, but I feel like it gives me characters that are living and breathing.
I have no idea if any of that is interesting to somebody who never plans to write, but hopefully, it was! Maybe the next time you read a new author, you can try to make a guess on whether they’re an outliner or someone who wings it. As for me, I know I’ll continue to write my stories on the fly, and I’ll continue to take the tons and tons of stress it causes me.
Also, don’t forget to check out my newest release, His Package. It’s the fourth installment of the Objects of Attraction series, but they’re all written as standalones. Considering this one takes place in December and through Christmas, there’s no better time to dive into the story!
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