A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Guest Author: Betsy Horvath

Pantser or Plotter?

In the last couple of months I've been hearing the term “Pantser” floating around writing circles. If you're like me, when you hear this for the first time you immediately think that writers are going around pantsing random people on the street. "Hi, I'm Betsy Horvath, romance author. WHEEE! Hey, nice boxers." But that doesn't happen as often as you might believe.
After I dashed out of the hotel at the RWA conference in New York and pantsed a couple of strangers wandering Times Square, some friends pulled me aside and told that I had misunderstood.  To be a Pantser does not mean to pants people.  It means to write by the seat of your pants. It's also called "discovery writing" or "organic writing". Imagine my chagrin.
It's been said that art often imitates life, and I think that's the case here as well. I have some friends who are complete Pantsers. They just fling themselves over the cliff and trust that everything will work out while they’re on the way down. I have some friends who are complete Plotters. They plot and plan and strategize every single solitary aspect of a thing before they move forward.
I think of myself as a Pantser with trust issues. I'm a Pantser, but I have Plotter overtones. I have an overall plan because I like to know there's something soft at the bottom before I throw myself over the cliff. On the other hand, I don't take the time to worry about all of the pesky details before I jump.
That's the way I write too. I usually have an overall plan for the story or book. For my romantic suspense novel, Hold Me, I started with a situation. A woman is driving home from work. An FBI agent in trouble jumps into the car. Car chase ensues. From there I created a general outline of how I envisioned them getting to where they needed to be (the Happy Ever After).  A true Pantser would have forgotten the outline and just gone ahead with the writing.  A true Plotter would have had everything planned out before they began. So I'm a combo. I'm a Pantster-Plotter. I am a P.P.
Hmmm...that doesn’t quite sound right.
How about you? Are you a Pantser or a Plotter?  Or are you both?

Hold Me is available NOW from:

and anywhere fine ebooks are sold.
Katie McCabe's life is going nowhere fast when FBI Special Agent Lucas Vasco jumps into her car at an intersection. Luc, his undercover guise blown, is on the run from the Mafia and expects to be killed at any moment. What he doesn't plan on is finding himself attracted to the firecracker beside him. He feels compelled to protect her when her life is threatened, and insists she stay with him for her own safety.

After learning she has become the target of a psychotic hit man, Katie is whisked off to Luc's house to hide. Once there, she's shocked to discover that she and Luc have an unexpected connection; a connection Luc already knew existed, but withheld. Will their intense attraction reach flashpoint despite their misunderstandings and the pain of the past?

Betsy Horvath was raised on MGM musicals, old skool Harlequins, and Nancy Drew, so it should not have come as a shock that one day she'd be writing romance.  The biggest surprise was that it took her so long to actually buckle down and do it.  Hold Me is her debut romantic suspense novel.
You can usually find her at her website:, on Twitter or hanging around Facebook


Toni Anderson said...

Wonderful excerpt and debut, Betsy :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Congratulations on your debut, Betsy. I can't wait to read Hold Me, since I was raised on MGM musicals, too.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I plot lightly and then panster it the rest of the way.

Rita said...

I do like a 10 page synopsis first. mess with it until I think I have the story where I want it then write.
I loved the excerpt and your cover is great !

Betsy Horvath said...

Thanks for having me on the blog everybody! I'm so honored to be here!

@Toni, @Marcelle - Thank you! It's been an exciting time :D
@Susan - I'm kind of like you - I start with an idea, and then let 'er rip!
@Rita - Thank you! I wish I wrote a synopsis first. That would probably keep me out of some of the trouble I get into. LOL

MaureenAMiller said...

I was a panster, but I've calmed down in my old age.

I'm halfway through HOLD ME. Whatever method you used to write was the right formula!

Betsy Horvath said...

I don't know, Maureen. I think I saw you out on Times Square trying to pants people too. But that could have been because you were sleep deprived D

I want to be organized like Rita.

I'm so glad you're enjoying the book!!

Betsy Horvath said...

BTW, Marcelle, I forgot to mention that sometime I'm going to write a post on my blog about my unrequited love for Gene Kelly. I tried swinging around a lamp post during our recent days of torential rain, but all I did was hurt myself. :D

Wendy Soliman said...

Congratulations on the book, Betsy. Personally I'm a mixture of both. I try to plan, honest I do, but my characters refuse to co-operate.

Wynter Daniels said...

I can just see that on the streets of New York! Great excerpt. Congrats on your release. I am definitely a plotter. I must complete the synopsis before I go past chapter one. I don't know how you pantsers do it.

Betsy Horvath said...

@Wendy - Thank you! I often think that I SHOULD plan, but when I try to the characters just do what they want to anyway. :D

@Wynter - Sometimes I write myself into a corner and then wish I had an outline so I knew how I'm going to get out of it! LOL And I didn't pants TOO many people in NYC. ;)

Shirley Wells said...

What? You mean we're not supposed to go around pantsing random people on the street? Oh dear...

I'm a panster by nature but our pesky editors seem to like pages and pages of well planned proposal. I'm forced into planning but often the story changes along the way. I just have to hope no one notices. ;)

Betsy Horvath said...

@Shirley - Yes! I was SOOO surprised when people chastened me for pantsing random strangers. I'm a Pantser! I Pants! And when I have to outline, I Pant! LOL

Marcelle Dubé said...

Oh Betsy--you have to be careful! They do it with mirrors, you know.

Jen Daiker said...

This was awesome! Congratulations on the debut Betsy! I love guest author posts, learning so much about a person!!

Great blog!!!! Look forward to future posts!!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Hi Shirley thanks for your comment, Your friend has good taste.
I don't think anyone of us stalks him, I certainly don't I am a grandmother of 4 and happen to take holidays where he has concerts as it's a way of seeing the world. He was very good to me when I lost both my mother and husband within 2 months 13 years ago ,I don't stalk anyone.
Have a good day


Stevie Carroll said...

I'm a bit of both two. I get ideas about the beginning, middle and end, but then I wing it.

Shirley Wells said...

Hi Yvonne - No, my friend doesn't really stalk him either. She's a grandmother too and he was unbelievably kind to her when she lost her son. He sounds such a wonderfully caring and thoughtful person. A lot of us could learn lessons from him. :)

Shirley Wells said...

And for those of you who don't have a clue what this conversation with Yvonne is about, we appear to have mixed up our blogs. :)

Isis Rushdan said...

Congratulations, Betsey. Wonderful debut and I enjoyed the excerpt.

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