Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jessa Russo, Author of DIVIDE, talks about her writing style

So glad Jessa Russo can stop on by today. Welcome, Jessa!

“My Writing Style: Plotter or Pantser?” 

I’m often asked the question—as most of us probably are—of what my writing style is. Am I a plotter, paving my way with outlines and story arcs, character write-ups and plans? Or am I a pantser—a ‘fly by the seat of my pants, go with the flow, write it all out and hope for the best’ kind of girl?

The simple answer: pantser. And proud of it. *grin*

I honestly just sit down and write. My “motto” is Just Write. (Pretty hard one to remember, huh? So much so that I tattooed it on my arm. Lol!)

But seriously, just write. Write until the words come. Because they will, if only you sit back and let them.

When I sat down in 2010 (2009?) to write EVER, I had a barebones idea: a girl who lived with a houseful of ghosts. Over many months and a gazillion revisions (don’t even get me started on what that first draft looked like, ugh!), that house full of ghosts dwindled down to just one: the ghost of Ever’s best friend and secret love. But I didn’t have the storyline to go with that idea, just the characters. And, truth be told, even Ever and Frankie morphed and changed as I trucked along in that world, though Frankie always remained a greaser from the 1950’s, even when he wasn’t.

With DIVIDE, I sat down on November 1, 2012, for my very first attempt at NaNoWriMo, my full intention to finish fleshing out EVADE: Book Two of The Ever Trilogy. Instead, and much to my surprise, the story of Holland Briggs flowed out onto the page—for no other reason than the simple fact that those were the words that needed to be written at that moment, and that was the story I had to tell right then. I knew I wanted to gender flip Beauty and the Beast, and I wanted to do it in such a way that our beautiful ‘Beauty’, main character Holland, wasn’t just a simple reproduction of the perfect, kind, flawless and aesthetically pleasing heroine. I wanted there to be some darkness, some form of a beast within, something that signified, even just a little, the truth that beauty is only skin deep, and we never know what may be lurking beneath the surface. Although, in this case, Holland isn’t result a monster, and has no control over what’s happening to her, but I’m getting off topic. DIVIDE was nearly completed by the end of November—side note: something I adore about NaNoWriMo is the discipline it forces us pansters to have, even, and possibly more specifically, in the case of already published authors—and by April DIVIDE was out on submission and entering contests. Without a plot or outline to be found.

Eventually, I finished the second book in The Ever Trilogy, and, much to the chagrin of fans of that series, I’m going to tell you all that I have no idea how that series will end. Because when I sat down to finish it, I wrote ARK OF DREAMS (my Noah’s Ark redux), and then later, CHLORINE & CHAOS (my erotic romance, writing as Parker Jameson).

So that’s the flaw of the pantser, or at least, the flaw of this pantser. I have every intention of doing one thing, but often, my words take me somewhere completely different. I mean, contemporary erotic romance? Who knew? Certainly not this YA writer. *blushes*

But there it is. I wrote. I followed the words. I let the stories tell themselves, allowed the characters to forge their own paths, and here I am. Forever a panster, and not seeing that changing anytime soon. Because in my case—and only mine, as I don’t speak for other writers—the second I try to rein it in and put some order to the chaos, I lose my way and just end up writing again.

Because that’s what I do. I just write.

So whether you plot or pants or have developed some awesome combination of the two, just do what you do. Just let the words come.

Just Write.

Nicole here: I'm 95% pantser too! Pantsers unite!

From senior class president to dejected social outcast, with just the flick of a match.

After accusations of torching her ex-boyfriend’s home are followed by the mysterious poisoning of her ex-best friend, seventeen-year-old Holland Briggs assumes her life is over. And it is. But not in the way she thinks.

As Holland learns the truth about her cursed fate—that she is descended from the Beast most have only ever heard of in fairytales—she unites with an unlikely ally, good-looking newcomer Mick Stevenson. 

Mick knows more about Holland’s twisted history than she does, and enlightening as it is to learn about, his suggestion for a cure is unsettling at best. Holland must fall in love with Mick in order to break the spell, and save their future generations from repeating her cursed fate. Having sworn off love after the betrayals of her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, this may be difficult to accomplish. 

Complicating things further for Holland and Mick, time runs out, and Holland’s change begins way before schedule. With Holland quickly morphing into a dangerous mythical creature, Mick struggles to save her.

Should they fail, Holland will be lost to the beast inside her forever.


Angela Brown said...

Sometimes you just have to write the story that screams the loudest to be heard. Congrats to Jessa for "just writing" and giving voice to the characters.

Cher Green said...

Now Jessa, you make it sound so easy. I'm a pantser, who tried to convert to plotter. Now I'm stuck somewhere in between. Thanks for sharing your writing style. :)

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

Lol, Cher! I'd bet it was easy until you started trying to plot, right? ;-) Plotting always screws me up. I swear its the other side of my brain--the side that no worky. haha

Thank you, Angela!!