Blog posts about the Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mysteries and their author Rabbi Ilene Schneider

A fellow writer divides authors into “pantsers” (who write by the seat of their pants) and “plotters” (who outline every twist and turn). I’m in the first category, which is why I sometimes feel as though I’m not moving ahead with my writing. I just added another 2,000 words to Unleavened Dead, but they were additions to an already completed (I thought) scene. Then, of course, I had to go back and add bits to earlier scenes so the newly expanded one would make sense. In the meantime, it looks as though I haven’t accomplished anything, except to move page 177 ahead to page 186.

To me, “plotting” would be “plodding.” I would get bored putting muscles and flesh onto the skeleton of the outline. I like the adventure of the unknown. (At least when it comes to writing fiction. I’m not sure it would be as much fun in real life. Or to writing non-fiction. Talk Dirty Yiddish was definitely planned in advance. I had the lists of words before I began to write the definitions or examples.)

I’ve tried to outline my fiction, but it doesn’t work for me. It’s a cliche for authors to say their characters “write themselves,” but they do sometimes take on a life of their own and lead me in unexpected directions. I told Gary a couple of weeks ago that I didn’t know what time I’d get home: I had to finish writing a scene to find out what was going to happen.

This “organic growth” approach can cause problems, though, and I can find myself writing my characters into a corner and having no idea how to get them back to the center of the room. Yet, somehow, it always seems to work out. As I’ve said before, I do my best thinking in the shower, and can be very clean when I’m on a roll.

I’m on a roll, so I expect our water bill to increase.

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