Monday, August 13, 2012

Guest - Michelle Miles

Good morning all! We have the lovely and talented Michelle Miles visiting today. She'll be talking about our least favorite subject - plotting! LOL Well, okay. My least favorite subject but that's because I'm one of those 'Fly Into The Mist' type who envies the authors who can create the entire plot before they even start writing.


Back to Basics: Learning to Plot…Again
By Michelle Miles

I’ve never been much for plotting. In fact, I’m the type of writer than when I get an idea, I just start writing. That idea can be a character showing up in my head that starts to talk. Or a dream I had that tells the entire story from start to finish. Or sometimes it’s a snippet of conversation I’ve overhead in an elevator. Or a title that jumps out begging for a story to be told.

When it begins in my head is when it begins on paper. At least for me.

I realized that part of my writing problem, though, was I didn’t plot much (or ever) and then I’d get stuck. And stare at a blinking cursor. Delete large chunks of text that didn’t advance the story.

I’d been thinking about plotting for a long time, trying to figure out what would work for me but nothing seemed to fit. I got Break Into Fiction and tried the templates. I got bored with that after the third one. I had the, “Meh. Not so much,” attitude about it.

I tried note cards and writing down specific scenes I had in mind for the story and then arranging them in order of the story. While that was fun and all (I love note cards!), it didn’t work for me either. Anything too specific took all the fun out of writing for me and then why write the story?

I tried to storyboard. That didn’t work either. Another “too specific” problem that made me lose interest in the story.

What I did like and what did seem to work was just writing a blurb. A general, albeit brief, roadmap of where I wanted to go. But it wasn’t enough and I knew this. I still struggled with the story and got stuck. I’d waste weeks, sometimes months, staring at that darn blinking cursor. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling of writing and plotting. I wanted to up my output and the only way I was going to do that was (1) have more free time and (2) learn to plot a little.

Last summer, I was unemployed for about three months, which was great for the writing. In fact, I had a character show up and start talking so I allowed the muse to wander. I’d been stuck for a while on a couple of things and nothing I tried seemed to work. The muse refused. And very stubbornly.  I allowed my muse to write this story, unplotted, for about 30,000 words. Then I stopped and scribbled a few notes about where I wanted the story to go. That was good enough for the time being.

But then I sold my historical/paranormal, One Knight Only, available now from Ellora’s Cave. And I knew there would be a sequel. I had nothing done on the second book. All I had was a title, the main characters, and a vague idea of the story. One day, while everyone was away and I was home alone, I took out my Heroes & Heroines Archetype book and started to study it. I figured out who my H/H were, what their archetypes were and wrote it all down. I also wrote down two of the secondary, but important, characters archetypes.

Then I took down my 20 Master Plots book and read through that. I decided what type of story this was going to be. It was, obviously, a romance, but it was ultimately a quest story. With some Good vs. Evil thrown in for good measure. I did a little world-building, too, while I was at it. I realized something: doing this exercise gave me lots of insight into who my characters really were deep down and what my story was actually about.

Then I wrote a six page, single-spaced synopsis. Not very detailed but enough to give me a general roadmap of where I wanted the story to go.

Two weeks later, I got a new job. Thankfully, I had the roadmap to guide me and managed to write nearly 10,000 words on the sequel. Since my writing time was cut way down, I started writing during lunch and that sequel turned into a complete novel which sold this summer. I’m happy to say Only For A Knight is coming soon from Ellora’s Cave. Did I stick to my synopsis? Nope. Not really. But I had a general idea of where I wanted to go and I knew how to get there, with a few side trips along the way.

My muse has decided not to cooperate much with me anymore. She’s a fickle wench. But I’m forcing her to stick around, even if I have to tie her up and threaten to take away all her shoes.

I’ve yet to attempt to recreate this with another book. I want to do it, though, because I think it’ll help with my output and get me writing a little faster. This summer, I’ve found myself unemployed yet again, so I’m trying this tactic for book three of my knight series. But first I have to finish a rewrite. It’s always something.

Michelle Miles writes contemporary, paranormal, and fantasy romance. She’s really trying to turn over a new leaf and manage her writing time better by doing more plotting and less pantsing. To learn more about her and her books, visit her website at

About Michelle:
Michelle Miles found her love of writing buried in the fantasy books of Patricia A. McKillip and the beautiful romances of Victoria Holt. It wasn’t until her high school years she decided to take up the pen and try her hand at writing. She created faraway lands, space adventures, and even princesses who just wanted to be saved. Never learning to plot, she always believed that jumping in feet first was the way to go and has since become a self-proclaimed Pantser, writing sexy contemporaries, sizzling paranormal and sweeping fantasy.
A Native Texan, she loves hockey, baseball, drinking coffee, cross-stitching, and shopping for shoes and Coach handbags. Follow her daily writings and weekly guest features at her blog, Ye Olde Inkwell. Michelle is also a regular contributor to Pop Culture Divas and Plotting Princesses.

Where to find her:

Available in eBook and Print


A snarky Faery princess, a Scottish knight with a gambling problem, and a murderous earl all add up to one thing: Trouble. Maggie’s medieval education never prepared her for life in the Middle Ages!

Do-gooder Maggie Chase throws her thesis out the window when she wakes up in the arms of a hot Scottish knight. When she realizes she’s somehow ended up back in time, she embraces the persona of Lady Margaret. But she may be in over her head when she realizes she has to keep the sexy knight alive during a jousting tournament in order to get back to her own time.

Sir Finian “Finn” McCullough is a gambling man and owes a very large debt to an evil earl who is after his family estate. When the beautiful and outgoing Maggie arrives in his bed, he can’t remember tupping her the night before and thinks she’s a spy for one of his neighboring clans. He intends to find her kinsman and return her safely but he can’t resist her charms, her smart mouth or her sex appeal. Instead he keeps her close, taking her with him to an important jousting tournament—one he has to win or lose his castle forever.


“This is a dream,” she said aloud.

It had to be, right? It wasn’t real. Because it was the only explanation her tired mind would accept. Maggie slid to the edge of the bed, her bare feet hitting the cold floor and sending a shiver up her spine. Glancing down, she wore the underwear she had changed into last night—her lacy black bra and matching panties. But where were the rest of her clothes? Her suitcase? How in the hell did she get in this bed?

Staring into the fire, she mentally retraced her steps. The car breaking down, walking in the rain, getting soaked to the bone. And then the castle on the hilltop that was there and then wasn’t there. Yes, the castle. She glanced around. Was she still in that castle now? This one was fully furnished, it seemed. Whereas the one she ended up at last night was empty. And cold. And dark.

Maybe someone found her sleeping on the floor? She’d been so tired she didn’t notice when that someone had lifted her and brought her back to a warm bed. And any minute now that someone would bring her a steaming mug of coffee.

A groan behind her made her spin around, grabbing the linen and holding it to her bosom. On the bed, a dark-haired man she had never seen before rolled onto his back. He was shirtless, showing off every ripple of muscle and fantastic pectorals, the likes of which she had never seen in her life. Smooth, hairless skin with tremendous biceps and a narrow waist disappearing into the bedding that made her imagination run away with hot fantasies.

“Ooohhhh,” she breathed.

Who was this man? More importantly, where the bloody hell was she?

A soft snore escaped him and Maggie couldn’t stop staring at that beautiful chest rising and falling with every breath. His long dark hair spilled around him. And his face…


The word slipped out before she could stop it. His chiseled face hosted a strong square chin with a tiny indention in the center covered with a day’s growth of beard, a perfect nose, pronounced cheekbones, dark eyebrows. She propped a knee on the mattress, scooting closer to lean over him for a better look, amazed at how powerful his face appeared. Fierce. A man not to be trifled with. A man who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to get it.

Maggie cocked her head to the side, enjoying her view, a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. For a moment, she had forgotten the fact she was in a strange place. Her long, auburn locks cascaded over her shoulder and brushed against him. The baby-fine strands must have tickled his skin, for his eyes popped open and stared back at her.

Gorgeous silvery eyes met hers and she blinked and pulled back.

But he was faster than she. He grasped her by her upper arms and dragged her to him, placing her on his lap as his large, powerful hands gripped her hips. Maggie was completely aware of all of him now. A hot fantasy splashed through her mind as she shifted on top of him. What was under the linen was apparent between her legs. Every last inch of him. Her hands landed on his chest, her senses delighting in the warm, soft skin beneath her palms.

His gaze lingered on her face a moment before gliding down, pausing on her lace-covered breasts and then continuing his downward jaunt. He fingered the waistband of her panties, running the pad of his forefinger over first one hipbone then her abdomen and back again.

The small movement sent white-hot heat shooting through her, awaking parts of her that weren’t used to being on alert so early in the morning. Especially without a cup of coffee.

His hands moved up her sides then, desire evident in those depthless silver eyes…and the appendage on which she happened to be sitting.

“Now, lass, you best be telling me who you are and why you’re in my bed. Not that I mind, but I canna recall tupping you last eve and I always remember bonnie lasses I tup.”

His deep-timbre brogue purred the words and sent a delicious rumble right through her. She resisted the urge to shudder. She loved sex-with-stranger dreams and this one was starting off with a bang.

The only thing she did know was that she was in a strange place with a very sexy man beneath her hands, straddling his lap with nothing but a breath of linen and cotton between them. It wouldn’t take much for her to remove that material and get exactly what she was feeling.

But she wasn’t the kind of girl to have sex with a stranger, was she?

I could be.

Besides, this was just a dream. She would wake up any minute in the cold, deserted castle all alone. And then she would be faced with the problem of how to get herself back to civilization. In the meantime, she could do anything she wanted in her dream. Couldn’t she?

“I certainly don’t mind being in your bed,” she told him. He really was quite delicious. She ran her hands along the smooth skin of his chest and leaned toward him.

He grasped her wrists in iron fists and pushed her back. “You are the one trespassing.”

How in the world could he have the nerve to look angry at her? Maggie wrenched her wrists free and sat up, crossing her arms over her chest. She could play that game too. She was good at it. Sitting on his lap, she thought, gave her a position of being in control. She glared down at him, though even she had to admit it was hard to glare at a man that looked as good as he did.

“Maybe you should tell me who you are, then?” she demanded.

The burly man gripped her hips and flipped her onto her back in one swift movement. Suddenly her position of control and power was removed as he hovered over her, pinning her against the mattress. His brawny weight pressed into her. With one hand on his shoulder, Maggie tried to push him away but he quickly captured her wrist in his big hand and held her arm above her head, thereby removing any chance she could wiggle free.

“You best not play games with me, lassie.”

Coming soon from Ellora’s Cave

The Sword of Light is missing. Innocent Fae nobles are slaughtered. And now someone wants Princess Elyne’s head.

After saving her love from certain death, Princess Elyne returns to the Otherworld by order of her mother, Queen Maeve. But it’s not the homecoming she expects. The queen is furious she has been meddling with humans and imprisons her, stripping away her magic. The only way Elyne can get her powers back is to perform one selfless act.

When Queen Maeve sends Sir Derron to find the Guardian of the ancient Sword of Light, one of the Four Treasures of the Otherworld, he can’t leave without releasing Elyne. After all, she altered time to save his life in the human world. But freeing the princess comes with a steep price—he must take her with him on this dangerous quest.

Their search becomes much more than a pursuit for the missing Guardian. Dark Elf, Lord Kieran, rises to dominate the Unseelie court. He will stop at nothing to gain control of both the Otherworld and the human realm—he’s murdering Guardians and stealing the sacred Treasures of the Fae. Even with the help of Elves, dragons, and their human friends, the odds are stacked against Derron and Elyne.

Can they stop Lord Kieran before he slays the queen and tears down the walls of the Otherworld?

-- Lynda Again
   Hope you enjoyed seeing how Michelle creates her wonderful books. Stay cool and keep reading!

   Have a Blessed Day!



Hi, Michelle (my stalker buddy). Like you, I'm a pantser. Something generates the idea and then I begin playing What If?? I also know a story has an opening hook, stuff in the middle, big black moment, and tadah--happily every after because I write romance too. It seems to work even though I have to tweak A LOT! oxoxoxo

Joanie said...

Okay, I admit it, I love to plot. But I also love reading how others do it, too. This post has new info I'm going to have to check out. Thanks!

Liese said...

I find it fascinating how different writers write. I doubt seriously that two ever do it exactly the same way--or even from book to book. Some books come completely laid out--others have to "rest" a while before the whole comes together.

Great blog and great books!

Michelle Miles said...

Hi, stalker buddy! I have discovered that knowing the end really helps guide the story. We pantsers have to stick together. :)

Thanks for coming by Joanie! Finding my characters really worked for me with these books. I hope you do give it a try. I'd love to hear how it worked for you.

Hi, Liese! Thanks for coming by! I agree - sometimes the story needs to marinate in the brain before it starts to jell.

Julie Robinson said...

A timely post for me as I'm experimenting with what works for me---do I restrict myself with plotting or does plotting structure help me stay focused?

Thanks for sharing what worked and didn't work for you.

Devon Ellington said...

Tight schedules make it vital for me to outline or do a synopsis. The trick is not to overdo the prep, or my subconscious thinks I already wrote the book!

Sometimes I like to write three or four chapters in, and then sit down and do the outline.

Michelle Miles said...

Hi, Julie! I hope you find a solution that works for you. I've found that this actually doesn't work every single time. Sometimes, the characters are just demanding that I start the book first and then worry about the details later. ;)

Hi, Devon! Thanks for stopping by! I've actually done that before too, but I'm trying to get better about the pre-planning. It saves so much time in the long run.