Lisa Orchard: Writing by the Seat of Your Pants

Hello Everyone! I’m Lisa Orchard, author of the Young Adult Novel “The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer”. I’m guest blogging today for Lisa Greer. I want take a moment and thank her for allowing me to visit you today. Thanks Lisa! (Love your first name by the way! J)


I wanted to talk about being a “Seat of my Pants” writer. That’s right. I’m a died in the wool “Pantser”. I’ve tried being a plotter, but it didn’t work for me. I got bogged down in the process. “Pantser” is the only way for this author.

There are some pros to being a “Pantser”. For example, by pounding away at the keyboard and plowing my way through my story, I get done quickly. That being said, this can also be a drawback, because I have to go back and do A LOT of editing. I don’t mind that though, I would rather edit than outline. J

 That sounds strange doesn’t it? I’d rather edit than outline? I thought so myself, so I put some thought into why and here’s the answer.

 When I write an outline, it’s like those are the rules and I have to follow them. I feel constricted, like I can’t deviate from the OUTLINE. J

 I love the freedom of being a “Pantser”. I know the beginning of the story and the end. I let my imagination run wild in the middle. I love putting my characters in situations and seeing how they get out of them. That’s the “funnest” part of writing for me!

 So take a look at my story “The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer.” The blurb is below. See what kind of situations my characters, Sarah, Lacey, and Jackie get into and how they escape!

 Just an FYI: the second book in the series is coming this summer! These stories are full of suspense! It’s a great way to get your teen away from the TV!


This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death. Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission. The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer, or die trying…

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**Lisa has graciously offered to give away one copy of “The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer.” Just leave a blog comment for her, and I’ll draw a winner by the 6th of June. Thanks!Image

  1. Lisa, I too am a pantser! My theory is that writing like that keeps me firmly stuck in creative mode where I want to be when I’m writing a first draft. Outlining and editing throws me into “critical brain” mode, and the flow stops because I analyze too much and agonize over details. Pantsing keeps me in the story. It’s a really different feeling for me when I write new stuff and when I edit. Other writers (Dean Wesley Smith comes to mind) have written about this phenomenon as well.The only time I outline is if I get super stuck. Now that I work on just one book/story at a time, I seem to be able to keep most things together. Pantsing on several books was rough, and I felt scattered. LOL.

    I think pantsing makes things fun, and it allows me to write a lot… fast. I usually have a beginning and middle elements in line and a vague idea of the ending. It comes to me as I go. Hooray for pantsing! 😉

  2. Thanks so much Lisa for allowing me to guest blog today! It is greatly appreciated! 🙂

  3. I think I’m a hybrid. I just write, but periodically (if I get stuck especially) I will stop and do a mini-plotting session just to know where I’m going. Though I do like to have at least a vague knowledge of what the end looks like, so I can find my way there.

  4. Oh, I love it! Another pantser!! I can totally relate to what you’re saying! I’m so glad to know another one! Pantsers unite!! 🙂

  5. I love reading about how other authors work the craft. I don’t think any two are exactly alike – we’re like those proverbial snowflakes. In the end, it has to be about what works for the individual…and I can say having read and/or edited works from both Lisas here pantsing obviously very much agrees with them!

  6. Ha. Thanks, Kay. 🙂 Whatever gets it done. I used to feel bad for being one way, but it’s good that we find what works for each of us.

  7. Thanks Kay! I’m glad to hear an editor say that! 🙂 I agree each writer is different and you have to find the way that best works for you! 🙂

  8. Another point to consider: if you’re uncovering a story and it’s new and surprising to you, it’s more likely to also be the same for a reader.

    There are some writers who can successfully and intricately outline. But there is also a lot of outlined work that feels linear with no revelations for a reader to discover, and the whole experience is only a means toward a somewhat predictable outcome.

    I did a post on my own blog awhile back on “Journey or Destination?” and I tend to see “pantser” writers as more likely to fill the middle of a story with interesting events. The downside may be challenges with pacing, just as there are challenges with following an outline method. But my favorite stories – and particularly the re-readable ones – are where the middle is interesting and it doesn’t feel I’m being taken on rails toward an ending and just filling up word-count to get there.

  9. I write by the seat of my fanny too! Us freaks gotta stick together 🙂

  10. I think if I did write fiction I’d most likely be a pantser too. Non fiction requires a much more rigid writing style with the creation and the construction. I think my mind flows more creatively when I just let it flow rather than follow a path. Your story sounds interesting and I wish you much success with it. S>

  11. Thanks for stopping by Matthew! I love it that you want the middle of your stories to be filled with interesting events! I feel the same way too! I’m feeling a lot of love from other “Pantsers” out there! In my opinion, the middle of the story is very important because it keeps the reader interested. The middle is where the reader becomes more emotionally involved with the characters! 🙂

  12. Like you LIsa I tried outlining then following it. Never worked for me either. I’d start out great then something would happen to one of the characters and I’d be off panstering again. The last thing I want to know is the ending. I figure, if I know the ending then my characters and readers will, and that takes all the fun out of not only writing the book but reading it.

  13. I hear you Lindsay! It’s so good to see other “pantsers” out there! I thought we were few and far between, but I see that’s not the case. 🙂 I’m so glad! 🙂

  14. Hey Lisa! I try to outline, but sometimes it’s all for naught! Tweeted and shared this post! Best wishes for a stellar career in publishing! Cheers!

  15. HA! I’m a die hard plotter. You should see my beautiful triangular rising/falling action diagrams. However, I do leave room for inspiration. I put major plot points along and then let the creativity connect them. Oh, and I LOVE the editing process too!. Fun stuff. I’m always amazed at other people’s processes.

  16. Ah…a plotter has snuck into our midst! I’m glad to hear you enjoy your process. It really doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you have fun! Right? Thanks “Rabid Writer” for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us! 🙂

  17. Thanks for sharing about your writing process. This book sounds very interesting.

  18. Yep, I’m a panster also. Though I cannot say I’ve always known the beginning and the end (at the outset). In my first several novel manuscripts, I began with certain scenes and built the book around those. NOT recommended, BTW.
    In the last several manuscripts, I’ve had a solid beginning but not much of an idea where it would end up.
    But, like yours, my approach involves a lot of re-think & re-do & re-write.

  19. I’m another ‘pantser’. too. Yes you can get stuck when you can’t ‘see’ your way through a scene, but as others have said plotting simply doesn’t work for me.

  20. Thanks for stopping by Jeff! Wow, it’s so great to know that there are so many fellow pantsers out there! I breathing a deep sigh of relief. 🙂 I thought that I was the only one! 🙂 I’m going to get your book, by the way, it sounds very it sounds very intriguing! 🙂

  21. My above comment should say I’M breathing a deep sigh of relief! My fingers are all “fumbly” this morning! 🙂

  22. Thanks, Lisa. I think you will enjoy my book … on two levels: the story itself and the rather miraculous true-life sidebars.

  23. The story flows much easier for me if I just write. If I get too many ideas about what needs to happen, nothing does because no words end up on the page. I’ve been uninspired by a recent manuscript, so I got out my pen and paper and suddenly new scenes were appearing as if by magic.

  24. Thanks for stopping by Joselyn! Another Pantser! I love it! 🙂 It sounds to me that you just needed to get away from the computer to write Joselyn! I’ll keep that idea in mind next time I get stuck! 🙂

  25. And the Winner of the e-book by Lisa Orchard, The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer, is… Kay Springsteen!

    Thanks to all for stopping by and joining the conversation! 🙂

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