Friday, April 20, 2012

Mary Martinez: I'm a Panster

Welcome to my mountaintop, Mary. It's great to have you visit here today during the Mystery We Write Spring Blog Tour. 

Thank you, Jean, for hosting me on your blog today. You’ve given me a challenge! Jean has asked me to write something on the craft of writing. So here goes:

 Do I plot? Do I outline? Do I do a storyboard? None of the above. So how do I write? I’m a panster, mostly. My characters like to write their own story.

I’d gone to a workshop on plotting, outlines and storyboards and it was very interesting. The presenters (there were two well known authors giving the workshop) actually had pictures of the characters, their homes, their apartment layouts, etc. While I found this interesting—what was running through my mind was; When do they find time to write? Because it would have taken me months just to set up.

 Hey they were successful writers and I was a beginner, what did I know? So I decided to try my hand at plotting—the story board would never work, well that’s another story on craft. Anyway, I was going on vacation and we would be taking many trains, so I decided to plot my next book on the train rides.

 I began to plot each chapter, and after about four chapters—nothing. My characters, the ones that had been talking in my head and telling me to write their stories, shut up. Wouldn’t speak to me. And to this day, that story is still not written.

 I found out that I can’t change the fact that I’m a panster. I like to find out what my characters are going to do, just as if I were reading my story. But still these authors were successful and I hadn’t been published yet. So what I did was took everything that I could use from that workshop and made it my own. Kind of like when Randy on American Idol tells one of the contestants to make the song their own.

 Over the years, I’ve been writing, I’ve developed my own method. When I have that germ of an idea I open a file and name it background_Working title and write the blurb. This could be one paragraph to a page. And then I do a list of the current characters rattling around in my mind.  I do a brief set up of the town, if it’s a major city, I usually have a map, and I figure out where they live. Then I open a new file and start writing.  

 As I write and I get to know my characters, I write things in my background file. How tall they are, their hair color, eye color. Any little quirks they have. When I can see their home or apartment, I hop on a real estate site in the area, and find a picture and put it in my background file.

 The Beckett’s I actually visited NYC while writing the first story. I made my husband and friends walk the murder area. And I made notes for my background file.

 So what I’m saying about this is, you have to come up with your own method of plotting or outlining. Take a lot of workshops, go to conferences, do everything you can to get information on the craft of writing a novel, then MAKE IT YOUR OWN!

Disappear (Book I of The Beckett Series)

After two years undercover as an FBI agent to infiltrate a crime organization and discover the identity of a hit man, Tyler Beckett’s cover is blown. Tyler’s new assignment is to protect the only witness who can identify the mysterious killer. If only he didn’t find her so attractive. Each day it becomes harder to keep his objective, especially since he knows the interest is mutual.

Keira Cavanaugh is the only witness to a hit ordered by a crime boss.  The safe house is compromised and the same hit man shoots Tyler. Fearing Tyler is dead, Keira plans revenge on the crime organization. She must fake her own suicide in order to survive.

 When Tyler discovers what Keira plans, he realizes he must stop her before he loses her for good.

Disappear is available in eBook now at:

Print available May 2012

 During the blog tour Mary will be throwing all the people’s name who comment about the content of her posts, at each stop, into a hat for a drawing. She will be giving away to two lucky winners, one copy of any of her books (winner’s choice). Winners will be announced at the wrap up at the end of the blog tour, April 28th.  

 Mary’s web site:


  1. Mary, I'm also a pantser who only outlines nonfiction books. Outlining a novel seems to kill the suspense and mystery for me. I can't wait to read your book, Disappear.

  2. Wonderful blog, Mary. I especially liked your files. Interestingly, I started a photo file to help me visualize things when I write.

  3. Joining the choir, so glad to hear you're a pantser, Mary! I love the surprises ahead in each novel adventure! Great post.


  4. I'm also a pantser, and like you, Mary, I have a number of plotted outlines that will never see the light of day as a book. I already know the ending...why on earth would I spend all that time and energy writing it down?!

  5. Great concept, Mary. I am going to have a talk with my characters and get them to chip in on the plots. You bring home the point that everyone has a different way of writing. One size doesn't fit all.

  6. Thanks everyone for dropping by today. Sorry for the late response. Anne, I've never tried to plot more than once, that cured me.

    Lou, you're so right I'm so not a OS (I finally figured out that meant one size when I saw it on tags)

  7. I missed this one yesterday. Yes, letting the characters run away with the plot is my kind of writing.

  8. Another interesting & informative reading adventure. Thanks for your efforts.

  9. Applause from another pantser here, Mary, for saying it so well. I tried plotting and outlining and wasn't comfortable. My characters kept saying, "Get out of the way and let us do our thing."