Lesfic author Lori G. Matthews discusses being a pantser and how she wrote her debut novel, #Cassinova.
My name is Lori G. Matthews and I’m a pantser. Don’t know what that is? Neither did I until recently. Sounds kinda sexy though, right? If you say it with a wink and head bob. Maybe add a finger gun. Here’s the definition of pantser in the Urban Dictionary: A person who writes by ‘the seat of their pants’ as opposed to a plotter, one who plans or outlines their writing. Describes me to a T.
How did I become a pantser? Or a writer for that matter? Well, it all started four years ago when I discovered fanfiction. I was reading Clexa stories and was struck by a crazy idea. I wanted to write fanfic. Confession Number One: I’d never written anything before. I didn’t major in English or Literature in college, which was a long time ago. I didn’t write for the school newspaper in high school. I wasn’t that creative, adorable teen who sat in her bedroom writing poems and stories.
Back then, there were no lesbian romances or LGBTQ fiction at the school library. There was no internet or search engines. I was stuck with dudes and maidens, and in my head, I was never the fiery maiden, but I sure did rescue her a lot.
But what I did do as a teenager was read books. Lots of books. Mostly romances, the kinds with dashing dudes and fiery maidens. Back then, there were no lesbian romances, lesfic, or LGBTQ fiction at the school library. There was no internet or search engines. I was stuck with dudes and maidens, and in my head, I was never the fiery maiden, but I sure did rescue her a lot.
Then, in my 30’s, a beautiful thing happened. I discovered Naiad Press, and with it hundreds of lesfic and lesbian romances just dying to be read. And boy did I read them. I still have boxes of books in the attic. Yes, actual books. eBooks were still a twinkle in Kindle’s eye.
So here I was, determined to write a romance starring my favorite TV couple and had no idea what I was doing. I had a fun ending, a meet-cute, and figured the rest would just come to me. Pantser away! Although I didn’t know the term at the time, so I probably yelled, “I’ll just wing it!”
All this pantsering was on the down low by the way. Nobody knew. I wrote during work. Being the boss helps. I wrote at night while watching TV with my wife sitting close by, blissfully unaware. I wrote scenes in my head at 3am. I wrote dialogue on my phone at the grocery store. Which brings us to Confession Number Two: I laugh at my own writing. I don’t know if that’s normal. But I really laugh. Like, piss-your-pants laugh. Once on the drive to the gym, I was sorting out the drag king scene in my forthcoming lesfic novel #CassiNova, and I was literally laughing out loud as I walked in the door. I’m sure Carol, the lovely older woman behind the desk thought I was a lunatic. She still managed to tell me she loved my hair though.
Eventually I had to come clean with the wife. My giggling on the couch was becoming a distraction. She was floored. Shocked, awed! No. Not awed. But she was shocked. I was hesitant to let her read it because she doesn’t always get my written humor. Maybe it’s because she reads books about self-help, self-discovery, corporate leadership, blah blah blah. I usually nod off when she’s telling me about whatever she’s reading. But now, the cat was out of the bag. She was privy to my pantsering, and she loved it. Every time I’d post a chapter, we’d both read the comments.
Which brings us Confession Number Three: I became addicted to the comments. They were a drug. Here were all these wonderful people, reading my story and laughing along with me. I connected with people all over the globe. They’d comment; I’d answer. I’d have entire conversations with them through the comments. Some began emailing me and laid bare their souls, describing their struggles to come out or their struggles in current relationships. Some just wanted to share a funny story. It was a beautiful give and take that led to some wonderful friendships. And I didn’t just connect with them, they connected with each other. In fact, two of them are now in a relationship. So I’m not only a pantser, I’m a matchmaker. In a roundabout way.
After the fanfiction was complete, a few of my new friends insisted I turn it into a novel. I was skeptical. “That’s nuts. Impossible. I can’t do that…can I?” Hell. Yeah. I. Can! Only I didn’t say hell, I said one of my favorite words that I don’t think I can use here.
So I put on my big girl pantser pants and got to work. Again, having no clue what I was doing. After a year of toiling away, I submitted my manuscript—all 127,000 words of it. Beautiful words. Golden words. Who wouldn’t want these wonderful words? Turns out nobody. I needed to cut it down to at least 80,000. I was horrified. “That’s like half my story!” Exaggerator. “I’ll never be able to do it!” Negative Nelly. After a few days of wailing and self-doubt, I tightened my pantsers and went back to work. I discovered that by cutting all my just’s, up’s, so’s, Oh God’s, then’s, out’s, by eliminating adverbs, head jumps, point of view slips—in other words, doing the things that experienced writers do—the word count dropped like a rock.
I re-submitted and #CassiNova was born. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. I guarantee it’ll put a smile on your face, and that smile may morph into an LOL, and maybe if I’m lucky, a LMFAO.
Drop me a line on social media if you’re bored, I’ll be sure not to answer you. I kid, of course. We’ll be best friends in no time.