Percy Chattey Books

Author of Thrillers: Genre: Murder, Mystery & Crime

Writing by the Seat-of-your-Pants


Author Tammy Kaehler describes the ‘Seat of your Pants” writing method used by many authors who prefer not to outline their books before writing them.

Interview : Author Learning Center Nov’ 2012
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I knew a few things but I didn’t do a detailed outline. I consider myself a “seat-of-your-pants” writer as opposed to a ‘plotter’ (or an outliner). So I knew a few things going in (to the book). I knew who the victim was, I knew it was a dead driver, I knew he was experienced and the kind of person he was. I knew why he was the victim and why he was killed. I knew the main character, Kate Reilly, the protagonist, a race-car driver, was compelled to be part of the subsequent investigation. And that’s one of the keys for a amateur sleuth is to have a reason why someone like a racecar driver has a reason to stumble over a dead body.

So I knew a bit about the victim and I knew my protagonist. I knew the setting but I didn’t know a lot of detail. So I started simply with those pieces and then sat down and wrote. And then tried to think what would happen as she (Kate Reilly) went along … and the story developed from there.

I remember one writer who talked about the structure of a new thriller novel and described it as three disasters and a resolution. Because it gives you a sense of, you know you gotta have the crime to start with. You usually stumble over the dead body early on in the story but then have some escalating events, crisis or drama that build up to the peak. Then you resolve the story, an explanation at the end.

Once you have internalized this enough to be able to understand that structure, the story is going to come out whether you want it to or not! And honestly that is about the only explanation I can give. I have spent a lifetime reading mystery fiction and so when I sat down to write this book I did some version of this structure without really intending to.

What came out was the kind of rhythm that a book like mine needed. I drafted the novel and then worked with an editor who suggest the story might need this, that or an addition. So then I did a detailed outline, chapter by chapter and decided I would add another sub-plot, where I would weave them in and add a few more clues in the book.

So then there was some outline and plotting involved but only after I had allowed my self to be creative and explore ideas.

» Watch the video on YouTube. Tammy has a website here: http://www.tammykaehler.com/.
Her debut book is “Dead Man’s Switch” about an up and coming racecar driver Kate Reilly, who finds herself under suspicion for murder just as she hits the big time.

“The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it.” – Leo Rosten

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