Adventures in Writing

Are you a Pantser or Plotter?

Prior to starting the Windhollows book series, I had never heard the term pantser or plotter. I kept hearing the terms in my travels and originally assumed the former was bad and the latter was good. This turned out not to be the case.

To start, a pantser is one who writes “by the seat of their pants.” They just start writing and see where the story and character development goes. A plotter is much more structured. They use outlines and typically figure out the beginning, middle, and end. And then you have people who are hybrids – those who use a mixture of both.

I started as a pantser because there was far more excitement to just go with the flow and see where my imagination took me. Outlines felt rigid and took the fun out of writing – at least for me. Although flying by the seat of my pants, I always had the main and secondary plot lines in my head. At the completion of book 3, Windhollow and the Axe Breaker, my thoughts on approach changed. You see, I have many plot lines that could be considered the main plots – those that are a big deal. I also have anywhere from twenty to forty smaller plot lines that are more character specific and less scale but nonetheless important. How was I going to ensure that I didn’t forgot to tie up loose ends and complete plot lines?

The answer was found in becoming a plotter.

Don’t worry fellow pantsers. I didn’t abandon the pantser ship. Now, instead of just writing, I work with an outline that covers the final three (or more) books in the series. I really don’t know how many more books it will take. It just depends on the pantser in me.

Here’s how my hybrid approach works.

With the upcoming book 4, Hammer’s Hollow, I have the first half of the book outlined. Just last night I finished chapter one and have started chapter two. As the mood strikes me, and as necessity dictates, I’ll expand on the outline as I write.

I find this serves two purposes. First, by going the pantser route I can keep my brain in writing mode. Consistent writing exercise is important to my budding writing endeavors. Second, by embracing the world of plotters, I can rest easier knowing there’s a plan. That plan might change daily or weekly, but it’s enough structure to keep things going.

Are you a pantser or a plotter? Maybe something in between?

Here’s a great link to learn more.

Happy writing!

—Trayner Bane


Fortune Cookie Musical Inspiration

If you asked me what my next writing series would be, it’s highly unlikely I would have responded with an answer based on a fortune cookie. But lo and behold, upon finishing this tasty treat, I found this inside:


There was no debating the legitimacy of a fortune cookie. This fortune cookie was able to pry itself into my heart and uncover my strong connection between music and writing. I grew a bit paranoid and wondered how the fortune cookie maker could possibly know of my writing ritual. I questioned if they knew that I pull out my iPad, put on my Bose QuietComfort headphones, then open iTunes to set the mood for my writing. If they could determine this, would they also know the artists that I go to for my emotional journey? I had to find out, so I opened a fresh gallon of milk and began eating the rest of the box. I had to be sure they didn’t know more.

Kidding aside, and some ten pounds later, I found much familiarity with this fortune. Music, without a doubt, plays a critical role in my creativity. Music sets the mood. Music evokes emotion. But more importantly, music is the plane, boat, train, horse, or whatever vehicle that takes me to the imaginary space as a write. It frames the mood and greases the machine of creativity.

Although my completion of the Windhollows series keeps me extremely busy outside of my work life and family, I thought it would be fun to share my musical inspirations with you. I’m thinking I’ll do a blog per artist and do my best to release one every few weeks. And I’ll also keep the focus on artists I listen to during my writing.

I’m looking forward to sharing and I hope you join me.

--Trayner Bane

Adventures in Writing - Glyphs

Putting together a fantasy/adventure book series as an indie author is no small feat. Aside from the time-consuming aspects of character development and storyline, an indie author is also tasked with the process of turning their literary work into the physical art form of a book. This latter half of book creation is when an indie author shifts from writer to creative director to ensure the vision of their literary work comes to life.

This week I've been working on glyphs for book three, Windhollow and the Axe Breaker. Glyphs are the icons that often go along with chapter title and provide the reader a glimpse of what is to come. To many, glyphs might not seem like a big deal, but to the creative director they are an important aspect to the overall design.

I chose the use of glyphs because I feel they provide artistic expression that links our mind’s imaginative world to our visual eye. But I also chose to use them since, when I was a young reader, I thought they were cool.

The process of making glyphs has been straightforward, especially since I worked directly with Scott Soeder, a wonderful professional artist I’ve been using for key artwork. He read through each book and looked for a key element in each chapter that stood out. I did the same. For example, in Air of Vengeance we found the DARC, a canister from the DARC, silhouettes of main characters and creatures, and over a dozen special items and places. Each one provides a special meaning to each chapter.  



Since the creative process can be fluid, you may find yourself changing your mind on a few like I did. After a round of modifications on a handful of glyphs, each chapter was paired with an associated glyph. The overall time invested was relatively low.

Do you need glyphs in your middle grade book series? Of course not. But it’s a question you should ask yourself as the creative director and author of your literary work. If you can’t afford illustrators to create illustrations for each chapter, I would suggest going with lower-cost glyphs. They’re a less expensive art asset and provide some visual interest to your work. You can even get creative and utilize them elsewhere.

--Trayner Bane

Windhollows is available on Amazon print or Kindle.

Air of Vengeance (Windhollows, Book 1)

Darkness Falls (Windhollows, Book 2)

Learn more about Scott here.