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Tangled in World’s Largest Ball of Twine by Serena Chase

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Tangled in World’s Largest Ball of Twine by Serena Chase

26 May Posted by in Misc | Comments Off on Tangled in World’s Largest Ball of Twine by Serena Chase
Tangled in World’s Largest Ball of Twine by Serena Chase

Tangled in World’s Largest Ball of Twine

(and other dangers of writing by the seat of your pants)

by Serena Chase


Hello. My name is Serena Chase, and I have no idea what I’m doing.

This is how I introduce myself to a new writing project.

But when I open that blank document, hands shaking with grinning anticipation and not a little fear, I do so trusting my characters will take me where they want to go.

At least in the first draft. I’ll re-route them as necessary over the next few rounds.

I am in awe of authors whose creative process includes detailed outlines. Even the thought of constructing such a thing makes me claustrophobic. I’m what you call an “organic writer” or a “pantser”—someone who writes by the seat of my pants. And it’s a pretty messy business. My outlining friends have a method to their madness. All I have going for me is . . . madness.

For me, starting a new book is a little like setting out on a vacation with friends I don’t really know that well, with no map, no GPS, and only “Oh, I don’t know. Somewhere warm?” as the destination.

I start driving through the wintry landscape of the blank screen. I know that to reach “somewhere warm” I have to go south. Or maybe south and a little west? Or east? So I blindly pick one and head that direction. Pretty soon, one of the characters who’s come along for the ride shouts, “Hey! Did you see that sign? We should go see the National Mustard Museum! Next exit!”

Being a pantser, of course I’ll take that exit. I mean . . . an entire museum dedicated to mustard? That, I gotta see. Soon, my characters and I are having a pretty good time in the little town of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin—a place I never even knew existed. But just as I am about to find out how a cracker tastes when dipped in cranberry-caramel mustard, the sky darkens, things go a little green . . . and the tornado sirens to go off.

“What?!” I cry as my hands come off the keyboard and drop into my lap. “I didn’t plan to write that!”

Oh. Right. I didn’t plan at all.

I re-read the scene a few times and then take a deep breath. “Buckle up,” I tell my characters. “It’s going to be bumpy for a little while, but I promise to get you—well, most of you, probably—out of here alive.”

Finally, my fingers ease back to the keyboard. One strike. Two. Twenty. Seventy. Whew! We’ve made it out of the storm’s path. I can almost hear my characters sigh in relief. After I take a moment to make sure I’m still headed toward that elusive “somewhere warm”, I set off again.

And so it goes. Every once in a while I may pause at a scenic overlook to enjoy a spectacular sunset. My story may get a flat tire in a creepy wooded area, or I may glance in the rearview mirror to find two of my characters making googly eyes at each other. Hmm… that’s interesting. As the road unfurls toward my vaguely defined destination, I may pull off a particularly lonely stretch of highway to take everyone’s picture by a sculpture of a giant pumpkin, only to realize I—and my characters—have instead become tangled up in World’s Largest Ball of Twine.

Oh no!

Eventually, with some blood, sweat, and tearing-out-my-hair, that twine untangles and I realize that not only has a subplot emerged, but I have fallen deeply in love with each and every character on this journey.

That is how I write.

And because I know you must be wondering . . .

Yes, I do tend to road trip the same way. I have yet to experience World’s Largest Ball of Twine in person, but I have taken pictures of my family next to The Great Metal Pumpkin and we were forced to flee a severe storm shortly after sampling odd and delicious treats at the National Mustard Museum,

Yes, it does exist. And yes, it was worth it.


SERENA CHASE is the author of the Eyes of E’veria series (The Ryn, 2013 ~The Remedy, 2013 ~ The Seahorse Legacy, 2014 ~ The Sunken Realm, 2015.) She lives in Iowa with her husband Dave, daughters Delaney & Ellerie, and a big white dog named Albus, who takes up a lot of space on her couch and her Instagram account. Connect with Serena by visiting her website, signing up for her newsletter, and through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


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