@Archaeolibrary, @GoddessFish, @nixblackwood,
At sixteen, Liz had already trudged through hell and back. Having bounced from one foster home to another most of her life, she finally finds herself in a stable home. But stability poses its own challenges after a life of unsteady fooling, and Liz grapples to find a way to be still. Her past still plagues her in this new world. Everything feels wrong, she is at odds with her own body and mind, and struggling to survive. Liz finds an unlikely friend in Alex, a girl who may not share Liz’s troubled past but strives to understand, even though it means becoming a pariah at school. With Alex’s help, Liz searches for the strength to confront her demons, and the two see each other through addictions, transitions, and the dangerous consequences of coping. Unable to let herself trust and love, even in this new space with new support, Liz’s trauma begins to drag her under. Some secrets kill, and some truths fight to stay hidden. Unearthing them all will require Liz to trust others despite a lifetime of learning just how dangerous that is.
High school wasn’t much different than middle school, other than things being less sticky and more dingy. I’d made it through freshman year by the skin of my teeth, and now the daunting task of sophomore year stood before me, halfway accomplished. The guys were a lot more obnoxious, graduating from senseless teasing to aggression in order to fulfill their newfound need for overbearing toxic masculinity. I rolled my eyes as I walked past a group of guys pushing each other around, proving my point. At least I wasn’t the new kid this time. I’d somehow managed to keep up with the class and graduate. I'd made it through a year and a half of high school without being held back. It was still a constant struggle. When I got to my locker I squinted at the paper I’d been given for the code, bringing it closer to my face. Contacts weren’t cutting it, I really needed to wear my glasses. But damn, did I hate them. After a few different attempts I managed to get the right numbers and threw the books I didn’t need in. They made a loud slam as they hit the back of the locker.
How To Write By the Seat of Your Pants: Outline or No?
It’s no secret to close friends that I’m a die hard pantser. When I would write things when I was younger, I’d plan, and plan, and plan everything to death. I’d have outlines for my outlines. Each point in an outline would be bulleted with every individual scene. The thing is, that’s as far as I’d get. I’d put so much work into the outline that it felt like I’d already told my story, and I had no energy left to flesh out the scenes.
Flash forward to about three years ago, and I hadn’t written anything in years. I decided to take another stab at this story that had been in my brain since I was around twelve. Again, I started with an outline, but it quickly fell away. I only outlined about half the book, and just decided to start writing. As I wrote, I began to stray further and further from the outline, until it became completely useless in any kind of story planning. I kept telling myself I should go back and re-do the outline so I had some direction, but instead every time I sat down to write the words just came, the scenes unfolding themselves to me.
Now, I don’t even attempt an outline, and haven’t since that very first book. There will be a few key points that I vaguely know when they will happen in the story, but half the time these don’t even get jotted down into a notebook. My writing is completely intuitive, and I often don’t know the details of what will happen until I’m writing them. My stories are very character driven, and I like to think each character has a mind of their own, pushing the story forward of their own will. I’m just recording what happens as they trip their way through life.
I write in chronological order, so I generally don’t skip around to write random scenes. Writing as things happen is the only semblance of order that takes place in my writing process. Otherwise, it’s all spur of the moment and thinking about how each character would act in each situation. They’re in the driver seat, it’s their lives.
So overall, if outlining works for you, that’s great! But it’s not for me. If I’d stuck to an outline, half of my favorite scenes wouldn’t have been written. The charm of spontaneity as I can feel a character pulling the story in a new direction is something I wouldn’t give up for the world.
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Born and raised in New England, Phoenix has always been a creative – whether it’s painting or writing. From a very young age, Phoenix has envisioned and created characters, writing them into existence and exploring them through visual arts. Having graduated to first-time short story author, Phoenix is embarking on a journey towards novel writing as they finally bring characters they’ve known for years into the world. Phoenix is neurodiverse and intersex and hopes to bring more representation to both topics with their writing. They believe in creating relatable characters that people can find themselves in and empathize with.