1. Are you a panster or a plotter or perhaps a bit of both?
I'm definitely a pantser. For many years, I tried to write books by committing the entire plot - from start to finish - to paper, and my books were overly short and lacked conflict and character arc. I realized that it was because my plotting had to control every aspect of the book – how the characters behaved, how they reacted, what they said, etc. I found it nearly impossible to plot a story without plotting the characters as well, and they were just pale outlines of people with no substance and no depth.
Once I came to the understanding that my characters could think for themselves and that I could let them make their own decisions, I was finally able to write a full-length novel. Now I just come up with a very generalized outline and let the characters decide where things will go. And, even though my characters are now autonomous and I let them do what they want, I find I like them better.
2. Which comes first - characters or plot for you?
I think – and it’s not just for the books I write, but for most – that the plot comes before the characters. In the beginning of the book, the characters are reacting to the setting and whatever is driving the story. As time goes on, they start exerting their will on the story, so as they grow in importance the plot becomes secondary to their actions. By the end of the book, the characters are controlling the plot almost entirely.
3. What are you working on now? Is this a book in a current series or something totally new?
I am working on another stand-alone novel. I was inspired to begin it on a cruise in October, and it’s definitely got an island theme going on, as well as pirates (both historical and modern-day) and – I know it’s trite – but treasure to be discovered.
I have such a difficult time coming up with a series idea. I commit so hard to my main characters and try so hard to come up with unique setting and situations that I tend to ignore the secondary characters. I am working on that.
4. Do you have some kind of object or place that figures in most of your books? I use gems a lot, hospitals and caves.
I am finding that water and boats seem to come into play a lot. In Love at Point Blank Range, the MC is a former Navy SEAL who obviously knows his way around in that area. Additionally, the setting is coastal Delaware, so there is ample opportunity to use the bay and the beach.
5. Do you write every day or just when the spirit hits?
I write every day I can find time in my schedule. One of the benefits of having a day job as a technical writer is that I have learned how to "sit down and do it" because I had to pay the bills. That discipline has given me the ability to sit down and start working. However, don’t take that to mean I like everything I write every day. Just because I write every time I sit down doesn’t mean what I write doesn’t stink. But that’s the only way I know to improve – write the bad stuff until only the good stuff remains.
6. Where can we find you?Website: https://jmschneiderauthor.godaddysites.com/