May 13, 2012 in Dag

Pantsers and plotters and plontsers

Today, the topic I’ve chosen to write about is something dear to the hearts of most writers. It’s one of the most fundamental questions that must be considered when you’re thinking about how to approach writing. And it’s one that I’ve had to answer numerous times over the many author interviews I’ve done.
The question is – are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’ve always found it a bit difficult to answer. My writing approach has always been somewhat in the middle. Normally, I would definitely think of myself as a plotter, in pretty much all aspects of my life. I don’t generally do anything without putting a heap of thought and consideration into what it is I’m doing. Often, I’ll write out long detailed lists, or fill sheets of paper with various pros and cons of whatever it is I plan to do. In short, I’m perhaps just a teensy bit on the anal side.

Of course, I’ve transferred this approach to my writing. I’ll usually write out detailed lists of things like chapter outlines and character descriptions, and I’ve even been known to map out exactly how to structure the dramatic (and also comedic) highpoints of my story – all the hallmarks of your classic plotter.

Except when I don’t. On the odd occasion, I have been known to sit down at my computer with no end in mind and just start writing. It’s how my first novella, Doodling came to me. I started with a throwaway line about the world moving so fast that somebody fell off and I just went from there. It’s also how I’ve approached the sequel to Doodling, which is now well on the way. Classic pantsing, you might think.

But it’s never quite as simple as that. Even with the pantsing, there ends up being quite a bit of plotting involved. As Doodling developed, it was threatening to turn into an aimless, pointless, plotless collection of random encounters. In order to take it from there, quite a bit of plotting ended up happening. Chapters were rewritten, new chapters added, and quite a few chapters were deleted, resulting in something that actually held together as a proper story (then again, some readers have still felt that the final product was an aimless, pointless, plotless collection of random encounters).

And when I look back at the other stories, like Flidderbugs and Magnus Opum, that were quite carefully plotted out, I realise that there was quite a bit of pantsing involved as well. With both of these, I was well into the stories before I actually figured out how they would be resolved. In Magnus, there’s a section near the end where the characters enter a labyrinth, in order to buy a bit of time on their mission. This was actually me buying a bit of time for myself as I still hadn’t worked out how it would end. Luckily things worked out in the end (for both Magnus and his companions, and also for me).

So there you have it. As a pantser, I’m really a bit of a plotter. And as a plotter, I’m really a bit of a pantser. That’s why I’ve had to come up with a third type of writing approach that combines the two. I’ve decide that I’m a plontser.

Whether you’re a pantser or a plotter or a plontser like me, I hope you’re writing continues to sparkle and amaze, and I hope you have a great week.

May 9, 2012 in Dag

Guest post by A.K. Taylor

Today I’d like to welcome another visitor to Dag-Lit Central. A.K. Taylor will be talking about how she came to write her books and the influences on her writing.

So, take it away, A.K.

The YA Saga Begun by a Teenager that Didn’t Die but Grew with the Author

First off I would like to thank Jonathan, the Dr. Seuss from Down Under, for the invite to share a post along the lines of “Stories that Stand Out”.

Neiko’s Five Land Adventure is the start of a lot of things for me. It was the first book I had ever written—period. I’ll share WHEN this happened shortly. I had a very early writing career, but when I wrote this story I decided on graduating up to books. After writing this book, a saga came into being and just kept growing. Years later, this same book is the one that started my published career.

Now WHEN did I write this book? I was 16 years old—a teenager. It didn’t come out perfect the first time I wrote it, and I made changes over the years of parts of the story. But, the basic storyline stayed the same. After I finished it, I started another book and another… Then I began to draw the characters and maps and color them. I have extensive colored pencil and crayon sets, drawing paper, portfolios, and fine lead pencils. I also have a notebook stashed full of notes and other secondary sketches of objects and ideas.

At first, I never thought anything about publishing. I mostly did this for fun, but people talked me into publishing (that’s a whole different story). Furthermore, most writing by teenagers doesn’t survive and make it to the market. Most of the time, they are discarded or hidden in a dresser drawer or a hard drive and never seen again. They are entombed and will never see the light. It may not be the best book I had ever written since it is the first story and the world-builder for a bigger picture.

Neiko’s Five Land Adventure is also illustrated—not on every page. I did this to show the reader and to be able to express my artistic side as well. The cover and illustrations are based off of my design and from my character sketches and put together by an illustrator. However after book #2 Escape from Ancient Egypt comes out I will need to find a new illustrator since I am not working with the company that did them anymore (long, toxic story.)

Escape from Ancient Egypt was also written by a teenager, but has undergone some changes after editing or something was unsatisfactory or inaccurate. It too has visual art with the written text. It will be released sometime this year. However, I have a stack of books that are ready to be edited and published and still writing!

All I really want from readers is that they have fun reading the books as much as I had writing them. I didn’t write them to be the greatest literary work that ever existed; they are just to be enjoyed and fun. I concentrated on imagination rather than literary perfection, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t edit the book or make sure an effort for things to fit together properly.

I didn’t write this book for grown-ups. I wasn’t a grown-up when I wrote it, lol. It’s for upper middle grade and young adults—but the big kids at heart really enjoy, too.

The plot itself is unique and original. It is based off of my own childhood adventures in the backyard and in the woods. A Native American secret society hidden in plain sight, parallel worlds, immortal evil, travel to another universe from Earth, are just a few of the surprises in this book alone. Neiko’s Five Land Adventure is just a piece of a bigger picture. There will be more than seven books; I passed that amount years ago.

Well, that’s about it. I need to save room for questions if there are any. Thanks for stopping by!


AK Taylor MG/YA fantasy/scifi author, artist, beekeeper, amateur scientist, gamer, blogger, marksman and avid outdoor sportsman. Complete chocoholic. Graduate from the University of Georgia with a Biology degree. Taylor lives in the backwoods of Middle Georgia aka the “Land of Pine Trees and Rattlesnakes” with her husband and animals.

You can connect with her at:

Book Blog:
Tip blog for new authors:
Facebook profile:
Facebook Fanpage:
Amazon Webapge:

Buy Links for Neiko’s Five Land Adventure:

My Book (mobi, epub, and paperback):

Amazon Paperback:

Amazon Kindle:;=AG56TWVU5XWC2


Blog Book Page:

**Also available at Sony, iBookstore, Kobo, and other retailers.

Want a signed kindle?

May 6, 2012 in Dag

It must be time for Writer Idol

I just want to start this post by thanking everybody who helped me out by supporting my giveaway event. All that tweeting and Facebooking and blog posting definitely helped make it such a great success. In the end, Magnus Opum climbed well into the top 100 free listing on Amazon and spent most of the 2 days at #1 for epic fantasy. It should also have been #1 for humor as well but for some reason Amazon decided to remove that category. Go figure.

Anyway, the subject of my post today is reality television shows. They’re definitely the big thing here in Australia at the moment and from what our media tells us, it sound like a similar story elsewhere. Our TVs seem to be full of little else apart from eager young contestants hoping to be singing or dancing superstars, or master chefs, or supermodels, or aspiring millionaires, or just famous for doing nothing in particular.

But, to my mind, there’s one category of aspirants that has been sadly neglected in the throng of reality TV shows. What happened to all the wannabe writers out there? With the rise of indie publishing, surely the time is ripe to create a new reality TV show – Writer Idol.

Can you imagine how great this would be? The guy who writes action adventure would go around, picking fights with everyone. The romance writer would be having a steamy affair with the big, hairy epic fantasy dude. The scifi geeks would all stick together in a little corner, conspiring. And watch out for the spy thriller writer – he would definitely be hatching all sort of plots and plans.

Not only would it be great televisual viewing. Just think about the effect it would have on the viewing public. Every day, in workplaces across the world, water cooler conversation would no longer be about insignificant things like singing and dancing and fashion design. Writing would capture the world’s imagination. Everyone would be talking about who split their infinitives, and whose modifier was left dangling. And as for typos – well that would be the worst sin of all – an immediate “you’re fired”.

And best of all, we could pit the highbrow literary critics, and the gatekeepers from the mainstream publishing industry, with the true voice of the audience in the most public way possible – a great chance to show how out of touch they really are.

So let’s not just sit around, waiting for it to happen. Let’s all get on the phone to the networks, and bombard their emails and Facebook pages. The time for Writer Idol has definitely come.

I reckon it will be a winner.

May 3, 2012 in Dag

A little piece of Magnus Opum for the price of a cup of nothing

Today is the big day. It’s a momentous event. People are holding their breath. The whole world is coming to a stop as it waits expectantly.

Okay – it might not be quite as big as that, but it is a kind of important day for me. This Thursday and Friday, I will be giving away free copies of my ebook, Magnus Opum. You pay nothing. Zero, zilch, nada. A great big duck’s egg.

So what is exactly is Magnus Opum? You might think of it as a slightly skewed epic fantasy – Tolkien with a twist. It’s a fantasy story for people who don’t generally read fantasy stories, but it’s also a fantasy story for people who do. And like any good fantasy story, it’s full of adventures and sword fights and all sorts of derring-do. But it’s also full of laughs and unexpected surprises. Not to mention a fair share of silly poems.

Readers have already described Magnus Opum as “totally magical, brimming with imagination and fantasy, and entertaining from start to finish,” and, “a master work of both parody AND satire rolled into an easy-to-read family-friendly story.” Comparisons have been made with Lewis Carroll and Terry Pratchett.

So don’t be the one to miss out on the fun. Go to  and grab a copy of Magnus Opum for the price of a big cup of nothing.

You’d be a seldom seen but much discussed diperagoff if you missed out. 

April 28, 2012 in Dag

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam (and just a few baked beans)

My post today is about spam.

We all know what it is. We all hate it. All those annoying ads and emails for watches and pills and Russian brides and other things that this blog is much too clean to begin talking about. Not to mention the very worst form of spam of all – the never-ending “buy my book, buy my book” of all those self-published authors out there.

But how many of you out there actually know the origin of the term? Why on earth do we use the name of a type of tinned ham to refer to unsolicited and unwanted electronic communications?

Well, if you don’t know the answer, today is your lucky day. Because Dag-Lit Central is not just a source for entertainment. We also aim to be educational. So now, I present to you, the actual video clip which inspired the use of the word “spam” to refer to any and all unwelcome electronic intrusions. Enjoy.


Of course, this is Monty Python doing their spam sketch – this sketch provided the inspiration for the term “spamming”, referring to the overwhelming of any type of conversation with useless gibberish, and the word “spam” to refer to that gibberish.

You have to admit it. There is some kind of genius at work here. Who else could come up with an idea like a cafe that serves dishes containing little else apart from spam, into which people are lowered into their chairs via ropes, and which is full of singing Vikings. Where ideas like that come from, I have no idea.

But the thing that really gets me about this whole story is how something that was created several decades ago has evolved and adapted in such a way that it has now become part of our popular culture and lexicon. I think that’s an amazing thing.

Like any writer, I often wonder whether anything I create could end up taking on a similar life of its own. Maybe one day, people will say they are having a Neville Lansdowne moment when they feel that things are happening too quickly for them. Or political commentators may describe a particularly pointless debate as “3 points vs 4 points”, just like the Flidderbugs. I reckon that would make my day.

Then again, it most likely won’t ever happen – or if it did, it would be in a way I would never be able to predict, just as the Monty Python people couldn’t have known the result of their extremely silly and possibly quite pointless spam sketch.

So, till next time, have a spam spam spam fantastic spam week.