Plotting by the Seat of Your Pants by Steve McHugh – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Steve McHugh will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Plotting by the Seat of Your Pants
If you ever ask a writer what type of plotter they are, you normally get one of two answers. They either have everything arranged and know what’s going to happen from one scene to the next, or they throw caution to the wind and see what happens. But there is a third group, the one that does a little bit of both. And that’s the group that I fall in.

I started my first published work, Crimes Against Magic, about 6 years ago. I’d just finished writing a book that will never see the light of day and decided that I needed to write something new. I only knew two things. 1. That the main character would be Nathan Garrett, a sorcerer and thief whose memories had been forcibly removed some time before the start of the book and 2. That it was going to be hard work.

I had almost zero notes for the story beyond a very basic outline and just decided to figure it out as I went. The first draft took about 6 or 7 months and was an abhorrent piece of rubbish, as were the next 2 drafts. I re-wrote the book 4 times in total until I found a story I actually liked and then I set about editing. That was another 4 or 5 drafts. I’m not sure how many it was in the end, but it was a lot and it took a very long time. In all, it took me 3 years to finish the book. After which, I decided to self-publish it and, to my great shock, it did well.

I knew that I couldn’t take 3 years to write the sequel, so in between editing Crimes Against Magic, I started plotting Born of Hatred. When I say plotting, I mean in detail I knew what was going to happen at every moment.

That whole plan lasted about 3 chapters before the book went off on a tangent and I changed a bunch of things. This happened a few times during the story and I quickly realised something. I was not a detailed plotter. Once I’d re-done the plot so that it was just the beginning and end with details about what I wanted to happen and roughly when, the story flowed a lot easier. I finished the first draft in 6 months and then the 2nd a few months later and that was it. The story was then edited, but that only took another draft or 2. It took me a lot less than a year to write book 2 and it was an even bigger success than book 1. Enough that 47North picked up both books, which were re-published last month, and book 3, which will be published next Feb.

I learned a lot from the experience of writing both books. And when it came to write book 3, I started with how I’d finished book 2. Enough details to guide me though what I wanted, but not enough to know every little detail. I know now that I like to be surprised, but still have that guideline to know where to go, even if I don’t know how I’ll get there.

I’ve just had my 5th book, Lies Ripped Open, published and I’ve finally settled into doing things in a way I find easy. There’s a structure, but with enough room for me to change things on the fly. And it works for me.

It can take time to figure out which way of plotting works best for you. Some people take books to get to a place they like, and some do it with the first thing they write. And while you can read about how other people do it, the trick is trying different ways until you get it just right for you. Once that happens, you’ll find that your story comes together much easier.

Over a hundred years have passed since a group of violent killers went on the rampage, murdering innocent victims for fun. But even back then, sorcerer Nate Garrett, aka Hellequin, knew there was more to it than simple savage pleasure—souls were being stolen.

Nate’s discovery of the souls’ use, and of those supporting the group’s plan, made him question everything he believed.

Now the group Nate thought long dead is back. Violent, angry, and hell-bent on revenge, they have Hellequin firmly in their sights. And if he won’t come willingly, they’ll take those closest to him first.

The battle begins again.

Enjoy an excerpt:

I walked over to the second agent, whose back was toward me as he stood a little further into the park, and placed my hand on his shoulder. “That’s enough,” I repeated, but he spun around and all of the breath left my body at once, followed immediately by pain as it exploded across my torso. I glanced down as a shimmering blade of ice was pulled free from my chest. It was covered in my blood. I dropped to my knees and watched as the magical weapon vanished from view. The pain forced me to abandon my night vision, and the darkness once again took control.

The overwhelming thought that bounced around my head was that neither of the SOA agents had been sorcerers. My attacker crouched beside me. “They interrupted me and my prey got away,” his accent was from East London, but sounded slightly different from many of those living in the city. As if he’d been away from here for a long time, and had not quite remembered how the accent was meant to sound.

I glanced up at him, still unable to breathe; the blade had punctured a lung. It wouldn’t kill me, but it would be a few hours until I was back to normal, and without my night vision I could have been staring into Merlin’s own face and I’d never have known.

The man got back to his feet and kicked me onto my back. “I should make sure you remember your time here, but I’m sure your comrades over there will be able to do that better than I could.”

About the Author:

Steve’s been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up ‘One boy and his frog’ was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A.

It wasn’t for another decade that he would start work on a full-length novel that was publishable, the results of which was the action-packed Urban Fantasy, Crimes Against Magic.

Steve McHugh lives in Southampton on the south coast of England with his wife and three young daughters. When not writing or spending time with his kids, he enjoys watching movies, reading books and comics, and playing video games.

Facebook | Twitter | Website
Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you for hosting

  2. In your opinion, what is the best Disney movie to come out since Disney’s Golden Age?

  3. what’s your favorite things to research or think up?

  4. Do you write every day? Do you have a word goal for each day you write?

  5. Laurie Bergh says:

    Interesting interview. I liked reading about everything involved in your writing your first book and how long it took. I’m looking forward to reading your stories.

  6. I liked the excerpt, thank you.

  7. Lori Faires says:

    Sounds like a great read. I enjoyed the authors’ post. Blessings and Thanks for sharing

  8. Kylei Tumey says:

    Great interview.

  9. LOVED your interview! Sometimes you have to just let the characters tell you where the story should go. I’m curious, how long did the editing process take??

  10. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  11. Great interview, thank you!

  12. Mary Ann Tumey says:

    I look forward to this.

  13. Thanks for having me on your blog.

Speak Your Mind