Sep 21, 2010

By the Seat of my Pants by Shobhan Bantwal

I have tried numerous time to discipline myself, but after four published novels and two more on contract, self-discipline still eludes me. My attention span is shorter than that of a three-year-old, and my ability to focus on a single project is notoriously weak.

My writing life would be so much easier if I could only organize my thoughts and write an outline before venturing into writing a novel. Nonetheless instead of coming up with an outline I plunge directly into the murky waters of crafting that opening chapter. From that point on it is lonely little me, going off on a long journey with no map, no directions, and certainly no GPS.

One of the drawbacks of being a pantster is that when I go off on a tangent late into the story, it often changes the entire plot, forcing me to go backwards and fix a lot of events to tie into this new element. It is not only a lot of extra work but the chances of getting the facts or sequence of events wrong are very high—not good for an author.

However, despite my grumbling I must admit that being a "pantster" has its advantages: my characters take me to places I had never dreamt of going; they reveal secrets to me that add interesting twists to the story; they make me smile, and cry, and sometimes clench my teeth in frustration. They keep me on my toes.

In my latest novel, THE UNEXPECTED SON, my heroine is a stubborn woman, very bright, but lacking in street smarts. She led me to narrate her story in two parts: her teenage years in India in the 1970s, and then her life as a middle-aged woman living happily in the United States. As a naive young girl in college, she makes one huge mistake, then keeps her secret buried. But 30 years later that secret is revealed and suddenly her life turns upside down, leading to a bizarre chain of events.

My website, lists all my books, short stories and articles, contests, video trailers, reviews, excerpts, recipes, photos, charities of my choice, and contact information. My books are available at all major bookstores and online booksellers.



Shobhan Bantwal calls her writing “Bollywood in a Book,” romantic, colorful, action-packed tales, rich with elements of Indian culture. Born and raised in India and now an American citizen, Shobhan had an arranged marriage and writes about that topic and other controversial social topics unique to India. THE UNEXPECTED SON is her fourth book.

Shobhan’s articles and short stories have appeared in a variety of publications including The Writer magazine, Romantic Times, India Abroad, Little India, U.S. 1, India Currents, and New Woman. Her short stories have won honors and awards in fiction contests sponsored by Writer’s Digest, New York Stories and New Woman magazines. To read her stories, articles, favorite recipes, and more, go to her website:

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