Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Plotter or pantser? May 3, 2008

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 5:25 pm
Tags: , ,

Image is “Flying by the Seat of Her Pants”, by Gisele


Well, the new story is started, and its coming along okay so far, with probably the least amount of prewriting for anything I’ve written so far! I can see these characters really clearly, in fact although I haven’t done a huge amount of character development yet, they are my most strongly physically realised story people so far. I have had an issue previously that although I have known a huge amount intellectually about my characters, they haven’t taken that final step of gelling into a real physical form in my mind. These new characters have a solidity and life that I just hope I can manage to translate into my writing.

 I’ve gone through this strange, confusing process of having a plot idea I really wanted to write, developing strong characters only to find they had too much story of their own to fit into that particular story, changing the story to fit them, realising that was just to complex a story for me to do right now, then finding the characters I hope will work in this story. I’ve gone around in a circle, to come back to the place I started, but with more ideas and different characters, who are stronger in many ways.

It feels a bit like I haven’t got quite enough plot to sustain a whole story now, but I think a problem for me is that I consistently tend to overcomplicate my stories and put too much in. A simpler plot where I can concentrate on building sensual tension and emotional intensity between the characters may be just what I need. Anyway, I’ll give it a whirl and see what happens. This whole thing is so fascinating for me. There’s the part of me who is caught up in the process of writing, and another part of me who is watching me play around with different ways of doing things until I find the ways that work best for me.

I used to think the problem with my writing was that I didn’t plot enough, and that I had to have a good road map of where I was going before I started. I thought that was the reason I had so many fizzled out stories which died after the first chapter. So I made myself plot, made myself work it all out before I started writing. It doesn’t seem to have worked all that much better, so far.

The story I wrote in January was a hopelessly confused mish-mash, half chick-lit, half Intrigue, though in all honesty it only had a few days planning, and was the first fiction I’d written for years. My February story for the competition may well be workable, when I have time to edit a bit more, but still has big problems.  It had a total of two days prewriting to start with, but then a loooooot of time spent on it half way in trying to discover how I could fix those problems. The April story never really got beyond the planning stage, as my planning just created more than I could handle right now, but I think it will work if I can find a series that accommodates more secondary characters and external conflicts  I tried to make myself do more prewriting with this story, but after half a day I just wanted to start writing, so I did, guiltily and reluctantly.

Maybe the sad but true real reason my other stories died was that the ideas just weren’t good enough to begin with , maybe it had nothing to do with planning at all. Maybe I’m more of a pantser than I thought. Maybe its okay to be a pantser. Great blog entry about this from a multi-published writer here, on the fabulous Wet Noodle Posse blog . Right now, I’m going to treat all my writing as a big personal experiment, and I will have fun finding out if I’m a plotter, a flier by the seat of my pants, or a bit of both.


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