Monday, January 9, 2012

Pondering Process

I'm still learning a lot about my writing process.

I didn't like the process I went through with the book I just finished. I drafted during NaNoWriMo. I didn't have much of a plan, but these scenes between these characters just poured out of me. But at the end I didn't actually have a story, I just had 50,000+ words of scenes between these characters. I spent about a year and a half (off and on) after that completely re-writing the scenes and adding a plot to their story. Then I revised, revised, revised, adding more plot.

This was a headache. I didn't want to do this again. It took too long.

I decided this must mean I'm a plotter. I need to outline before hand so I don't spend so much time going back into my ms and adding in the plot after the fact. So much time will be saved! So many words would be saved!

So I tried that with this NaNoWriMo. I outlined. I plotted and when it came time to start the story...I froze. Nothing I outlined was really working. I tried and tried to stay on the outline, but the words just wouldn't come. Finishing NaNo was painful. I wanted to finish that draft after November, but I didn't think I would be able to make it into what I wanted it to be just yet (I have some ambitious goals for my MC, and I'm not sure I'm good enough to pull them off at this point), so I decided to let it simmer for awhile.

I decided to start a new ms. I outlined. I plotted. I started writing it and...eh. It was okay, but getting words out was difficult.

Then something popped in my head the other day and I opened a doc just to get it down, so I could go back to it when I was done with this thing I was working on. But things kept popping in my head, so I kept opening the doc and adding things. Then I was like, "Aw, hell, let me just type up this scene I thought of really quick." And before I knew what happened, I had a new Scrivener binder saved with notes and a scene. And now, only a few days later, I have close to 10K words written on this thing that came out of the blue and that I most definitely did not outline or plan.

So...is this how I do things? Because out of this 10K words there is only a shred of a plot, and nothing that could carry an entire book. Am I going to write 50K words of these characters having a conversation before I go back and add in something actually happening, like I did the first time? Is this going to take me eons to write because I have to keep going back and adding/figuring out plot?

DEAR GOD, IS THIS MY PROCESS?!

On one hand, I am sad to think that this is how I do things, because it's frustrating. On the other hand, I am loving the hell out of these characters, and, just like with the first one, the words are just pouring out. I'm thinking about the story non-stop, and I have that fluttery first love feeling in my stomach. I love both my NaNo idea and the other idea I outlined, but NOT LIKE THIS.

So I guess I'll just work on this like crazy and see where it takes me. Shoot...maybe I am a pantser after all.

18 comments:

  1. I've tried both ways before I was comfortable with one over the other. I'm more of a panster, but I can't write a story not knowing the ending and I need to sorta outline each chapter right before I write it. Its a process that works for me, but not for everyone.

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  2. HA! Oh man, I feel you on this. But if the words are flowing, go with it!!

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  3. I'm a plotter with pant-ish tendencies. I plot the main scenes that pop into my head, usually 15 or so and then everything else is pants. I'm also not a linear writer. I write whatever scene comes to me first. It might be the end, it might be the middle, or the beginning. Then I just shuffle them all together.

    I'm glad you found something that works!!

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  4. I'm a total panster. For me half the excitement is not knowing what's coming next. :) haha.

    Though, yes, that does leave us with a few holes when we hit 'the end'.

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  5. Very interesting. A panster wishing to be a plotter. (I wish it too) I feel as long as you are loving it, embrace it. And good luck. :)

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  6. I've done both, too--panster and plotter. But I find my books have far better structure with plotting. Of course, even with plotting, my characters lead me down different paths, which is fine, too. If you feel a passion for what you're working on, I say go with it!

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  7. I'm a panster. Every time I try to plot out a story before I begin I get bored, or my characters decide to basically give me the finger and go in a complete and total opposite directions. I love the spontaneity with being a panster. It keeps it fun.

    Good luck with your new WIP.

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  8. Maybe you're a plot-antser. It certainly sounds like it! I'm definitely a panster. Even if I have a brief outline, the words come when they come and I just go along with it.

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  9. THANK YOU! someone finally wrote into words what I am feeling. I am a pantser, constantly trying to write myself into a plot, but that's because a plot never comes to me until the words are flowing.

    I have written the same book three times because of this problem, if truth be told (the scenes are just a bunch of stuff of my characters talking and being threatening (which I didn't figure out but had to have my Dream Agent TELL me). so I outlined the new version, got about 10K in and was like, this is bullshit, let's go to a country club and went totally off script after that and somehow wrote myself into a plot and am now revising the first half to match that.

    trust me, you're right, this is the shittiest process ever (sorry for the longest comment ever)

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  10. I want to be a plotter SO BADLY. But... I'm just not. And to be perfectly honest, I think that us pantsers have the rougher end of the stick! I love the idea of the project that I have for my "Camp Wordsmith" blog-a-thon, but I have only ideas for where it's heading. We shall see. And good luck with your new project!

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  11. I want to be a plotter SO BADLY. But... I'm just not. And to be perfectly honest, I think that us pantsers have the rougher end of the stick! I love the idea of the project that I have for my "Camp Wordsmith" blog-a-thon, but I have only ideas for where it's heading. We shall see. And good luck with your new project!

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  12. With both NaNo 2010 and NaNo 2011 I am learning that I am a bit of both. I start with a plot, but as I go along new things just pour out of my fingers...sometimes they fit within the plot and sometimes they change the plot's direction.

    I haven't even checked my plot spreadsheet for my current WIP in a while...the words are coming pretty smoothly so I'm just letting them come on their own.

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  13. I've tried both ways too. I want to be a plotter because editing my crazy draft is well, crazy. But, every time I try outlines and index cards and big poster boards with scenes . . . I am left with a bunch of outlines, index cards and scenes that I don't know what to do with. I can't write with it. So I completely identify Jessica! :) Every time I feel crazy editing, I remind myself of the joy of writing that first draft...oh the freedom! That's what pushes me thru so I can get there again.

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  14. Wow, congrats on getting the ideas flowing out! 10k is amazing! I am still figuring out my process as well, I have such respect for authors who have an mo and stick to it!

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  15. i could have written this myself, word for word. i've completed 2 MSs and i'm starting my 3rd. i wanted this time to be less...well, pantser-y. i tried to outline, but then scenes just started coming out. so...imma roll with it. in the words of that poet ke$ha: we R who we R.

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  16. Plotting my first book worked well for me. I don't think I'm meant to be a pantser, but when I'm writing, I end up getting away from my outline a bit pantsing some scenes. I think if you're enjoying the process you currently have, and it's worked for you in the past, don't fight it!

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  17. So good to know that I'm not the only writer with a completely muddled "process." I guess whatever works, right? Even if it's painful and incredibly time-consuming... :)

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  18. I've tried plotting a couple times, but I always got impatient halfway through the outline and just started writing. I mean, I don't even know what I'm doing half the time, and there are things I'll discover about characters or whatever that would've been nice to know earlier since now I have to go back and work them in, and there are so many gaping holes I can't think about them or else they'll make me cry...but if the story is coming, you just have to go with it. Even if it makes revising a huge pain later =)

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