“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
I can practically see Day making a face as she reads this. Why? Because she is of the opinion that the person who coined this phrase must have, “never gotten anywhere in his life.”
Day is one of those people that fill their life with goals and accomplishments, awards and failures, plans and plots…even her writing is mapped out to within an inch of its life. She is the kind of person that will get things done, damnit! None of this lollygagging, we’ve got places to go, characters to meet, and plots to see!!!!
I am the exact opposite.
When I write, I start out with a scene I think is interesting. I may have a character or two, but no more than that…just a scene and my computer. I start to write the scene and develop the characters but other than the cell in which they have been drawn the rest of the world is empty. A white space waiting to happen.
As the scene develops, so does the world around them…things they have experiences populate the past, issues they have fill out the present, hopes and dream lie in wait in the future. The people they think about inhabit the homes, the animals they see scurry away into the underbrush. It’s a very train of thought sort of thing, and yeah sometimes it gets me in trouble and sometimes I’m backtracking to rewrite stuff that would not have been necessary if I had just thought about the organization of the police union…but that is no fun for me.
When I map out a plot like that I can’t find the joy of discovery, the shock from distress, or the laugher in a joke. It’s just not there for me. If I know it is coming, I am prepared and my emotions are dampened (thus my writing is dampened). Seriously, I’ve got to have an instant when I am writing my own novel and I BUST OUT LAUGHING at something someone did or it’s just not a good time. Why? Because it is a journey I’m taking just like you will one day…I’m just doing it earlier…and if I don’t like it why should I inflict it on you?
The other problem I’ve got with pre-plotting to that extent is that I have a bad habit of hitting people over the head with information. I can’t leave it that they will know that so and so did such and such, I’ve got to say, “Hey! Did you notice that? So and So did Such and Such!” I am even worse when I outline/pre-plot things. It’s like I’ve got the caps lock switched to the on position and I’m going to tell you if you wanna know it or not.
I’m the kind of girl that has a place to start and a place to end and somewhere in the middle a miracle occurs…and actually, it does. Between start and finish I find a whole novel hiding away, and it is usually something worth reading. How great is that?
The reason I bring all this up, is that at Balticon (which will have an update this week, I promise) Day and I came up with a great idea for the novel. We talked about it all weekend and if you heard us wandering in the halls you likely heard snippets of our brainstorming session. It was wonderful, we worked out a few things and we bounced around a few ideas and we got really jazzed about this work.
But then it didn’t stop. We had to define everything, we had to know where everyone was going, we had to figure out who ended up where and before I knew it we were planning book 2 and 3! On Monday night, after brainstorming this world for 3 days I had to put a stop to it. All the mystery was disappearing and with it my anticipation for writing the novel. I was sad that I was forced to put a stop to it, as Day was so obviously enjoying the process…but I had to preserve a little of this project for myself.
I’ll be happier in the end if I do.
So how do you write? Plot and plan? Or seat of the pants? An aspiring author wants to know!
Find your peace, and live it – even if it is missing its middle.