Monday, February 11, 2013

How do you write?

How do you write?  Do you plot out your work or sit down and type from the seat of your pants?  How is it working for you?

I've done both, and here is what I think I am learning.

My first two novels started with a basic plot, but not a heavily mapped out plan.  I knew approximately where the story would go and just started writing.  During the process, I discovered many new things about my characters.  This is vastly different from plotting out the story and knowing every detail of your characters and locations up front.  It can be challenging to keep the continuity when writing this way, but I kept notes as I went along.

My next novel started as a NanoWrimo project.  So I proved I could write 50,000 words in a single month. I plotted this one out and started filling scenes with words.  It wasn't my best work.  I wasn't sure at this point if the failing was from trying to cram 50,000 words in my spare time, while working a 50-60 hour a week job, or if it was from the scene plotting.  Perhaps I'm too critical, but it just lacked the depth and richness I feel I brought to the other two books.

My next project was picking up the pieces of something that had started as a short story.  I developed an obnoxious but naive character that I grew to like, so I plotted out a bunch of scenes.  I thought it might make a nice novella.  As I started filling in the scenes, I again came to feel they lacked the richness of my first two novels, or even the richness of the first half chapter where the character really shines.

I am not ready to throw in the towel yet, it could be a Muse issue or it could be something more basic like trying to cross the realms of the right brain with the left brain.

I put that work on the back burner, and started up the sequel to The Lost Art of Magic.  I started writing.  I had an idea what kind of peril my heroine would face, and I plan a cliff hanger for the ending, but I did not plot out the story.  The richness was back.  I'm still making notes of some of the milestones I want in the book, but I'm writing it like I watch a movie.  I try to guess the ending and see how it turns out.  (By the way, if you're like me, you can probably write a better ending to half the movies you watch.)

I thing the whole left/right brain thing may be what's at work here.  So I am trying to vaguely plot out my story without diagramming every event.  Time will tell if it works for me.