Time to Grow up and ROW80 Check in

When I started writing I was very much a pantser, the term used for those writers who don’t plot but fly by the seat of their pants.  Recently though I’ve moved to the plotting camp.  Last week I wrote about the zen of small plates, and the fact that I should enjoy what time we have, specifically within the creative process.  I think my move to plotting is linked to this, and an acknowledgement that it is time to grow up.

For my first National Novel Writing Month, back in 2010, I sat down and bashed out 50,000 words easily.  It was thrilling flying into the blank white page, able to create whatever I liked.  Other pantsers that I have spoken to have a similar rush, and that’s what makes them love the writing method.

By the time I reached the end of my novel though, my plot had been shored up in so many places the believability of it was creaking to breaking point.  Surely though, that is what the re-writes are for?

Well, partly. But how many re-writes, drafts and revisions does it take before the thing is finished? I recently found a link on twitter which spoke about getting a novel done in 5 drafts.  My current MS has taken many more than that.  And enjoying the creative process is fine, but I think another lesson from the small plate is that we must also make the most of the time we have.  I feel like I’m wasting time with all these drafts. Time that could have been saved if I’d plotted the damn thing properly in the first place.

Yes, it’s time to grow up and get me a system.

Of course back when I started it I was doing it with no serious publishing goal.  I just drifted around playing with the characters and building the world and I don’t regret any of that because it was fun. However, now I can’t help wondering how closer I would be to finishing  if I’d planned that story properly from the start.

Sitting down to properly plot something (as I’m doing with this year’s National Novel Writing project) makes me feel rather like I’m suddenly taking this whole writing thing seriously.  That now I’m thinking about the final product and an author platform I simply don’t have the luxury of playing about as I used to.  Every time I get out my scene cards, the carefree days of writing childhood slip further behind me.  Is that a good thing? Or am in danger of losing some of the spontaneity that can be so crucial to a finished manuscript? Hmm…

Plus, when some one asks what you’re doing its fun to say ‘plotting’ and watch their reaction.  It’s surprising how many people look at you like you’re an evil genius getting ready to take over the world.

So, plotter of pantser? Or what made you realise that it was time to grow up and take things seriously?

If you are here for the Round of Word’s Update then you know all about Kait Nolan’s blog.

So far this week I have been plotting, or rather revising the plot that I have already. Marked the plot points and the pinch points (according to Rock Your Plot) and have cut some scenes and some characters.  I’m wondering if I can cut anymore without crying?

How about you?

Hanging in there – RoW80 Check in

 

For more information on RoW80 visit the blog

Not quite as productive this week.  I did read Throne of Glass, another book of my ‘Fraidy Cat list. And I survived.  Looking forward to the sequel (out in August).

Taking a break from confronting my fears now though and reading and old favourite (Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott) interspersed with snippets from Rock your Revisions as my two week break is up and I need to start tinkering with my MS again, plus I still have to get some more off to my CP before she forgets what has already happened.

Her comments on the first half have been really helpful and I have so many ideas to make things clearer that I’m tempted to start revising before she’s had a chance to be helpful with the rest.

I have done some more plotting for my NaNo novel too, using the Rock your Plot guidelines and part of a system I picked up from Plot and Structure. I can highly advise doing this.  Everything makes so much more sense when it’s set out like this and I can see where there are splurges of just one character are and where all the character arcs don’t match up.

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My boyfriend thought I was trying to invent my own card game.

I’ve also been good at leaving comments on other people’s blogs but rubbish at updating my own.  It’s not that I lack ideas, but I find it really stressful looking for pictures to make the post appear interesting.  That’s why I take so many of my own.  That is my primary goal for next week – I will load one blog post that is not ROW80 or IWSG related.

 

 

 

 

The Trouble with Mid-drift

There comes a point when the excitement of starting that spanking new novel has worn off but the buzz of heading for the end has not yet taken hold.  This is the mid-drift.  It’s a endless flabby wasteland where unwary writers can lose their way and end up marooned on one particular island unable to find the motivation to make a boat.

 

Or at least, that’s what happens to me sometimes.  There are lots of hardened outliners out there who probably don’t suffer this affliction. Planning is, of course, the surest way to avoid the mid-drift.  However, after paying lip service to my outline I dive right in to writing.  Despite everything that’s been written about middles and structure I still believe that the best way to see if a story is going to work is to write it to the end and sort out the mess later.

One of the things that’s good about NaNo (yes, I had to sneak it in there somewhere) is that it forces me through the mid-drift and on to the end.  It’s the push to get off that island and below are some things that can help keep me afloat.

Skip ahead – There’ll still be gaps to Polyfila later, but if you know where you want to go looking ahead can give an idea of how to get there. It can highlight scenes that need to happen in order for the story to conclude.

Fall back – This is dangerous as it can lead to rewriting everything you’ve already written. Or it can result in you constantly revising what you’ve already written and not making it any further forward.  Sometimes though, going back can unlock something that will help you off the island, be it character information, or sub plot. Still use with caution though.

Change direction – Introduce a new character, a new plot twist. Discover that somebody maybe isn’t who you thought they were or something happens to change one of the character’s goals, or reinforce it further.  You will have to go back and make this event more believable later on, but you will be going back and revising anyway so it may be worth a shot.

Write something else – Taking a break helps.  Leave something alone and when you come back to it with fresh eyes it may look very different.

If you’re a girl it may also be worth bearing this in mind, one of my friends recently said, as with all ladies I’m sure your flabby mid-drift is not as much of a problem as you imagine.

 

Does anyone else have any tips? Are there any outliners out there with tips to share? Leave a comment.