Friday, 14 September 2012

Where am I going with this?

I wish I were a planner but I'm not.

I map out roughly.  I put milestones down and think about characters.  And then?

I plunge in.  I'm a 30,000 word sprinter.  I can manage 30,000 no problem, before I start to wander...  and slow... and stop.  I've got any number of 30,000 words novels that have fizzled and stopped.  Add them all together and you have an epic longer than A Song of Fire and Ice (not that I'm obsessed or anything).

I'm jealous of writers (I'm looking at YOU Sophie Moss) who plan really well. It's not that I don't know how to plan - I've read all about snowflake methods and story fixes.  And I've tried, really I've tried.  I've tried excel sheets and folders, spider diagrams (mildly more successful) and Scrivener.  I've sought advice, I've worked with critique partners.

I just don't enjoy it. Like dealing with my accounts, tidying the bedroom, doing the ironing and jogging it doesn't make it on my list of things I like doing.  For now I'm going to take heart from my current hero, George RR Martin:

"There are some writers who are architects, and they plan everything, they blueprint everything, and they know before the drive the first nail into the first board what the house is going to look like and where all the closets are going to be, where the plumbing is going to run, and everything is figured out on the blueprints before they actually begin any work whatsoever. And then there are gardeners who dig a little hole and drop a seed in and water it with their blood and see what comes up, and sort of shape it. They sort of know what seed they've planted — whether it's an oak or an elm, or a horror story or a science fiction story, but they don't how big it's going to be, or what shape it's going to take. I am much more a gardener than an architect."
Audio Interview with Geekson in Episode 54, (4 August 2006)

And then I'm going to try and work out where the hell I go to after the first 34,000 words.... maybe watering will help.


Sophie Moss said...

Believe me, I WISH I was a pantser. But I have a reason for why I'm a plotter. I had to give up on a novel I was 50,000 words into once. (Guess what? That was Caitlin and Liam's first story. They have a whole half book that never got finished, because it wan't any good.) It was after that terribly depressing realization that I started learning how to plot. Because I refuse to let go of another manuscript. It's really more protection than anything, so I never have to go through that painful loss again. As for my garden... I let it take me where it wants to take me. I can always pull up a plant and try again. :)

Melpomene Selemidis said...

I'm forcing myself to plot and plan at the moment as I keep going off into other tangents and like Sophie, I don't want to write a whole MS just to dump it all.

I'm a perfectionist. I want to get it right the first time.

And yes, I have tried snowflake, Scrivener, and now Plot Whisperer and a few other books but none of that planning is as fun as just letting the story pour out of you I know Meg.

Maybe some of those 30 thousand words could be a novella or two?

Good luck Meg. I'm with you.


Lisa Shambrook said...

When I first thought I could write an actual novel, just over a decade ago, I planted that seed and watered, and a book grew out of it...I had no idea of the middle or the end until I let the words escape my fingers! It wasn't bad for a first try...but it wasn't very good either!
Since, my planning for further WIPs has been more planned, at least in the context that I know where they're going.
I'm now back at that first novel and after several rewrites, it's the big edit. A lot needed changing (and cutting!), plot holes, characters etc, but I have to look at that as excessive pruning and reshaping of the plant that grew from the original seed, because I allowed the first draft to grow completely out of control (a bit like my real garden)!
Good luck with the current work...may it keep growing but in a lovely 'proud to be in your garden' way!

Meg McNulty said...

Such helpful comments y'all - thank you so much!!

@Lisa - your garden sounds like mine and your first manuscript a bit like my first too. I don't even want to think about how many redrafts I did - and I still plan to do a complete rewrite. EEP!