In a recent conversation, an opportunity presented itself to question a very talented artist if they were a “Discovery” or “Outline” type of person.
As an illustrator, I can see how planning ahead is required.
But as a writer and novelist, I find that we tend, as a group, to fall in those two categories.
Which one is better?
I can only shrug. Neither? Both? I have outlined an entire story before, areas, who the protagonist might meet, the action.
Then only to find the heroine of the story turned left and went out to the desert to meet someone completely different, instead of taking a right turn and going to the coast as planned.
Conversations planned, outcomes identified. All I had to do was fill in the journey from one point to the other.
Silly me. My characters are challenging, willful and at times heretical. (I am god of their world, and they thumb their noses at predestined life?!)
WTF? Really, I had this all planned! Why are you making friends with the enemy instead of burning the castle and shooting them as they run out?
Maybe I’m a peace lover at heart? Or maybe my soul has far more facets to try anything so mundane as following a planned adventure.
What kinds of vacations do I like? I like to discover where I am going when I get there, I explore my world. So perhaps I write the same way.
How about you? Do you follow your OCD and write to a formula or do you embrace anarchy and go where the (Literary) wind takes you?
I would like to have an outline, the best I do as a hybrid, is write the first chapter to start, then go to the end (yes! I do read books that way, not always, but sometimes, it drives Mrs. Dash crazy, she watches my book reading style very closely, thanks to the powers that be for electronic medium so I can skip around without being noticed!) and I write backwards.
So it is “Introducing Mrs. Jones’ cat.” and then I write “and he came home, the end.” then begin to write from there.
There are no rules. Not really when it comes to creating. You might do your best creation while in pain, so you exercise until your legs and arms almost fall off, then write in the rush of endorphins. Or perhaps you follow me around as I shoot my bow at bottle caps that I have affixed to target backings. (30 paces*counted*, 80-85 feet, 25 meters *estimated, my paces are not exact*) using a longbow or recurve. (no counterweights, optical or telescopic sights, releases, arrow rests, kisser buttons, or any other accoutrements. Just a glorified stick and a string, I do make concessions to a nock point.) My point being as that it relaxes the mind, brings into focus that world that you are trying to describe.
Any method you use and works for you, is perfeckt for you.
I took a class at a college, the professor of the class, wonderful teacher, by the way, showed the class an image of a clown statue on a table.
“Write an outline of a story.” Okay. So I did.
Next assignment? Write a story.
The story I turned in, bore little resemblance to the outline. He liked it, but questioned me in front of class, this is not how to use your outline.
My comeback was that the outline is only a guide, the characters will do what they choose.
The fight was on. Until he said I would never make it as an author, I would find myself in a middle of a mess that would not be survive any kind of editing.
I told him then I had two stories already published (Children of Fury, Digital Heart) on Amazon, I would trade him books as I would be interested to compare styles.
We won’t cover what happened after that, but the term “shocked” took a new definition.
(PS. Well, the clown did not survive. But the story? “The Leader” It is a short in the “Walks of Life” anthology currently on sale.)
The upshot, don’t quit writing. Find your own voice, your own style. Maybe you need to drink coffee by the quart in the early morning while listening to the noisy raven that demands the crust to your bread. while sitting on your window sill, or maybe in the dark of the night when everyone has gone to bed and the most stupid of television is on the airwaves (so you turn the boob-tube off).
This morning, I sit drinking coffee spiced with nutmeg, cloves, crushed red chili pepper and other spices with toasted dry bagel. Last night, I went to bed at the local time of 4:30, thus, i am all over the clock. But that is what my rhythm is like.
Yours? Find what works, sit down and type. Sketch. draw, paint, exercise that muscle in your mind and do not let anyone tell you.
I cannot say that loud or often enough, Do Not Let Anyone Tell You-
“That’s not how to do it.”
It’s like shooting a bow, if you do it all wrong, but you keep hitting the “x” and you are having a good time, by all means, keep doing it.
If you outline? Make it so.
If you don’t follow the outline you made? Huzzah!
If the characters argue with you, they want to go this way, heck, follow them! See what new adventures happen you never planned. You can always put it in another story later if you have to pull them back to the previous point.
On that note: do NOT delete anything you write. If you don’t like it? Archive it. Keep it in the file of “Outtakes.” I have nearly one hundred different files of those.
If you don’t even do an outline, just sit down and write? Booya! Go for it!
(that is how I write, what I post here often has only spell check, it is as raw as it can get. Literally(no pun) only minutes old. )
If you get someone to privately message you on your fave social site? Telling you that you have to do a lot of editing on your Seymore the 8 eyed spider story for children, remember, they keep coming back to read what you make. it’s raw, painful and the stories are your babies. YOU decide when it is ready for people to look at it.
Listen only to the voices in your head and heart.
Don’t stop writing.
Then you get a well-loved keyboard like mine. LOL(And this is my GOOD one.)
©2015 Dash McCallen All rights reserved