For folks who are insane enough to want to follow this process, I thought it might be fun to talk about outlining vs. pantsing, and how I’ve worked so far this time. The fact of the matter is that I’ve worked in all sorts of ways, and I think the “right” answer is regarding whether you should pants or plot is that you should do one until the words stop, then do the other. [grin]
For this book, as you can tell, I’m mostly pantsing—writing directly into the dark and letting the story coalesce in my mind as I go. But last night, as I was grilling dinner, I sat down with a notebook and bubbled on the story as I was feeling it. I did this because as I was writing, I was beginning to feel ideas welling up, and I didn’t want to lose them.
You know what I mean by “bubbled,” right?
I put the inciting incident in the middle, drew a circle around it, and then in rapid-fire fashion, started bubbling other characters, and other events around the page. Each idea I captured was then connected up in a network of relationships—some cause and effect, others merely connected by some other aspect of the story. I jotted motivations, and morals, and anything else that came to my mind, including even some aspects of other work I’ve done in what turns out to be this multi-verse. In the process, I’m figuring I fell upon what I’ll pretentiously call the “theme” statement that will drive the narrative—or at least one of them.
It looks a lot like the image at the top of this entry.
Is this an outline? No. Certainly not in any classical essence. It’s not even a flow chart in that it has no specific sequence to most of it. But it’s clearly a useful set of guidelines. I like how it feels to look at it because now that the idea space is set down someplace I’ve got a sense of what this story is going to do.
Which is pretty cool, really.
Anyway, regarding today’s work, as life has it, it’s been a fairly quiet, but weird day in the land of Novel Dares.
First, I slept a little later than usual, then spent the morning hours at my parent’s place. The good news there is that it gives me an opportunity for a bit of exercise—it’s about a mile to their place, and I walk if it’s nice … and given this is Arizona, it’s almost always nice. Today I was there to give meds to their cat, and in the process to follow up with mom and dad on their own medical status. This is why we came to Tucson, you know? It’s good to be here.
On the writing front, though, it means I started later than usual.
I also ran into some negative word count—meaning that I did some recycling over what I had written so far and pared some words out, mostly just flabby writing. This, of course, is a key to the whole idea of not editing what you finish. We who believe that creed are actually cheating in that we go back and fix things in process. For me, this does to things: first, it makes me happier with the work itself (I know it’s better), and second, in doing that it eases me back into the voice and stream of the story so I can pick up and run better once I get to going on fresh turf.
So, three steps forward, two steps back. Weird, right?
All total, I’m at about two thousand new words (say, 10,000 total), and I expect I’ll be adding more in just a bit.