Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Personally, I walk the line between both methods. And you know what? It works for me. I can't just write and write without knowing where I'm going, but I can't know every single step of the journey either.
And I know I'm not the only one who has this problem.
Pantsers often hit road blocks while writing, or they get 100 pages in and realize the story isn't going in the right direction, something's not right, and it all went wrong 25 pages back. This. Sucks. On the other hand, Outliners sometimes, (okay, more than sometimes) find that once they've written out what's going to happen, once they know for sure where everything is going, the magic is gone. There's no point in going on, no point in writing it out anymore.
Any of this sounding familiar?
So what do I do? A bit off both, or what I like to call the Half-Ass Outline Method. You can call it something else if you'd like. I tend to start out with an idea and my MC. I know who she is, and why it's her story. From there I'll do a synopsis of the first few chapters, not terribly in depth, just a couple of paragraphs telling me what's going on and who all's involved. That's all I do. And then I open my shiny new Word document and I start first drafting. I don't look at the handwritten paragraphs, because I already know the bare bones of what's going to happen, I just have no clue how it all fits together, how my characters feel or react to things, what the setting is like. All of that is new as I write.
Then, when I get to the end of my synopsis, I have a choice: I can either keep writing if I'm on a roll and know what I want/where the story's taking me, or I can stop and do it all over again.
My synopsis isn't detailed. It isn't in bullet form with three other points under a bigger point. It's a few paragraphs, often I don't even mark where each chapter goes. I'll know it when I see it. And I definitely don't go into detail over scenes. Sometimes I even have multiple scenes wrapped up together in a sentence or two, and I flush that out into five pages or so.
This is what I'm doing right now for my current WIP. I know a few of the major plot points that are coming: there'll be a war, my MC will lose people she cares about but ultimately succeed in her goal, and she'll see her parents again. But a whole lot more than that will happen in between.
The thing I like about my method, is that I get the best of both worlds: I have a little bit of structure without taking away the surprise and the magic of figuring out the story as I write it. I still get shocked by things this way, by unexpected scenes and reactions. And I love it.
So, what's your method of writing? Do you have one? If not, you're more than welcome to try mine.