A while back, I got into a conversation on Precie’s blog about getting down to the writing. We struck a little deal that we would each finish our novels by December 31st. We struck this little bargain, back in August, but as any writer will tell you, two months is a mere blip on the radar in the novel writing process.
We also had two witnesses (and assorted blog commenters who will certainly heckle and cajole us should we slack off). The lovely Moonrat is watching from the sidelines, with her megaphone, chanting, “Down with the downward spiral!” And the wonderful Ello is nudging for to beta read at the end of our marathon runs.
Precie – status check!!! Are you still hitting the fifteen minutes a day? Progress report time... (p.s. – if you’d prefer me to pester you in private, rather than on my blog, just send me comment rasberries and I shall desist)
For me, August through September was productive, as far as the fact that I was actually writing... just not the novel I’m on now... so I’ll explain my oddities for those who are better organized with their efforts.
I decided way back while I was doing revisions for RASKIN’S WINGS that I would try to write in a more organized way. I would be the type of writer who outlines – sha-zahhh, therefore saving myself tons and tons of revision time... I would be the type of writer who writes out the pitch first and follows it through in the writing... yep, one of them.
Okay, I tried it. It doesn’t work for me. It’s great that it works for some of you, but not me. I tried. Never again. What happens when I try to outline that way is that I get bombarded by all new plots and brand new shiny ideas. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I’m in pitch mode and since I’m not writing a pitch for a novel whose characters I’ve lived and breathed with for eons, but a brand new one I haven’t fleshed out yet... well, instead of getting into those characters, I keep going with the whole marketing pitch thing. I can’t shut it off. It’s like a water spigot with a broken handle. So I had to just stop. I’m guessing that sounds odd to some of you – too many ideas? What the hell’s the matter with you? But the fact that I kept getting a new idea, instead of getting uber excited about the one I’d just written the pitch for, told me that they weren’t the ones. Not yet, anyway.
Then I decided to work with another middle grade fantasy. I got about two chapters in (three really, but the third one sucked and I tossed it). The middle grade fantasy I will go back to, I’m sure. But I’m not there. I’m not in that mode.
Okay, so that takes you through to the end of September, when this main character bounced into my head... and he did, what I love most about writing fiction – took up every available corner of space and yapped at me even when I was trying to sleep. So I started with page one, which ran into two and three and four and before I knew it there was a brand new shiny first chapter... and then a prologue, that screamed out of my fingertips within the span of about six minutes. I love when that happens and it only happens for me when I’m open to it... when I’m not worried about the rules, when I’m not second guessing what I can and can’t do in fiction.
I talked a long time ago about embarking on a novel that was too big, that maybe was a bit ahead of what you thought you could do. That’s what I’m tackling with this one. My narrator has a voice all his own and I keep thinking, while I’m not actually writing, ‘gee, can I do that? Doesn’t some of that fly in the face of some of the rules?’ But when I’m writing, all of that stuff goes out the window... as it should. I’m having fun with it because I’m not bouncing my head off the desk over whether or not it should be more active, shorter sentence structure, blah, blah, blah... I can look at that stuff in revision.
So, the first month was a wash, albeit a creative one. From the end of September until today, I’ve gotten a prologue and the first five chapters done. I know where he’s going, who’s going with him, and how he’s going to get there... but I can’t wait to see the side roads he leads me down that I haven’t already guessed.
How about you guys? Are you plotters and planners or do you let the characters lead you through the journey? Do you pay strict attention to the rules in your rough draft, or do you leave that off for later? And how’s your writing coming?