Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May Writer's Notes


I read an article the other day about how people write...well....sort of. It described two types of writers, called plotters or pantsters. A plotter uses outlines, notes, storyboards etc to plot out their story before starting while perhaps adding to it along the way. A pantster, on the other hand simply starts writing (like flying by the seat of their pants) often not even knowing where the story is headed and somehow manages to pull it off in the end.

I immediately recognized myself as more of a pantster. While its true I sometimes jot down notes or ideas, I have a hard time outlining the entire story or plot, because really its not "there yet" until I write it. It might be there in my head, playing out in my thoughts but the story more often unfolds as I type the words.

It was a strange thing reading this idea about people just writing and not knowing where things are going in the story until they get there. I took a course with James Patterson on line and he is definitely a plotter. So I dutifully got my notecards and created a story map and developed characters. I love Patterson, so I figured he must know the "right" way to do things. And while I believe his ideas would most likely deepen and improve my writing they just felt "wrong". for me. In some ways they stopped my stories in their tracks. They felt awkward. They stole the joy from my writing in some ways.

So I left the notecards blank and wrote. There are dangers and pitfalls in doing so. Sometimes you lose track of a character and you describe them as one way and then in a later chapter they do something out of character for that description. But really isn't that real life. Don't we all do things out of character sometimes. Isn't it always hard to describe human nature?

It's not that I never plot. Sometimes along the way of writing I go back a bit and switch something up. The plot has taken a different turn as the words flow out and slight revisions are needed. Somewhere along the way I realize exactly where the story is going so in some regards I do have the plot outlined in my mind if not on paper. Sometimes the chapters flow out in such a way as they surprise me and I wonder where they are coming from. Writing is like that...where is it coming from? 

That's why I sometimes use the hashtag   #TheStoryInsideMe because that's how it feels, there inside is a story waiting to be told and it takes on life as it flows onto the paper. Why does it wait there and why does it decide to come forth?  Those are questions I don't have the answers to.


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