Thursday, September 10, 2009
The Un-creative Process
Are you a plotter or a pantzer? Do you outline your stories and then write them, or do you just sit down and write whatever comes to mind?
I do both. For short stories, I usually get hit by an idea and sit in front of the computer until it has purged from my system. It may come in pieces (like my story "Willing Blood"--that one is over 4000 words long), or it may come out all at once. Either way, I just keep my ending in mind, and write whatever pops into my head until I reach there, without jotting down so much as one note ahead of time. Then I edit, send it off to a few writer friends, and edit some more before submitting it.
My novel writing is completely different. It's a strange mash of plotting and pantzing. There are days I pace around my house, or in the garage if the kids are playing outside, purposely trying to plot out events in the story. I don't go in order, though. I work on a character's motivation, or details of some scene way into the story. It tends to be "big picture" plotting.
In the meantime, I jot things down (on whatever paper happens to be handy) as they come to me: scene ideas, specific lines I want a character to say, certain details I need to weave in, etc. They go into a bin on my desk, where I transfer them to index cards. Yeah, I actually use the process I learned in highschool! I write all the specifics on index cards, then lay those out on a table top and put them in order.
That is where my title "the un-creative process" comes in. Outlining is tedious for me. But, at least I can do it when I'm not feeling particularly creative, and I still feel like I'm accomplishing something. And it's absolutely necessary for me! My plots get pretty complex, and I have to weave things in at just the right time, offering clues here and there, exposing the mystery little by little. Ah, it's fun, but maddening at times :).
So, what about you? Plotter, pantzer, or hybrid?