I recently read another authors blog post about whether he meticulously plots out the events of his work (he does) or lets it flow naturally. He stated that he has experimented with both styles and decided that Plotting worked better for him. I find myself to be a more organic writer.
When I really began to consider ‘The MisEducation of A Minor‘ a serious project, I sat down and outlined the events of the story. At the time the project was titled ‘Legacy’ and was intended to be a one-off engagement. I went through the chapters that I had written and meticulously outlined exactly what actually happened, taking care to highlight what I found to be the poignant moments. Then life happened and I ended up taking a break from both Legacy and writing in general.
Last year the untimely death of my computer and the miraculous salvation of my hard drive, prompted me to get back into writing and Legacy. I reread what was written and then checked with my trusty road map (read outline) to see where I intended for the story to go and I attempted to start writing again. As a person I was in a much different place than I was when I started working on it and immediately my writing started to reflect that. For me it was very clear while reading to pin point where I had stopped in the previous endeavor and where I had attempted to dive back in. Hopefully after a few editing miracles, it wont be so obvious to everyone else.
I also noticed that although my outline had everything happening in One story, there was just too much adventure and too much emotion to convey for it to be tied up neatly at the end of any book that didn’t border on the love child of the King James’ version of of the bible and War and Peace, ie clearly not one book, so I began to adjust my outline to reflect the new nature of the project. And that was about the time when the outline lost all purpose as a writing tool for me.
My characters started to really speak to me and tell me about events in their lives that they felt needed to be told and people that needed to be a part of the story. Three characters in particular from the very first chapter of the first book were not intended to be seen again. They were each meant to be a simple one dimensional look at Lee’s past. Just a footnote in his history. While each of these characters plays a much more substantial role in Lee’s life, one character in particular has proven themselves to be so important that the entire world and possibly the universe must stand up and take notice of the repercussions. In the first book alone, several very prominent characters were created after my hiatus. Ford, for all who have read the book, being the most note worthy. His appearance has literally changed the entire outlook of the series.
I find that every time I attempt to plan out the events of the upcoming chapters, even in little ways like picking the title, I almost never seem capable of following that plan. Back in late January early February, I noted that I had written myself into a corner regarding book 2, I solved the problem but it wasn’t until I started writing this that I realized the issue was that I tried to plot. I had a direction I wanted a specific character to go in and an arc I wanted him to follow and he essentially told me to ‘shut up, go sit in THAT corner and write’. And so I did and several new characters arose to rectify my perceived pickle.
One of my Content Editors was severely T’Oed when she read the wall I ran into. And luckily completely relieved and intrigued by my solution. But there most definitely is an evil underbelly to forgoing plotting. When you are running full steam ahead while trying to wall paper the room as you go occasionally you miss a spot. That is why I am so lucky to have such a great editing team. They ask me questions about things that I wouldn’t have seen as being even the slightest bit unclear. For instance, during the series Ford buys a birthday present for Lee. Quite simply during the course of writing the chapter, i never got around to deciding what the present actually was. During our discussion she helped clarify how quite divergent inferences could be gathered from that simple exchange.
So I guess when it comes to writing I am team ‘Go Green!’. when it comes to foods I’d rather save the dollar and acknowledge that whatever damage inorganic food was going to do to my body was done already when I was in my more formative years.