Tuesday, November 22, 2011

When Pantsers Plot

This is a topic that's been heavy on me of late. I am a pantser. Always have been. But this year for NaNoWriMo, I had a plot before I had anything else. I didn't know any characters' names or much about the world itself when I started. I only knew that it was sort of like the present, only not; and that there had to be a psychic working with the police. To me, this is utterly backwards. My usual m.o. is characters=>world=>plot. This whole plot=>world + characters thing is downright freaky and wrong. As a result, my writing this NaNo has been sporadic. I'm still reaching my daily goal averaged over the month, but it's coming as 3K or 5K one day, and <1K other days. Why? Simple. It's because I know how the book ends and as a result, I'm bored. Nothing is as fun when you know how it ends! I've never been one to skip to the end of a book to see how it comes out, so writing as if I had done just that is incredibly challenging.

I'm finding that the days when I'm getting the most verbiage written, the days that are at times almost easy, are the days when I'm writing character-based scenes that I didn't plan ahead in any way. I'm making new discoveries and digging into these characters whose names I didn't even know until less than a month ago. At the same time, they are giving me insight into the world they live in, which is incredibly helpful because, dude, what is this world, you know? I still don't even have a name for the city! It's downright nuts. They're letting me in on the technology, the legal structure, the society—because like I said, it's here and now, only it's not quite. It's a little bit left of here and a little more ahead of now.  Think Max Headroom, only less prophetic. (Seriously, that show got way too many things right, and they're not the good things.) What did they say on that show's credits? A week from next Sunday? Something like that.

So I keep plugging away. I have every expectation that I'll reach 50K before the end of the month. I suspect, though, that this manuscript will need more rewriting and editing than any of my previous NaNovels because I can already see where I'm missing including details that would make the world richer and more complete. But that's not what this month is about. This month is about getting words and story out onto the page. Finesse is not part of the equation. That's what December is for. Or January. Or February... Oh, hell. I'll see you in the spring. Maybe.

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