Friday, 9 May 2014

P or P?

 So I haven’t been writing much here. Neglect- that is what it is. I admit that. But I have been writing. Like proper writing. 2k words a day, five days a week writing, which is record-breaking for me.

 I've been in the doldrums for an excruciatingly long time; starting things, then going off them; having ideas, squeeing about them for days, then waking up on the fifth day and not even remembering what it was about.  “Writing 100k words demands a bit more investment and belief than that,” I tell myself and move onto another idea. Nothing gets a chance to blossom, I get frustrated, put pressure on myself, contrive a new idea slightly inspired by whatever I happen to be reading at the time, desperately squee about it, then forget it and the cycle continues.

 So last October I’d had enough. Something needed to be done. I forced myself to pick three ideas and work on them for a week each, and then at the beginning of week four I just had to start writing on one of them. And right up to the Sunday night I thought it was going to be the Uni-based NA story, but when my fingers hit the keys on the Monday morning it was the Chicklit story that came out.  I was mooost surprised, I don't mind telling you. But off I went, and working to a basis of 1k words a day, (or rather 5k a week, however I could get that done.) Which I did, and by Christmas I had the first 50k words of a story. It had been a painfree experience, because I had known the direction of the story in my head. Then I hit the middle and floundered. Christmas became an excuse, but into January, I still hadn't picked it up.

 A rejection came in on my YA story "Strong characters, great voice, crystal clear scenes, weak plot." Ah yes. Plot. That old chestnut. I think in my heart of hearts I knew that there needed to be more plot, but was hoping that the other stuff would cloak it. Seems agents are rather more savvy than that.

  I had to get this plotting malarky sorted. Cue purchase of a couple of books, including Blake Snyder's Save the cat, which was clear, simple and helpful. Go buy it if you don’t’ have it. I finally did what I thought I could do in my head; I got the pin board out, bought the index cards and started working on the plot of the story. The biggest revelation for me was that though I thought I had a story with lots of fun/interesting scenes, when I stuck them up on the board that first time, I saw immediately that there weren’t actually that many, and that there were huge gaps in the board. I had been trying to run across a net, when I needed something more tightly woven.

 I appreciate that there are writers who plan and then there are writers that fly by the seat of their pants. If I have learnt anything then it is that I am no Pantser. (Is it Pantster? Whatever. I am not it.) I don't need to know every detail, but I need to have a clear route.

 Now I know where my story is going, I know what scenes still need writing. I can sit at the computer every day, set a 45 min timer and belt the words out. I've doubled the daily word count without any pain, and I am enjoying it all again. Come the Sunlounger meet-up this month, I'll be able to say that I have finished my first rough draft on a full length Chicklit novel and more to the point I know what I am doing going forward. Hurrah.

What about you? Plotter or Pantster?

1 comment:

  1. That is SUCH great news Nille. I don't believe pantsers actually exist because no one can write (with success) without a route. Everyone has to sit down at some point and think where am I going? Hope we're all going Somewhere :)