I’m a total pantser, seat of the pants writer, and I couldn’t plot a book for the life of me. I never could write the outline before I did a paper when I was in school either. I would always write the paper and then write the obligatory outline. Why do teachers make us conform to some rule that doesn’t work for everyone??? For some, organizing their thoughts in an outline works. But others… I begin to research my subject and want to go in a totally different direction. So, too, sometimes, when I’ve pitched a book and sold based on two paragraphs. The story evolves in a different direction than I planned for it to go.
That sometimes happens because of research I’ve done. Even though my werewolf books are urban fantasy, in that you know that werewolves don’t live among us, as you shouldn’t–they’re not meant to be discovered, right?–but they do live within the parameters of our world and are based on real wolf behavior… As much as werewolves can be real wolf-shifting humans. This means that sometimes I create a town for them to live in and other times I have them live in real places.
But other times, the characters–since my stories are character-driven and for romance need to be–take over and run with the story. Well, oftentimes they do. I’ll be going along, happy as can be, throwing wonderful obstacles in their path, causing them all kinds of stress, and suddenly, they change the rules. Now, you might think that’s a bad thing. I know what I’m doing. They don’t.
On the other hand, it makes for some nice twists in the plot and so I allow them free rein as long as they assure me they can reach that happily ever after, which is what they want more than anything else in the world, too. 🙂
So yesterday, as I again spent another day of trying to force the direction of my plot, I took a moment out of my deadline-packed schedule, had lunch with a friend, saw a movie, came home, did NOT want to write, since I’ve been at this for weeks, and watched another movie.
And something hit. I really, really was going to watch another movie. I just was having too much fun. But the light dawned, the problem I’d been seeking came to me, and I began to write again.
Sometimes, just stepping away from the problem can be the best thing we can do!! And then, that moment of clarity will come.
Other times, if the deadline is approaching and letting the muse find me is not a viable option, just pushing forward and brainstorming with others, listing 20 ideas of where this could go, etc, can sometimes give the direction I need to go.
So I’m off to write! Ever give up on something you’ve been hassling with and can’t seem to find a solution, and voila, there it is???
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality.”
Truer words were never spoken 🙂
I so agree, Lori. Like one of those light bulb moments. Just can’t be forced.
I also would write my papers first and then do the outline. I usually would think about what I was writing, just letting my thoughts go where they will, and then after a week or so just sit down and write. As a teacher I would teach the “outline way” but let students go their own way once they showed they could be successful.
That’s great, Sally! You were a great teacher! Some would allow a draft outline and after we wrote our final paper, we could turn in a final outline with it. Even now, I have to do that with my synopsis on a book. My publisher wants a full synopsis way before the book is ever written. 1000-2000. Can’t do it. I can make things up, but it won’t be accurate until I write the book. 🙂