ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

IWSG post--techno problems, PANTSER or PLOTTER---which are you?

Happy February!

I missed January's IWSG, caught up as I was in a technical problem concerning feedburner not updating my posts. In case you ever come across this glitch, my final solution was to 'ping' feedburner. Magic! My updates began instantly!

Thanks as always to Alex J Cavanaugh and his worthy team who have made the IWSG such a runaway success! (Click on the link to access more posts or to sign up.)

As some of my long-term blogger friends know, I have various novels in various stages of dress/undress. The reason for this is that I'm a PANTSER, which is an exciting way to write, but it does lead to hitting brick walls at 100 kilometres per hour, and kaboom, CRASH!! Pick myself up, rev up the motorbike and try to find another direction...over and over...The bruises and broken limbs stack up, until finally that manuscript needs serious hospital treatment. While that story is taking up a hospital bed in an author-induced coma, it seems like a good idea to begin another novel...(I wrote about the PANTSER/VS PLOTTER here in another IWSG post if you want some more info on this phenomenon).

Well, I don't regret ANYTHING from my PANTSER days. I think the best way to learn to write a novel is to write a novel. I've read plenty of best-selling authors who say they have drawers full of first, second and third novels which until they are famous, no publisher wants to look at, and even then they may never see the light of day. That was probably while they were trying to work out what sort of a writer they were.

Random: Saw this sign at the Library Cafe this morning:

Writ-er
(noun)
1. A peculiar organism who is capable of turning caffeine into books.

So.., as those who picked up my 'how excited am I?' post about finally embarking on writing what I want to write...chic lit (not a typo) set in Paris...I can report that I am in the process of turning caffeine into a book. First, OUTLINING! D'oh, you say. Well, yes, d'oh, I am busily compiling a hand-written, sectioned book of notes on the main plot/sub plots/characters/settings blah blah...just like all of you clever authors who've been busily publishing books while I've been busily hitting brick walls.

An illustration by Kanako which suits my genre...perfectly
This month I'm very happy, not at all insecure...I know my subject matter and settings thoroughly thanks to several trips to Paris and greater France...now I just have to weave my winsome characters into the fantabulous City of Light...

And of course there are far too many books available on OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL. K.M.Weiland is one of the best for me. Currently I'm working on character arcs following the advice of Somerset Maugham who said:

"You can never know enough about your characters."



I'm back at work and have all the lovely students I can handle, working on literature like The Crucible and the usual dose of Shakespeare in the form of The Merchant of Venice, Othello...just for starters.

How about you this month? How is your writing going? And please share--how do you approach a new novel/short story? Do you know your characters in depth before you begin your story?



50 comments:

  1. Welcome to the world of outlining!
    Glad you're in a good place and not insecure.
    And I think a lot of bloggers need to ping their feedburner, as many aren't showing up in my Feedly reader.

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  2. Outlining really is crucial for me; if I don't outline, I'm the same as you, hitting brick walls all over the place. Glad you're not feeling insecure this month :)

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  3. I admire pantsers because I'm such a control freak. I outline everything, and I mean EVERYTHING! I feel more focused when I do that, and it's easier for me to write the actual story.

    P.S. I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. I don't know if you accept them or not but you can. :)

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    1. Thanks for the nomination Chrys! I'm adding the link here so I can come back to it when I have time.

      http://writewithfey.blogspot.com.au/search?updated-max=2015-02-06T05:00:00-05:00&max-results=1

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  4. Pantser here. No control whatsoever over poetry, minimal on fiction. Happy to tell you that you are showing up properly, no lag, on the blogroll. Happy also to hear you are in a good place. :))

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  5. I hit enough brick walls too that I started plotting, and it's gone so far as to now be evaluating character arcs, plot arcs, and a slew of technicalities that make me want to bash my head in, but it definitely makes for faster, less traumatic drafting. =)

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    1. Yes, Crystal. I'd love to dive in but I know all this pre-writing will be an eye opener! I hope so anyway!

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  6. Hitting the wall is one way to stop, if only for a while. :-) I loved the definition of a writer. Perfect.

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  7. Like Lee, I like that definition of a writer. I outline then inspiration hits me, and it goes out the window. I follow it and enjoy the drop into the unknown. But I always have a firm image of the ending. I may zigzag from my original course, but I always get to the planned destination. Best of luck with the writing!

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  8. I'm a pantser as well, so I fully understand the feeling of wanting to beat my head against a wall due to my own devices!

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  9. Just sit down and write is always the best advice. I love that you are so positive in your quest! Can't wait to read more of this story. Paris is the best setting!

    I've been thinking of you a lot but have been too lazy to drop you an email, forgive me. I've been swimming in a pool of doubts, and decided reading romance would be the cure - that didn't work! LOL

    You are updating just fine in my blog role!! Yay!

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  10. That's great news. I'm a panster too, and it's not really that helpful in getting things done! But I tried plotting and my creativity dries up. :(

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  11. This month I've been writing a synopsis for my near-complete WIP. Ugh. If there's anything more miserable than writing a synopsis, I don't know what it is.

    I always approach new projects via character. I may not have a clue about the plot, and I will never be an outliner, but I hardly fly by the seat of my pants. I always know my characters' wants and needs, what’s stopping them from reaching their goals, and the inner conflict that will act as the catalyst for their change. Maybe it's because I deal with characters rather than with plot, but I never hit a brick wall.

    Enjoy your new project, Denise!

    VR Barkowski

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    1. The characters are the crucial part VR. So that works for you and you don't end up black and blue from hitting brick walls.

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  12. Its been a while since I started something completely new. I get several paragraphs, sometimes an entire chapter that starts anywhere between the beginning and the end, then let it sit a while. I have way too many projects I'm working on. Plus revisions and querying. Wow, I just tired myself out just writing that :)

    Glad you are finding your writing niche. I'm still looking for mine. Its a journey, right?

    Hey, this post popped up in my blog roll. Woohoo, congrats on getting it fixed :)

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    1. Yep. A journey Donna. Some are longer than others. Mine's definitely a cross-country outback type of journey!

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  13. Whenever I write anything, I have to outline or else I am totally lost :)

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  14. I love that quote, even though I don't "do" caffeine! Congrats on getting so much done! I love Paris. I LOVE France. So, having already read some of your writing set there, this should be really good (rubbing hands together and grinning!). Glad you're enjoying your students...

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    1. I hope it lives up to my and your expectations Lisa. But I must say I've never been so exhilarated planning a book before!

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  15. I used to be a pantser and you described it perfectly. Now I'm a loose plotter. I think of myself as a pantser plotter. Nothing is set in stone, but having a guideline can really help to avoid those brick walls.

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  16. Uh-oh ... sounds like you've been seduced by the Dark Side :) I'm firmly a plotser - a bit of both. I think you need elements of plotting and pantsing to steer a course through the brick walls while still keeping up the writing momentum.

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    1. I like that. The 'dark side'. Ha ha ah...

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  17. I'm a pantser... but I see more and more the need to become a plotter... I'm doing it in baby steps, with chapter titles and a few words about what's happening in that chapter. I cannot do it in too much detail, because I seem to lose interest in telling the story if i know too much beforehand. I still can't give up the pleasure of discovery.
    And I cannot write linearly. I jump from scene to scene and back - is is a form of ADD? :-)
    I was thinking about buying K.M. Weiland's "Outlining Your Novel." I'm glad that you recommend it.

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    1. We all write so differently Vesper. And a good thing that is. Weiland's book is amazing!

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  18. I recently made a vow to stop my 'pantser ways' and faithfully write with an outline. It's too much work, which is how I did the novel I just finished. It took FOREVER to fix! What a mess. Outlines save time (although I still hate them). Love it, hate it, can no longer live without one--that's me! I've looked at Weiland's book before, time for a review. Thanks!

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    1. That's what happened to me Sharon. Ages to fix!

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  19. Congratulations on your newest approach. I can see it's working for you, because your enthusiasm shows, and that's what will carry you through to the end. As for my process? Actually, I work both ways. Panster first, then outlining what happened in that first draft and making suggestions as I outline. Meanwhile, an earlier book, a middle grade mystery, was also first written panster style, because it just kept flowing. And, I'm happy to say, a kabillion rewrites later, it's going to be PUBLISHED in June. I'm looking for reviewers now.

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    1. Still the most important part of the writing process is getting that great idea isn't it?

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  20. Hi, Sis. Bet you're surprised to see me! You are an amazing blogger, and writer of whatever you set out to write. You have certainly gone through a process to get to chic lit, which sounds fun and which I very strongly suspect you are going to enjoy very much. I am sort of back to blogging. I will post something, I hope once a week, to reconnect with some "old" blogger friends, maybe make a few new ones. Not for publication (unless with a "Mormon" publisher) I still am drawn toward writing my spiritual memoir, as well as stories of my childhood. The latter I decided to do for the A to Z this year, as (selfishly) this will get me into the memoir my niece said she would like to read as her late mother/my late sister would be in it. That's about it. I still keep in touch with the intrepid, always fascinating blogger, and always wonderful human being Hilary Melton-Butcher. Must close now and get Jen to bed. She says "hi." Fond memories, and all the "best" to you and your lovely family....as ever, Ann

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    1. I don't think your writing career is over yet Ann! And it's great that your memoir is still selling!

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  21. Hi, Denise,
    I'm happy you found your genre and what works for you.
    I like outlining, even loosely, as it gives me an idea of where I'm going with each story. Sometimes, I find myself outlining in the middle, but that's okay too since our process is not static.

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    1. That's good to keep in mind Joy. Flexible!

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  22. Well, Sis. I'm getting older, and more feeble minded, I swear! Your comment came into my email box, and I just sent you an email, repeating, I think, some of what I wrote above. Ah well, sigh... I'm confused with the "new" Blogger, just a wee bit. Not even going to try Google+; I don't need it. And I just deleted the A to Z badge. You'll see why when you read my email..... ((( )))

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  23. Hello Denise!
    I'm definitely a pantser but I do a lot of writing/thinking in my head too before hitting the page. Good luck with all your projects!

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  24. Congratulations on deciding what kind of book you wanted to write. That should make the writing process even more enjoyable for you. Good luck with the new approach, too. I know the characters for my next book inside and out. I've written detailed character profiles for them, something I didn't do with the first book. I've also done extensive research on numerous topics, divvied the info into folders, also something I didn't do with the first book.The only thing I HAVEN'T done is start writing the bloody book!

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    1. Thanks for popping by Susan. Now you settle down and get your fabulous book written. :-)

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  25. It's funny--I've never been an outliner, even though I love planning and organization. I have to let the words write themselves at the start. Once I'm into the story, I can stop and write a synopsis. I probably should do an outline instead...

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    1. Yes, Stephanie, I think you have your system worked out. No matter what our system, I think most of the times the words write themselves on a good writing day. :-)

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  26. Hi Denise,

    Great post. It's good that you worked out a system but it would change at times and all changes would be for good.

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  27. I never stick to outlines, the characters change them.

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  28. I am an outliner with a pantser thrown in the mix. I like to have an outline to get me started and then feel free to change whatever I want as I go along. :)

    I need to get moving with my writing. All the freezing temperatures here have made me lazy and I just want to curl up with blankets on the couch. I need to do more writing!

    Glad you have picked the genre you want to write and that you are making progress. Good luck!
    ~Jess

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  29. You do seem excited about writing your book and I am sure it will be a good one. I am not a writer, apart from little posts on my blog written in English – my 3rd language, so my writing is not sophisticated. But I am a “reader” – actually a voracious reader, both in English and French.
    I’ll tell you what I did not like, as a reader, about the last fiction I read from an American author writing a story happening in Paris. I could not get into the story because it seemed so fake. First of all her characters had French names taken from cities and French commercial brands, such as for example – Mr. Rambuteau (a Paris metro station and a street) or Mr. Quimper (small famous Brittany city) or Melle Javel (well-known French bleach product.) In addition when she included some French words, often she placed the wrong article with the noun, like “le morte” which should be “le mort” masculine, “la morte” is feminine. Then what upset me the most was the description she made of a party at a Paris police station where employees are eating cheese and fruits while “La Marseillaise” is playing softly in the background. A party in a Paris police station? Never heard of any. La Marseillaise? Soft? That is the national anthem – no way, would it be played in a police station while government employees are eating and drinking – they would have to stand in attention to show respect. There was a lot more – most of her French characters did not ring true to me, a French person, but I stopped reading the book .. In case you wonder it was called “Murder in the Marais – an Aimee Leduc Investigation” by Cara Black – a San Francisco author (luckily I got it from our Library.) A friend who read another of her French murder stories told me that Ms Black called famous French playwright Georges Feydeau who died in 1921 a “17th century” playwright !! Sloppy research to say the least. By the way my next post will be about Paris ugly and despised (by the Parisians) love locks. Also I have never heard the word “pantser” – is it Australian? Have you chosen a different title?

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  30. Thank you for sharing, it's really helped me...
    Very nice article...
    Cari Plotter

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    Interactive Projector

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