Current Project: The Lazarus Equation (working title)
Status: Opening scenes
This month's suggested blog topic is uncannily appropriate for me to talk about right now. I'm still at that point in my writing where I'm searching for the right balance of plotting vs. "writing by the seat of my pants" or what some people refer to as being a "pantser". (I prefer to call it writing without a net)
If you had asked me whether I was a plotter or a pantser when I first starting writing with the goal of publication, I would have come down squarely on the side of being a plotter. I used to see that question as black or white, or as opposite sides of the same coin. Either one was a plotter or one was a pantser and that was that.
And then I found that the more I plotted a story, the less likely I was to want to actually, you know, write it. So I thought, well, I must be a pantser and set about jumping into story after story without any idea where they were going and, you guessed it, completely failing to finish any of them.
Now I tend to view the writing process as a spectrum with being a plotter at one end and a pantser at the other. I'm learning that I fall somewhere on that spectrum, with a mix of both approaches combining into a process that's uniquely my own. I just have to figure out where on the spectrum I'm happiest.
I know, for instance, that I'm afraid of getting bored if I've plotted out what's going to happen too far in advance of writing. However, I do want to know what's coming a few scenes ahead of where I'm at so that I can keep the momentum going. One tricky part comes in knowing how far ahead is too far.
I also like to know the ultimate goal and major turning points in the story. But not in too much detail. A lot of people say they can write an outline and still feel able to deviate from it. Not me. Oh, no. That would be too easy. No, when I put plot information on paper I tend to be stuck with it. I have to make my turning points and story goals sufficiently vague so that I can change them easily if needed without causing me grief, but with enough detail that I can write towards them. That's the other tricky part--how vague is vague enough without being too vague?
Well, I know my head hurts now--how about you?
Those tricky parts? They're what I'm still figuring out.
So, tell me about your process. It's the age old question for writers: Are you a plotter or a pantser or are you somewhere in between? Did figuring it out come easily to you, or did you struggle to find your process?
* The title of this post is a totally gratuitous and unrelated reference to "Spock's Brain," generally agreed to be one of if not the worst Star Trek (the original series) episode ever, in which the following immortal line is uttered, "Brain and brain, what is brain?"