Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Learning New Tricks
Like the heroine I usually am in my own mind, I grabbed my friend Joyce's homework, copied the words (kids, don't try this at home. It is CHEATING.) into my book and at the same time committed those words to memory. I aced the vocab test. And ever since, procrastination and last minute inspiration has been my modus operendi much more often then it should.
I write the same way. Pantser. No outlining. No editing during the first draft. Going where my story takes me. I guess you could say I do well under pressure. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I can problem solve, turn on a dime, find a replacement staffer a half hour before show time, pull out a plot twist seemingly from thin air.
I'm not sure it's completely working for me. While I was traveling last week, I ran in to some trouble with a scene I was writing. It was stalling. Just kind of sitting there, looking pretty but not going anywhere. I decided to do something I've never done before - write out of sequence. (I wrote about it here on my writing group blog.) I know lots of people do this ALL THE TIME. I know lots of writers who can't even conceive of writing in order and who look at me like I'm certifiable when they hear how I write. But for me it was revelatory.
I don't think the scenes I wrote, which were far down the road in my book, will remain. But they were excellent for taking me out of the very narrow confines which I'd barricaded myself into and giving me distance. I saw that I was meandering. I was word painting. I was effing around, if you must know.
So what's my solution? Do more uncomfortable stuff.
Even though I'm only about a third of the way through this book I'm going to stop drafting and start thinking. My plan is to use Donald Maass for all he's worth (I hear that's quite a lot.)
For the next few weeks I'm going to subject FIND ME to The Break Out Novel Workbook. It's going to be carnage. And it's going to make me slow down and think. I may have to (gasp) outline. I will absolutely have to do some work on my characters before hand, instead of discovering who they are at the end of the book. There will definitely be blood - or ink - spilled. But I'm feeling a little reckless. Like a change is a good thing. And I'll share my experiences with you starting on Thursday with Adding Heroic Qualities.
So, how do you learn new tricks?