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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The End Is The Start

You may have heard that I'm breaking up with Pants(ing). As part of my new path to a less painful writing process (and less revision, hopefully) I'm reading all sorts of books (like, Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland) and watching tutorials on Writer's Digest. (Two good ones: Secrets of Story Structure and Plot by Martha Alderson and First Draft Outline by Karen S. Wiesner )

So much is changing in my writing process. Right now, I'm not terrified, but I reserve the right to be terrified later. But I'm excited. I'm asking questions that I usually only ask when I get stuck (about 40K words in...) and I'm doing lots of research (see below) all before writing the first word.

My research featuring Danny Kaye, Karen Ann Quinlan and Persistent Vegetative States. 

The most interesting bit of advice I've gleaned from plotters is to start with the end. I've heard this advice before and frankly it's always sounded bogus to me. I mean, how can I know what the end is if I haven't dragged my MC through the ringer first to see what the end is? I was firmly in the camp that uses the analogy that you are unearthing an existing story - you are digging it out with your words.

This is a great analogy and I used to want to be an archeologist (I blame a very young and gorgeous, Frank Langella in the movie Sphinx for my interest in archeology.) But after I get over my own protests about writing the end first, (sputter, sputter!) it's sort of growing on me. I mean, if I write the end first, then I know. I'm not going along for the ride, hoping I figure it out. I know the end and I only have to get there.

If this doesn't seem like a significant difference, maybe you're doing this already. But for me, it's a seismic shift in attitude. And it means the hard work happens NOW. I have to do all the thinking and untangling and making sure the logic works all the way through no. No fun language, gorgeous scenery description, poetry or intense emotions (the FUN STUFF) until I figure out the bones.

This is an experiment. As one commenter mentioned on my last blog about this - she's a pantser who tried plotting and is now a hybrid - I may try it and decide to go back to the old way. But I don't think I'll ever go back completely to pantsing. Because knowing the end is giving me a window on the beginning.

So, is the end the beginning for you, or do you want NO SPOILERS, not even for you?

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