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  • Finding the WIP is turning out to not be about what I thought...
    by funnyvalentine at 18:27 on 21 January 2013
    it was about, and I think it's giving me a crisis of confidence. This is the second (proper) book I have written - the first one took me so long and had so many drafts, it might count as two - and I was very much looking forward to getting stuck in to something new.
    This is a sequel and I have always known where I wanted it to end. I am not a brilliant plotter, so I thought (like Rachael Aarron) I would have a beautifully organised plot before I started and the draft would write itself. However this didn't work for me. What works for me is placing myself in the head of the mc and letting it all run on from there.
    Having finally realised (been told) I'd sacrificed emotional depth for plot, I started again and am now at 27K and very much happier with how it's going. But there are times when I do not know what is going to happen next. I know roughly where I want it to go, but not how.
    I think I am looking for reassurance that I am not the only one who writes like this - in that I know where I'm going, but it's very loose. I know someone very famous said 'the book's the boss' - I'm hoping this is what they meant.
    Sorry for massive panic posting. Many thanks.
  • Re: Finding the WIP is turning out to not be about what I thought...
    by Sharley at 20:00 on 21 January 2013
    Hi fv

    I'm sorry you're going through the wars with your second book in the series. I'm all the more sorry that you don't know what is going to happen yet, as I was hoping you'd tell me!

    I start with a beginning and an end. I can't imagine planning much more than that. Even for the next WiP I know the beginning, end and a titchy bit in the midddle and that's all, even though I've been thinking about it for ages.

    I know many others who plan in detail, but I don't know many WWer pantsers.

    I'm not much help!
  • Re: Finding the WIP is turning out to not be about what I thought...
    by Jem at 20:09 on 21 January 2013
    Me, me! I'm one! And Caroline, I think? I do a bit of initial planning - if you can call giving names to the characters planning. I prefer - as I've said elsewhere - to be led rather than to lead. But it's very scarey. And it probably involves more rewriting than it would if you'd planned it. But I never know what a story is about till I start writing it apart from say, one time in ten.
  • Re: Finding the WIP is turning out to not be about what I thought...
    by EmmaD at 20:48 on 21 January 2013
    It sounds scary, but don't despair. You can still end up where you thought you wanted to - it's just that the route between is turning out to be different. Like Sharley, I start wtih a beginning and an end - though which comes first varies. But I often don't know a great deal about what comes in between.

    When I don't know what happens next - what the next move is - I find it's more likely to come to me if I'm not at my desk.

    Not an excuse for goofing off or pissing around on the net, which uses writing brain, but definitely a reason to do something really rhythmical and non-verbal, like going for a walk, or hanging up the washing. It's one of those ones which solves itself when you're relaxing, not pushing, IYSWIM.

    Plus, perhaps the fact that this it 27k is significant. You might find some of the cures for the 30k Doldrums are relevant:

    http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2011/07/the-30k-doldrums.html

    Also maybe the idea of building the bridge would help, because often it's about constructing the move to the next pier:

    http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2009/01/building-the-bridge.html



    <Added>

    I was looking for something else, for a student, but came across this, which is all about what's going on when you know the end of a novel, but not (yet) the beginning, and certainly not the middle.

    <Added>

    http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2010/03/how-are-you-going-to-get-there.html
  • Re: Finding the WIP is turning out to not be about what I thought...
    by ShellyH at 21:27 on 21 January 2013
    Fv, I sympathise, I'm exactly the same. Like Sharley, I have a beginning and always the end, sometimes even the last line, but everything inbetween is an adventure. I usually have a few key points I need to get to, but that's it.
    Like Emma, if I come to a halt I have to get up and leave my computer. Things will usually come to me at the oddest moments, I've solved so many plot problems doing the washing up
    It is scary, but then trying to sit down and plan when it's not a natural thing to do, is even scarier.
  • Re: Finding the WIP is turning out to not be about what I thought...
    by Freebird at 11:13 on 22 January 2013
    Hi fv, I'm with you on this one. I wanted to be someone who plans everything out first, who knows what the plot twists are and can iron out any gaps and flaws before I've invested months in writing a long first draft. But I found that it took away the joy, the pleasure of just wondering what does happen next, and - as you say - the emotional depth.

    So now I'm back to having a loose outline and writing a (possibly very long, rubbish) first draft, then going back and chopping it to bits.

    Also, remember you're at that dreaded 30k mark (Def, see Emma's blog - it helped me when I hit that mark in the past. I;ve even abandoned a novel at that point once because it seemeds to be meandering all over the place, whereas now I think I should have just persisted).

    Hope things pick up for you soon
  • Re: Finding the WIP is turning out to not be about what I thought...
    by MPayne at 13:42 on 22 January 2013
    I write like that too. I really worried about it during my MA and wrote at length about how planning didn't work for me (and what did) in my portfolio commentary. Fortunately the feedback on this confirmed what I felt - that I was better off sensing my way through than planning in advance. I think that's just how some writers are. I tried to make planning work for me, but couldn't. Now I've no desire to.

    If I follow a plan the writing doesn't seem 'alive' - I don't feel so connected to it and I don't think it shows the emotional webs between characters or the main character's emotional journey so well. For me the work progresses and builds on what's come before, so instead of looking at a plan I look back over the chapters I've already written to see where to go next.

    Plenty of fantastic writers don't plot/plan in advance. Marilynne Robinson, for example, says she doesn't, that all the action is generated out of character (I think that was in her Paris Review interview, but it could have been from her collection of essay). Henry Green, in his Paris Review interview, said 'write a plan and you'll only depart from it'. I should know of more but I can't think of them at the moment!

    <Added>

    I do now have an 'image' for the end point of both storylines - but I didn't develop even this until I was c.30K words through.

    Just remembered, Penelope Fitzgerald was another who didn't plan much - she said to write a novel she needed the title, the opening paragrah and the final paragraph - that was all.

    <Added>

    Ian McEwan said something relevant to this on a recent interview on R4 - but unhelpfully I can't remember what it was.

    Btw, if you've any interest in reading my critical commentary on planning vs not planning I'd be happy to share via email
  • Re: Finding the WIP is turning out to not be about what I thought...
    by funnyvalentine at 17:45 on 22 January 2013
    Thank you so so much everyone - these posts are incredibly reassuring. Emma thank you so much for the links - I read them all. I particularly love the 'how do you get there' post. It makes so much sense - I most often have endings and ideas linked to it, so the thought of having an ending to work against is perfect! Thank you so much. I like the idea that it's not necessarily 30K doldrums, but more the realisation that the book might be going in a different direction. I feel quite committed at 30K, I do agree. It's also the point at which I think I'm moving from Act 1 to Act 2. The last book was about 82K words when it was completed and it got hacked back to 64K, so to be at this stage at this word count seems about right.

    If I follow a plan the writing doesn't seem 'alive' - I don't feel so connected to it and I don't think it shows the emotional webs between characters or the main character's emotional journey so well. For me the work progresses and builds on what's come before, so instead of looking at a plan I look back over the chapters I've already written to see where to go next.




    Yes, this is how I work too. I do have key points in my mind - or scenes, which I will try and work toward.

    I wrote an awful lot to find out I am a serial pantser. I'm glad I've done it though and found out well and truly how I work best.

    Thank you so very much for all the support and encouragement.

    It's good to know I am not alone...(sometimes I worry it's because I'm lazy...)

    Hope all your writing is going well too.

    PS Thanks MIchelle - I'd love to see it! Might stick it on my wall....





    <Added>

    "But I never know what a story is about till I start writing it apart from say, one time in ten."

    Yes - I have done this too and think it was one of the best stories I've ever written.
  • Re: Finding the WIP is turning out to not be about what I thought...
    by CatherineZ at 07:26 on 23 January 2013
    I came across a term 'plotster'. I think this defines me as I do plot and somehow as I'm writing along comes another twist or turn that hasn't been outlined at all and it takes my story into a new direction.

  • Re: Finding the WIP is turning out to not be about what I thought...
    by MPayne at 11:49 on 23 January 2013
    FV, I've sent you a WW mail