Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Cop-out

A few people have asked me what sort of book I'm writing for NaNoWriMo.  This turns out to be quite a difficult thing to answer, particularly in person.  At least one local writer thinks I'm an incoherent moron after the first attempt, so I'm going to try to get it down pat here once and for all.

So here goes:

I have no idea what sort of book I'm writing - yet.  I'm just trying to tell a story.  I haven't planned it out.  I have a setting, some characters, a situation, and an ending I'm not committed to.  I'm just figuring out what the characters do, one scene at a time.  By the time I have created a heap of fifty thousand words, I have faith that I will be able to look back and see where the heart of the story is.  That will tell me if it is a romance, a mystery, and fantasy, or what-have-you.  Then I will start over, and rewrite and restructure the entire goddamn thing around that heart, per the conventions of that genre.

Maybe this is the stupidest thing you've ever heard.  Maybe this is the stupidest idea in the history of writing.  But I do have a reason for trying this experiment: my last novel attempt (still officially a WIP), in which I decided up front it was a thriller and planned the fuck out of it -- and then was too bored and sick of it to actually write the thing.  When I forced myself to try, my characters kept rebelling, trying to fall in love instead of chase bad guys, etc.

I am certain of only one thing: even if this experiment is an utter failure, it won't have been a waste of time.  I'll learn some stuff, and try a different approach on the next one.

9 comments:

  1. Sound like a really great experiment to me. Everyone's brain works differently, which means every writer works differently. I think there's a lot of merit in just mucking about with different tactics until you find out what's perfect for you.

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  2. I'll love to hear how you get on. Like jj says, everyone's brain works differently. It's taken me a while to sort out the best way for me to write and I'm still working on it.

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  3. Given your history of overplanning, this seems a reasonable response. The one thing that concerns me about it is the possibility that you will unintentionally use this version as a "better, bigger than ever plan."

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  4. Dear Anon 7:04,

    You were obviously involved in my "simple Vegas wedding." Ah well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Love,
    (Probably) Your Daughter

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  5. Dear Kate,
    I am not the Anon 7:04. But it must be someone else who knows you well.
    Love, Mom

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  6. Kate,

    I've been involved in many of your "simple" plans, but we didn't make it out to Vegas. I'm that Anon.

    John

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  7. Thanks for 'fessing up, John!

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  8. You know, John, you have reminded me that all those "simple" plans turned out pretty darn well. In fact, I submit that my ambition is itself the biggest reason for my successes. (See my previous post about hubris.) Sorry if you got dragged along one too many times, though. But you can forgive a girl after fifteen years, right? *sweetest smile*

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  9. Nothing to forgive, and I think hubris is an important ingredient in any success. Insecurity is the other one, and you have that, too.

    One lesson I'm trying to teach my daughters is that everything you do should come with two equal reactions. "I did something I should be proud of," and "compared to what I could do, this is nothing." Kept strongly in mind it can both keep them driven to improve and confident that they are valuable and able.

    John

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