I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about my current WIP; far more time than actually writing it. I think about it as I making dinner, as I'm getting ready for bed, certainly before I go to sleep. I mutter dialogue in the car, which would explain why I am the recipient of the occasional odd look. (actually, that had better be the reason!) I'm happiest when I know where I am in the story so when I actually open up the laptop and start typing I've got a fairly good idea what I'm going to write.
Some writers prefer to create freely. They sit down and let the words flow and let the story lead them instead of them leading the story. Honestly, this method would never ever work for me. I like knowing how deep and how warm the pool is before I jump in. I'm sure an argument could be made that writing is a creative pursuit, so the more creativity in the process the better. I understand this; but it's not for me.
Of course, things happen. Characters say things I wasn't expecting them to say which may start a new subplot or show me a new motive. That's great. Humourous exchanges or situations occur when I wasn't expecting them; that's great too. I don't want to think of myself as a mindless drone endlessly tapping away on the keyboard, but I do want to be in charge.
I outline. I do fairly extensive character biographies. I know who dies and whodunnit. I know why. I know why every suspect would have committed the crime. I know who likes who and who dislikes who. In short, I don't start writing until I know the road. I'm all for surprises and inspirations, but I like being able to know immediately that an idea, although fun or interesting, isn't going to help the plot or the subplots.
Who's in charge when you write? Is it you or is it the story?
At first I am in charge. I have the idea, the rough plotline in mind, and a few key characters. But once the story starts coming alive, the characters start living in my head. Oftentimes they wake me up in the middle of the night DEMANDING that I get up and write something they want to do or say.ReplyDelete
Marvin D Wilson
This new project is totally different than my memoir was. I feel completely out of control in this one. I'm learning to go with it, though, and see where it takes me.ReplyDelete
Old Silly; I've never been woken up by my characters but I have had them argue their case rather indignantly some mornings!ReplyDelete
Karen; Your new project sounds very exciting. Best of luck and every good wish.
I'd say I'm in charge, but even while trying to follow my outline, if it doesn't seem to be working or I'm being taken in a different direction, I go willingly.ReplyDelete
I kind of share control. I have an ending scene, characters and a basic plot in mind before I start. The rest comes with a mixture of thinking first and seeing what happens as I type. The mystery isn't the main element of this story. I think pure mysteries take a lot more pre-planning - at least they would for me!ReplyDelete
It's probably 50/50 for me. Sometime I take the lead, sometime the story does. When the story takes the lead I ALWAYS listen. I may end up rewriting some areas or thinking about what the story says for a while before continuing one way or the other, but I always listen.ReplyDelete
Elspeth - As always, you ask such an interesting question!! For me, my characters are firmly in charge. In fact, there are times when I don't write (although I should) because they haven't yet told me what's going to happen. I begin with a plot outline, like many people do, but after that, I wait until my characters tell me their stories. I find that when I try to take charge, mhy characters are flat, the dialogue trite and stale, and the delete button necessary. When I shut up and let my characters do the work, it's just better stuff. And I work less hard ; ).ReplyDelete
Carolyn; That would seem to be a very sensible approach.ReplyDelete
Jemi; Mysteries do take planning (or they do for me, anyway!) I think my system is very close to what you've described.
Carol; Listening is key, isn't it? I try to remember though that sometimes the characters are wrong.
Margot; You've made a very good point; we can't force our writing as that is when it becomes flat and dull. I do believe, however, that sometimes a little push is necessary.
There's only one place in my life where I'm in charge, and that's in my writing!ReplyDelete
If any character has the nerve to talk back to me, I simply kill him/her. Usually one killing is all it takes for the rest to fall quickly in line.
Alan; All hail the Orloff! Brilliant. Killing does wonders doesn't it? Makes 'em shake.ReplyDelete
I am in charge of all of my characters. ALL of them. Okay, except for Myrtle. She's a diva.ReplyDelete
Mystery Writing is Murder
I hope I am in charge! Even for a flash piece of 400 words, I usually write down short notes before the real piece. For me, planning a novel also includes an outline of each chapter, and I write from a few lines to a few pages about the characters before I set out, plus a time line, info about the houses the live in and such.ReplyDelete
Anytime I think I'm in charge.... LOLReplyDelete
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I do a little of both, Elspeth. I love thinking the story out while I'm peeling carrots or watering plants, but I also love the surprises that come while I'm typing and a character does something unexpected. This is fascinating stuff. I wish I could figure out how my mind works and what happens in my brain during the writing process. It's a mystery.ReplyDelete
Wellll, I like to think I am in control of everything, but in realty...not so much. I love outlining. But I let the characters tell me if there are changes. I agree with Patricia, I love when I am typing the story and suddenly the characters do or say something that's not scripted (outlined).ReplyDelete
I would think the best stories are written when all that the author is doing is just letting the characters be.ReplyDelete