What I Meant to Say, Not a Marathon

Blog No. 375

sourceI’m going to try again. Last week, I meant to write a post about the way I do some of my writing. I had been chatting with a friend about what we were both working on and how we’re handling it. I happened to be racing to finish the third draft of Broadcast Wasteland (now onto the fourth). She mentioned that she found the differences in our approach interesting, and said that I should do a post about it. Then, instead, I pulled an old man rant out of nowhere and the blog was about how I wish I could keep all my communication methods straight. Swing-and-a-miss. Here I am, a week later, to try again, though. I’ll try to keep on topic, but I make no promises.

It’s been a few weeks now, lets see if I can remember it all correctly. Apologies for the holes in my memory. They match the holes in my head. She, my friend who lives in another city and is working on a novel (among other time consuming things) said that her “novel writing process is more like painting — big strokes first, then filling in details.” I found that to be an interesting concept. I think it’s a similar method to what Christian does. He plans things out, writes the bulk of the story, then adds more and more each pass. It’s a method that seems to promote building something. It may be something that fits with horror, where atmosphere is as important anything else, but my out-of-town friend writes science fiction, like me, so there must be something else I’m not getting.

giphyObviously, what works for some people won’t work for others, and to each their own (especially with creating something). As I told my friend, I feel like my method is more like a long run. (Totally different metaphor). I don’t know if I would say marathon. For some reason that implies a kind of preparedness that I’m not comfortable claiming. It’s similar, though. When I start, I know I have a long way to go, and I can often see the next checkpoint up ahead, but I don’t always know what’s between them. I know the start. I know the end, but I don’t know what comes in between them. It goes back to that planning vs the word I hate, pantsting. It’s one of those ridiculous dichotomies where you’re supposed to be one or another and nearly everyone is some mix of both.

I’ve tried to plan, but the more I do, the less I stick to the plan. Instead, I find a beginning and an end, set up some points in-between, and go for a run. (I’ve been trying to up my time too, but the course keeps changing with each book). My friend has a wall with cards taped to it. Arrows point from one thing to another. It’s for a different thing than her novel, but she’s doing something similar for that. It’s a kind of organization that I respect. (I’m a big fan of things being organized and planned in my life). I do that with the big picture, what projects to do, when they have to be done, and in what order. For the books themselves, though, I have too much fun losing myself in the weeds. It means that I have giphy-1to work hard on the second draft (or third in the case of Broadcast) to make it all fit and flow, but it works for me the same way building the story in passes works for others. I think different stories come out of both methods, but in the same way, different stories come out of different people (even with the same idea).

Anyway. I hope that was kind of interesting. I may have more news about Broadcast soon. (I’d better it’s supposed to be out in April). I hope to be done the fourth draft by today. It’s mostly a quick read-through to make sure the things I changed in the third draft haven’t ruined anything. Then it’s off to the beta reads. Exciting, terrifying. Oh well. It’s the difficult stuff that leads to the best results.

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