Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oh, Give Me The Map

Cursor… Cursor… Cursor…

This past week I’ve struggled with a new project. I’ve completed five books and started a handful in-between them. I’ve always started with a kernel of an idea and poof I’d take off down the story path without a care in the world. I’d type and think and type and think and the story came to life as if it had mind of its own. Four-hundred pages— geesh that’s nothing to write. This week however, I thought more about the characters, their wants and needs and how those desires would play against the hero and heroine and of course a villain.

I’ve always dubbed myself a panster, but I have this gut wrenching feel my writing style is changing, somewhat. I’ve had this nagging tiny voice in the back of my mind all week, waking me up in the middle of the night, saying, “I’d think what if and why and then ask more what if questions before you commit yourself to that direction.” I’m not a plotter by anyone’s description. I don’t make charts or time lines or collages. I just can’t sit still long enough or think that way. So is this change a bad thing?

After tormenting over not exactly having flying keys this past week, I’ve come to the conclusion that the change is a good thing. In recent years, I’ve learned that editing is part of the process of producing a good book and according to most authors I’ve spoken to, editing can take longer than writing the story. Passes must be made and layers have to be added to make the characters complex, scenery vivid, dialogue real and the writing tight. The only way the editing process can be shortened is if the author has a sense where he or she is going in the first place. So instead of starting off on a journey with just the sun at back while black clouds loom ahead, I’m taking a compass, a map and some equipment with me.

As you racked up books, have you noticed a change in your style?

Today, Wednesday, I’ll be away for most of the day, having a new grandbaby , but I’ll return this evening and tomorrow to answer any comments.

Have a wonderful day. AJ


  1. My story is fine, it's all the rest that needs work! Passive here, fragment there, it's a tough job all right.

  2. Maybe this is the same nw ailment I have--writing taking off in a new direction. You're right, we do need to stop or slow down sometimes and figure out exactly what we're doing and where it's taking us. Good thoughts. Celia