Dana scurried around in the hubbub of the party still in full swing, her head dashing in and out of …
I tend to generally write a poem that fits a novel I’m writing, and this I usually do without realizing. Must be the fact that that story subconsciously stays in my mind.
Carefree Steps is something I wrote and rewrote couple of days ago and it’s supposed to fit the new spec Ebony & Frank. But something doesn’t feel right or sound right. (The flu has muddled my brains!!)
Would love an opinion or two on this if any one is game. 🙂
Into the darkness
strays carefree steps,
the dying light
sleeps amongst the land of promises
by morrow, the light will bring everything
which by and large you passed
an age ago.
Seriously, I’m interested in seeing the differences out there. How long do writers brew, or rather stew on an idea before they begin writing it down? How long do you normally take? A couple of days, a few weeks, months maybe, or even years?
I normally take weeks if they are novels, and a day or less if they are short stories, poems etc. I take a couple of days for short scripts and a couple of months for features. The longest I’ve sat on a story before starting to write it is a few months.
In those months, what do you do? Do you plot the whole affair from beginning to end, or just major story arcs? Do you figure out your characters?
I find that I usually focus on story arcs and character profiles, but in saying that I don’t set these as immovable before I write them down. Even as I start writing, I know I have to get from A to D to J and eventually Z, but the whole planning (and I use this word loosely) can go out the window as I write without restraints.
Well, my dilemma here is that I have an idea, a very brief overall arc of the story and the two protagonists I’ll be writing about, but I am so tied up with other projects that I feel this will have to take a backseat for God knows how long. Is it wise to lay aside a story? What has been some of your experience? I’m kind of nervous that if I don’t at least brew on it for a little while, I’ll lose the story, the spark that inspired it.
All I know is that I have the title for the story already and the characters: Ebony & Frank.
The theme: recognizing one’s true self through the eyes of others.
(The following story is prompted by ‘it was a misty night’ line.)
I never thought I’d end up here. A shovel in hand, a dark raincoat supposedly keeping me safe from the downpour. In the middle of a forest with barely any light to see the ground where I stand. How did I end up here? I turned to stare at the body just a stretch way from me. A shiver coursed through my body. Never ever had I thought I’d be the one digging the shallow grave, slipping and sliding on the muddying ground.
I could occasionally hear the vehicle on the highway meters away. Every time one whizzed by, I’d be in a state of panic, afraid they’d hear the sound of the shovel hitting the wet, squelching ground. I was a law abiding citizen for heaven’s sake, not the cold blooded murderer I suddenly felt I was.
I worked through the straining muscle aches curtesy of a hard gym work out with Clive this night before. When the hole was big enough, I found myself in it, pulling the corpse till it pinned me to the bottom of the pit with its weight, forcing me to struggle to free myself.
I stood, covered head to toe in mud. Where had I ended up? This morning, I had been just another newshound chasing my headlines, and now… I resumed the dirt moving, unable to allow myself that thought. The sound of the rain hitting the coat provided some sort of solace, something I could focus my mind on, and I kept shoveling and shoveling the dirt till a small hint of a mound formed.
I stared at it. What had I done?
I sat in the car for ages. Couldn’t possibly bring myself to get out. Before I knew it, I was sprawled across the back seat, twisted like a pretzel, half falling into the gap between the seats. A hard knock had rapt on my window, startling me awake. Somehow, it was morning. I hit my head on the window handle hard as I went to get up. I looked out the window and there was Clive, staring at me through the glass.
‘You’d rather sleep in the car?’
I straightened and struggled to get out of the car, scrambling to free my feet of the raincoat I had used as a blanket. We had had a fight last night before I left work. ‘I must have dozed off.’
Clive’s eyebrows rose high. ‘In the backseat?’
‘I was really tired,’ I offered by way of explaining.
‘Why do you look like you went mud wrestling last night?’ He eyed me from toe to the top of my hair. I went rigid. How did I look? Was I looking suspicious? I mean, yes, I had muddy clothes and all, but no one would pin a murder on me, right? Right?
‘I went to interview for a story outback, and the tyre got bogged in the downpour,’ I lied. Big deal. I wasn’t about to tell him the truth, whether he was my soul mate or not.
‘Why didn’t you call road side assist?’
Shit! My phone! The last I remember of my phone was when Clive had called me in the middle of my digging session. What did I do after that? I patted myself down, every pocket I had.
‘You lost your phone?’
I looked up, utterly panicked. ‘Yes.’
‘Where did you last use it?’
An image of being pinned down by the very thing I was trying to bury sprung to mind. Shit.
Yes, you heard me right! (Or rather, read.)
If you fancy yourself as a writer, then you have to choose a camp (though there may be one or two of you who sit on the fence on this one). You are either a plotter, or, you are either a pantser.
First of all, let me explain the two terms:
Plotter = someone who plots out their entire story before they sit down and write.
Pantser = someone who rights off the seat of their pants, no planning, no plotting, you just sit down and you write, and somehow, the story takes shape.
So which one are you?
Me? I’m a pantser. I don’t plot, and I don’t plan. Not entirely. I will however spend about 5-10 minutes thinking about the core of the story, where I’d like it to go, and then I sit, and I write. That’s how it’s always been for me. I get an idea, and I’ll stew on it, or rather, think about it maybe a couple of days, no details, just the big pictures. Then I start writing if it is something I want to write.
I’ve written two novels thus far, countless poetry, some short stories, few short scripts and a few feature scripts. All of which have been a spontaneous act. Inspiration comes, hits me in the face, and I’m like, ‘Oh, that will make a good story’ and that’s that. I never knew how to explain my writing habits to others, and I’d be feeling so guilty when people ask me how long I spent working the story out. I’d read plenty of articles on other writers and their writing habits and rituals, and most of the time they would advice me to sit down and ‘plot’. Something I’m not very good at. I know this because I sat down one time prior to writing my second novel, and I tried to work out the plot. I have to say, I absolutely hated it. Felt like I had been shackled to the writing table and been threatened. It wasn’t freeing at all, nor spontaneous, so I gave it up and went back to my ‘organic’ writing. It felt natural, it felt comfortable, and most of all, it left me free to write as I felt most effective.
I was a pantser and I hadn’t known it. It was by accident that a colleague informed me about a writer’s tour visiting the local country library and thought I should attend it. I did. And one of the ‘Wordy Women’ writers actually brought up the word ‘pantser’ and explained what she meant by it, and in that moment I had found a word to describe the kind of writer I was, and that it was completely normal. I wasn’t alone!
So I dare to ask you, what kind of a writer are you? But let me tell you one thing, whatever your style, your approach is to writing, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are doing it wrong. What is right for me may not be right to you, and what is right for you will not promise to work for me with same gusto as it did for you. Find your own individual style, your own ritual, and stick to it.
Here’s one novel I wrote as a pantser: “In Strange Company” and guess what, readers have loved it and wouldn’t be able to tell that I did not plot this one out. Why not check out a sample from kindle and decide for yourself?
And keep writing!