Saturday, July 21, 2012
Is This Any Way to Write a Book?
It's been said that authors are divided into two camps: Planners and Pantsers.
A planner outlines her book. A pantser works by the seat of her pants.
I do a bit of both. Right now, I'm 25,000 words into Kiki Lowenstein Book #6. When I proposed this book to my publisher, I had one idea of where it would start and how it would go. But after giving it more time to percolate, I decided that I needed to follow up on the last book before I could move ahead.
Right out of the gate, I could see Kiki and the impact the climax of READY, SCRAP, SHOOT had on her. I could tell she wasn't the same woman who was my protagonist at the start of the series. In the first few chapters, I wanted to show how the constellation of characters around her had also changed. So I did.
I knew where I wanted to go, what dangers were ahead, and where each character was in his/her life journey, but after 25,000 words, I needed to orchestrate what would happen to each person and when it would happen. I also needed to figure out the clues and the resolutions that would provide satisfaction to my readers.
So I stepped away from my keyboard. On full-sized sheets of paper, I started flow charts, detailing each individual thread of the book, who was involved, what happened, and so on. When I finished, I had three major flow charts. I also wrote down the theme of this book, as all my books have a social theme. This one is bullying.
With that in mind, I reviewed the flow charts. Where did I need to emphasize the bullying? Where did I need to clearly delineate the bully and the victim?
Next, I cut paper into narrow white strips. On these, I wrote snippets of scenes, comments, revelations to characters, and actions.
What you see above it all those small strips laid out on my dining room table. Once I had them all in front of me, I gathered them into days of action, working to sequence them logically--and also to swing the action from one character to another for variety. Now I have six stacks of slips. From these I'll write the rest of my book.
Any questions? Thoughts? How do the rest of you write if you do?