Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Great Day at the Office

I began writing as a detailed planner, my engineering background demanded it. I’d take an idea and play with it until I could see its potential and then build a structure to present all its elements in a logical pattern, with mini climaxes dotted a precise intervals, subplots initiated and carried forward to their culmination, everything in its precise place. Only then would I start to write. (I tell the story of using a very complex project planning software, one I used professionally and taught others how to use effectively, to plan one story, complete with critical paths etc, and it’s true.)

These days I’m more likely to begin with a character, a general idea of how I’d like him/her to develop, and dump him/her into a situation I think might provide this development. I then write forward with the only goal of having my character react naturally and let the situation develop, making me as much the observer as the reader and probably with less idea how the story will develop(which requires a gigantic leap of faith on my part).

What happens next always surprises and delights me. A some point in the story, nearly thirty thousand words into it in this case, everything clicks together and I have the complete structure in my mind.(Not the details, just he structure.) My reaction is always the same. I sit grinning like a fool, then get up and prowl around the house, hugging to myself the feeling of success, until I can sit down at the keyboard and begin turning it into reality.

The two thousand words, I’d struggled to produce each day to this point, flow onto the screen so easily I’m tempted to keep going, but I don’t. I have a life away from the keyboard and it deserves my attention.

The end of the first draft beckons now, (from thirty thousand words in the future) with its final skim through before I put it aside and begin another manuscript and go back to the struggle until its time to return and do the hard work of crafting my creation into a readable whole. (It usually takes me twice as long as the first draft to achieve this and I have one waiting for me.)

Back to writing for me.

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