I’ve said this before – I am a Pantser. When I start writing I have an idea, maybe a couple of characters and an end point but not much idea of what happens in between. But off I go anyway, letting the story pull me forward, sometimes finding what the characters choose to do or not do as surprising as if someone else had written the story. It can be an exhilarating feeling, words coming from my fingers as fast as I can type them, the story pouring onto the page.
Oh, I’ve tried the whole planning thing, laying out the chapters and what I expect to have happen to each character, the whole thing building to a neat and tidy solution. But then I start to write and the characters come to me, pulling my hair back to whisper in my ear, tapping me on the shoulder during my morning walk.
‘we would never do that’
‘I’m actually interested in this other character’
‘this happened to me as well’
‘I’m not such a bad guy’
And I have to give in, knowing in my heart, or that spot under the breastbone where such feelings reside, that what they are saying is absolutely true. That they know, better than I do, it will all work out in the end.
Only thing is, writing like this makes structure a bit of an unwieldy beast. I’m wrestling with it at the moment as I make a final structural edit to No Quarter before sending it to my editor. I feel like an old time lion tamer with my chair and whip, shouting at all the paragraphs to get it together and make sense, dammit, while they roar and claw at the air, unhappy to be pushed around. But we’re getting there. I’ve had to add a few extra scenes, plus realised there was a whole section where time of day and weather were pushed aside, when they actually needed to be part of things. And as it’s the second part in a serial, more threads are coming into the weave, new characters and storylines taking their place in the story.
I confess, I do have my moments where I wish it was all laid out in front of me as orderly notes. I’ve gone as far as to write a small list of some of the main characters, just for continuity’s sake. And I have a small pile of paper with notes scribbled on, various colours of pen, which I refer to as I bring it all together. But that’s as far as the planning goes, I’m afraid.
So how does your writing garden grow? Is it orderly rows of well planned chapters, or a wilderness of tangled plotlines you struggle to pull into place?
PS I am looking forward to Eurovision tonight – how about you?!