June 6, 2005

Up to the lab to see what's on the slab

I think it's time for a little experimenting.

I've been reading a lot lately (and discussing online) about the approach to getting a novel out of a writer's head and down on paper. The approach, mind you, not the development of the idea in the first place. (Some writers call the latter step composting, but I don't like the concept that my ideas are rotting, so I think I'm going to call it stewing or simmering.)

Now, there's a LOT of different views on what's best. Some like to outline laboriously before ever putting a single word under the Chapter One heading, whereas others prefer to strap in, grip the keyboard and see where the sucker takes them. I don't think any one approach is "right". There's an old saying that what works, works because it works. But the reason I'm looking into this now is that ever since writing my first novel, I've been actively filling a box (and hard drive) with partials. Even on my first novel, things were...um...uneven.

For the first one, I just started writing with no idea where I was going. This actually went pretty well for a while. Then, at about the 3/4 point, I stalled. It sat like that for over 6 months. Finally, at the urging of some good writer friends, I went at it again. I went back and outlined what I'd done, and then continued the outline to the end. Then I sat down and did my best to follow the outline. It got done, but I'd much prefer a less time-consuming and soul-wracking approach.

In a previous post, I spoke about The Snowflake Method of writing a novel. This is one of the many systems out there which provide steps to follow from idea to finished novel. In theory, all it does is break the task of writing a novel up into digestible chunks. But, there is a map to follow.

So, the experiment I'm launching myself on is this: I'm going to start writing two novels pretty much at the same time. One, I'm going to outline a little, do a little character sketching, figure out a few high points (all of this is actually done already) and then I'm just going to start writing.

For the other, I'm going to try and stick religiously to The Snowflake Method. We'll see how it goes. If nothing else, I think this will show me the way I function best. Worse case, I'll have some more partials for THE BOX. Best case, I'll have two novels written by the end of the summer and some insight into how my muse works. (Most likely I'm going to end up with one novel and a slightly heavier box, but what the hell.)

I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

Devdra said...

That is a great idea. I have, as you know, started a novel last November using the official 'seat of my pants' method. I never completed it and it really seems to be 3 incomplete stories (unlikely that any of them will reach novel length).

You are motivating me to, one way or another, complete those stories. That way, I can start another knowing that I will complete it.

After all, practice makes ... readable?