Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Plotting or Pantster?

I've been told that in the writing world, there's two types of writers: "plotters" and "pantsters". There's people who make organized, neat outlines before they sit down to write, aka "plotters", and then there's people who just sit down at a word processing document and they just write, the "pantsters" as in, "flying by the seat of their pants". I've discovered I'm not either or, I'm both!

I love writing and of course, knowing what's the plot will be ahead of time helps a TON. And sometimes, you end up developing more deeper levels of characteristics on your world or your character's personality. You've got an idea, but getting from the beginning to the end is kind of difficult.

I've tried writing only the exciting parts and the endings, and trying to fill in the in-between, and that's a mess. I'll tell you why: when you try to fill in the blank spaces, you have to make it usable to the plot. And that's where I literally end up developing new layers and facets to characters that affect the scenes towards the end and then I have to alter the ending! I end up falling in love with these smaller characters and they end becoming bigger characters. And then I am stuck editing the later parts because of these changes when I try to write ahead.

So, recently, in the last two or three years or so, I've gone from complete pantster to semi-plotter. I have to plot out certain types of scenes, like climax, to make sure that I have an idea of what needs to happen next, what needs to be revealed, etc. Planning out scenes like this has made me value writing out what I want to do next. I've realized I can't meander through what I'm writing just to pad it with enough words to be considered a novel. That leads me to making a rough outline for the whole book.

I've used the Snowflake method (although it drives one of my best friends insane) and I downloaded Snowflake software to plot better. It's an older method of plotting and is somewhat outdated, but a lot of writers still use it. It creates an entire skeleton proposal with character outlines, multiple plot synopses of different lengths, and chapter outlines/bibles. As much as it helps me, I don't like the chapter outline part. Why? Because sometimes a part of the story you've plotted ends up being longer than you thought it would be and it has to cover two to three chapters. And then, you might discover holes in the plot! Then what? I usually fill the chapter information into the Snowflake software after I've finished the rough draft of the manuscript so it matches up.

Because of this, I have to write in a linear fashion: chapter by chapter in progression. Unlike Doctor Who, I can't jump around and write all "Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey", even with an outline:

While I love the Doctor, this is not me when I'm writing.

Plotting or Pantsting, which kind of writer are you?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Worst Part of Writing Is...

I don't think anybody has ever really asked me what I like and don't like about writing, so here's my "con" list about it, because, y'know, I like to interview myself when I'm bored.
From the Commitments... Excellent movie with an even better soundtrack!
Q: So, Eleni, tell me what are the worst things about writing?
A: Funny that you asked! I'd love to put all my insecurities out there for the world to know! Sure, I'll tell you all the things that make me insecure and drive me nuts about writing!
  • The muses speak when they want to.
  • The idea in your head is a wonderful, beautiful thing, but when you get it on paper... blah.
  • The amount of time you spend working on a piece that gets published and the amount you get paid usually ends up at only pennies per hour.
  • If you want to get rich, don't look to get rich by writing. Don't write for the money. Write for yourself, your legacy, your ideas.
  • Sometimes, writing is something you need to do and get done, but real life often interrupts until you have time to write and then... nothing.
  • Writer's butt. Need I say more?
  • Plotting scenes and dialogue out in your head in public and then you realize, you're talking to yourself... oops, am I the only one that does that?
  • Research. Otherwise, you spend all this time writing on a subject and you've gotten a fatal detail wrong... argh. It's all garbage, then.
  • Grammar. I know, I know! I should know it, but I still doubt myself all the friggin' time!
  • Commas. I hate it when people tell me, "put a comma in where you'd naturally pause when speaking". This messes me up horribly because this is NOT a good rule, "put a comma where ever you'd like." I'm the Queen of Comma Splices. If you ask me where a comma goes and it's not an Oxford Comma you'll probably find me curled up in the corner in the fetal position, sucking my thumb.
  • Possessives. I know really intelligent people who say, "Update from the Gordons's."I start to doubt my own knowledge of plural possessives and I drive myself insane.
  • The cost of quality editors.
  • Marketing-- that's terrifying to me!
  • Promotion-- I can't promote myself worth a flip! I get so scared of asking people for favors, I psyche myself out!
  • Querying. Hashtag I hate querying. It's like going through Sorority Recruitment all over again. Will I get a bid? ::sobs::

    And my biggest one...
  • That people will laugh at what I've written.
UPDATE! I found this from a friend on Facebook today!

So, this short list is only the beginning of my fears as a writer. What are yours?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Four types of 'plot' over 'world-building'

I love writing, but I'm more into creating a world: the rules, the characters, how they buck the system. Plot usually comes later and is more difficult for me, oddly.
Honestly, this is what it feels like when I finish a book and realize I've just rewritten Harry Potter.
Also, a very flattering picture of me.
I think it's because I wanted to be a series writer when I was little, and I started reading series books like the Baby-Sitter's Club, Sleepover Friends, the Fabulous Five, etc. I loved the idea of creating characters and having all kinds of adventures to write about with them, but not having to plan them out.

It's fun, but no editor really wants to buy a series unless you've got credit behind your name. Most of the time, you have a better chance with trying to sell a stand-alone book when you're new to professional writing. That kind of puts me in a difficult position, since I'm kind of crappy with plot.

Plot is essential to the book, though; it's important to have one. How do you write a query letter to sell it? How do you explain the book and why it's so great and it would be great to read it? What would be the blurb on the back of the book when it's published? You can't just meander along with the conflict and action of the book.

In high school, I had an English teacher in high school tell me, "There's only four types of conflict out there: man vs man; man vs nature; man vs self; and man vs machine." I take that as pretty consistent with everything I've ever read or tried to write. Sometimes, I've got these fabulous characters and a really cool world, but I don't know exactly what to do with them, so I sort of have to rely on these four conflict types to come up with something.

Which is easier for you? Plot or World-building?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hobbies outside Writing

I love writing.

It keeps me sane.

It's been the thing that got me through some tough times, and it probably will be in the future. I'm safe in my imaginary world and I get to write stuff down and read it again, because it's fun like that.

But I do have other things I love doing, other hobbies, and hobbies are important to break up the monotony and loneliness of writing. My favorite hobbies are knitting, embroidery, sewing, costuming, music, gaming, politics, and reading.

1. Reading-- because reading is really cool. Stephen King says, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write." And it's true. I get inspired when I read and start coming up with new ideas.

2. Costuming/sewing-- because what's cooler than making someone into something they weren't before? And I love the theatre. It's so fun, especially backstage. That's where all the fun happens.

3. Music-- luckily, I live in Music City USA, better known as Nashville. No, we aren't just country and honky tonk. A lot of hit musicians live here, and it's not abnormal to run into them, not just country stars. Any given night, if you know the right places to look, you can find a concert going on, and it's usually pretty good music. Indie music is a big deal.

4. Gaming-- I admit it. I'm a noob to gaming, but it's fun. My favorite games so far are Elder Sign and Cards Against Humanity. I also play bar trivia with Geeks Who Drink every Sunday night.

5. Knitting-- fun, but I always end up dropping stitches, darnit!

6. Embroidery-- this is my adult coloring book.
Urban Threads is my favorite site for patterns!

7. Politics-- okay, not a great subject for this blog.

So what do you like to do when it comes to hobbies?