Monday, November 03, 2014
Beginning, Ending, and Plot
By Keith N Fisher
We did it again. We successfully passed through All Hallowed Eve and into All Saints Day. Now, we’re running headlong into Thanksgiving. After that is, dare I say it? Yes, there are only fifty-one shopping days until Christmas. Assuming you don’t leave the family feast to get in on the big sales.
This year, as in other years, we went from October to November without incident. Many of my writer friends began their ritual. They stashed their treats and supplies and locked themselves away to spend the month in the writing marathon, called Nano-Wrimo.
From November first, to the end of the month, they write, hoping to reach their word goals. For some, it’s a chance to unleash their imaginations. To climb into the zone and start a journey with their characters. I’ve never done Nano, and there are reasons, but I won’t talk about them now.
In the comments on Facebook and other media recently, I’ve read about the drafting and advanced planning, some writers were doing. Their idea is to make a plan so they don’t get stuck in the middle of the month, with nothing to write. That meticulous kind of writing can be liberating. It can also stifle creativity.
We’ve been over this ground before with the drafting versus seat of your pants debate, but isn’t Nano supposed to be about seat of your pants? Like I said, I’ve never done Nano, but I think drafters are cheating themselves.
There is a pure rush of creativity that comes from discovery writing. It’s addicting, and I hate to see others miss out on that feeling. With that being said, however, You should know, I have written books that were in my head, beginning, middle and end, before I wrote a word. Other books have been entirely written by the seat of my pants.
To place yourself in front of a blank page and write words that beget other words is like watching your child walk for the first time. Then again, we are. Aren’t our characters and stories like children? Some of them are our greatest accomplishments.
The hardest writing I’ve ever done is trying to follow an outline. When the beginning and ending is written and I must write a scene that gets me from point A to point B. I have to rein in my characters so we don’t drift from the plan.
I’ve written a couple of books that way. In one, the ending turned out different because the characters had other ideas. The other was pure labor. The lesson there is be flexible. It’s true, you might come to the end of a concept without anywhere to go from there, but most times, following your internal vision makes the plot far better.
Good luck with your writing—see you next week.