Friday, September 20, 2013

Writing and "Found Objects" and Beachcombing



Hi there! So. On the ol' plotting versus "pantsing" question, I've just had a thought that pretty well expresses why, I think, plotting only gets me so far. Thought I'd share. 

I plot. I do. I think and scheme. I "what if" this and I "what if" that, and I brainstorm my way through labyrinths of plot possibilities. Over and over. But, like I said, that only gets me so far. Any kind of neat and tidy outline of an entire novel defies me, and this morning, going over some recently written chapters, I had a moment of clarity. I was struck by how something that arose entirely in the moment, in the depth of the writing, was beginning to take on a fairly great significance in the story. I can't say what it is, of course, only that I've been writing this book for a year, and it only popped onto the page last week, and when it did, I thought, "Hm, that's interesting," but I didn't know what it might portend, and then I watched with fascination as it grew ... interestinger and interestinger. 

It wasn't something I could have planned. It was the result of submerging myself in a scene and letting things happen. Some of the things that happen get deleted, and others take root and grow and become ... the important stuff. 

And I thought how the whole process is kind of like found-object art. You can have an idea of what you want to make, but if your medium is found objects, then your end result is going to depend upon what objects you find along the way. 

Writing a novel, I have an idea what I want to make. And I start out with some of my materials before me (especially writing a final book in a trilogy), but during the entire process of writing, I'm, like, walking on a beach picking up driftwood pieces and sea glass and considering incorporating them. And then it happens that I find a SWORD lying on the beach, and an iridescent beetle, and a silk slipper, and ... a Spanish fan, and a can of olives (okay, I throw that right back), and brass calipers tangled in seaweed. 

And if I hadn't been walking on the beach (i.e. writing scenes), I never would have found them. If I were to just sit back on the porch of my beach house (I wish) with binoculars (i.e. outlining) I'd never find anything tactile or intimate or small or textured or alive. But I *can* plan out my walk from up there, and see if there are any sea monster skeletons or beached pirate ships I might like to scout out.

Ah, my love of writing metaphors! So, that picture is a little assemblage guy we got at an art show, and there were lots of little guys in the same general shape, but they were all unique depending on what bits and pieces had gone into them, and look at this:




Isn't that WOW? A driftwood and scrap wood elephant sculpture, so amazing!


Okay. Back to beachcoming with me. In the comfort of my writing room, that is. Cheers!






10 comments:

Laurence King said...

Perfect, perfect metaphors, Laini! This is EXACTLY how I feel about writing, and you couldn't have put it any better. Back to beachcoming myself...

Bob said...

I'm interested in the thing that became interestinger and interestinger!

Christine Monson said...

Hey! I think that sword is mine. I was practicing my sword techniques on the beach the other day. And accidently left it behind when I ran back home to fetch a can opener. (Swords don't make great can openers.)

I'm part planner, part pantser. The percentage scale sways and dips in different directions each day. Love the writing metaphors.

Betty said...

I'm a lifelong reader, but I am not a writer. I could never understand how anyone could write the stories I read. Your metaphors make more sense than anything I heard. I guess I'm a porch sitter...but always with a good book. Thank you

Kristan Hoffman said...

Yes! Great metaphor. Totally the middle ground that I was talking about (and I think Stephanie too) when you last blogged about this topic.

- D. said...

Laini, I just wanted you to know that your posts on writing are SO HELPFUL to me!

This is the first year I've committed to finishing a novel. I've plotted other novels to literal death before (perfectionist / control freak trait), so now, I'm trying pantsing.

Or rather, I'm trying exploring. I have a map in hand and sights I'd like to hit, but am keeping an eye open for interesting routes and objects.

And it is LIBERATING. It is EXACTLY as how you've described it!

Book lover said...

Hey I read your book fairies of dreamdark Black bringer do you have a second book you should magpie and talon are JUST falling in love and as a problem it could be vesper ruling a demon army and gained enough power to hold a djin hosteage

Kaye M. said...

This is just the perfect metaphor. I've always plotted to death, but this is the first time I am approaching an idea and trying to keep my mind's eye open as to what other magical things might be woven in with the initial idea. I have a general idea, but I'm shying away from putting down more than that, and I have a "love list", like a Bingo card of what I'd like to find, but there's some wild card slots mixed in.

tone almhjell said...

I love your metaphors, too. And as some people have been saying above, your advice really HELPS. There's no finger-wagging, no "ten ways to NOT start your novel", no "avoid these words," no "what agents hate in a manuscript".

No nos.

Just delicious wonder and excitement and THAT is what writing should be about. Your Not For Robots site is my go-to place for writing comfort and inspiration. This one should go up there, I think, because it has all the magic of soft glass in your pocket.

Krista Kays Adventures said...

I attended Art Prize in Grand Rapids, MI today. Hundreds of amazing and beautiful pieces all over the city on display. As I studied one piece I uttered the words, "how do they come up with so.many interesting ideas?" I answered my own question quickly because I have had people ask me the same question. I am a writer and I know the little voices which fill my mind with new ideas. I am a writer but this ah ha moment was the first time I realized that I am an artist. My 4 year old thought I was a little silly as I had this conversation with myself out loud.

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