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!