Thursday, August 27, 2009
My Two Cents
Hi, it’s Leann Harris. Let me chime in with this “how I write” topic. I teach a writing course at the local community college. One class I teach is finding your own method of writing.
I am a plotter or as I like to call it in my class a linear writer. I write the first three chapters, get to know my characters, then write the synopsis. I stay very close to that synopsis. I have a friend who I critiqued with. She would never bring chapters, which drove me crazy. The way she explained it to me is she saw her book as a big picture. As she wrote, it wasn’t in order. She might write a scene in the middle of the book, then the opening scene, then a scene close to the end of the book. And she wrote everything in one file.
When she told me this, I thought she was crazy. Oh dear, how could anyone write that way? I was telling another friend this and she smiled at me and said she wrote that way, too. No, no, that can’t be. How can you write that way?
I thought they were both nuts, but the more people I talked to, I found the world of writers divided into plotters and big picture people. Once I discovered that truth, a lot of things made sense to me. Ever go to a workshop where someone is describing how they do something (place whatever you can think of) and you scratch your head and say “Huh?” Maybe that writer is a big picture writer and you’re a linear writer.
I was feeling pretty good about understanding the world of writing when I ran into a very ugly problem. I was writing a contracted book. I was closing in on the black moment and I was 100 pages short. After a few hours of panic, I realized I wrote one of the ending scenes early. I had to fill in to that pivotal point. Oh, I hated that. Of course the heroine had amnesia and I was stuck trying to find ways to fill pages. The heroine learned a lot about the hero she didn’t know…and so did I. This phenomenon has happened to me several times. It makes me crazy every time it happens.
I will never be a Big Picture writer. I am Linear. I’ve heard people say about writing a synopsis that it just takes the excitement out of writing the book. What I tell them is if I want to go from Denver to New Orleans, I look at a map and discover what roads I need to take, instead of hopping into my car and start driving. It saves time.
I know where I am going, I just don’t know all the things I’ll see on the trip.