I am a panster for the majority of my writing, and am unapologetic because of it. There is always so much time once the story has been set free on the page, for editing and revision.
However, as my current NaNoWriMo project is the third book in The Delphic Murders – Killer’s Match, and is the culmination of the series, I find myself re-reading the other two manuscripts to ensure ‘loose ends’ are tied up, descriptions of vital elements are the same and cross referencing is correct. In other words, this means I am in the realm of a planster too.
The idea for this crime trilogy came fully formed several years ago. Of course, when the idea stuck I did not fully understand the complexity of such a writing project. It has been a steep learning curve, with research into writing a three book plot arc and the individual plotting of each book, it’s characters and locations. The books are set in Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton respectively – The Elusive Trail, The Tainted Search and Killers Match.
At the time of writing my November total is 27, 811 so half way there with a small lead. I will be utilizing a couple of vacation days to press forward with the manuscript to ensure I make the goal before the 30th November.
Let me know how your challenge is going, which genre your are writing, and the title.
One of the main questions I am asked is how do I write and what is my process. It may seem like a simple question, but it results in a complex answer that maybe wasn’t expected. Every writer has their own process, but it is normally split between writer called a panster (free flow) or plotter. A plotter has note cards, sticky notes, a story board, or some other framework they utilize to plot and plan the narrative. The panster (free flow writer) does not use any method, although, they may jot down some notes, such as character names and relationships, settings and continuity points as they write.
I am a free flow writer and always have been (until recently, I’ll get to that shortly). I tried to use the ‘romance format’ once, which resulted in the one and only time I had writer’s block, so never again! I will try to explain as best I can my process here, so here goes.
When an idea forms in my mind resulting from a prompt, an overheard conversation, a life experience, a photo or object, a dream or something else, I either let it brew in my mind to see if it will gather momentum or it propels me into writing several paragraphs. Gradually characters form, a setting materializes, and an initial story emerges, whether I ponder or write the idea. There is no specific plot or storyarc at this point, just the first instance of the narrative.
As the idea takes hold of my imagination, I allow the story to tell itself, sounds weird, I know, but it really does flow from mind to fingertip. I find it’s best not to force the narrative, but let it take its own pace. On multiple occasions I have thought the story will go in one direction only for it to go in a completely random direction. This for me is the fun of writing not fully knowing where the characters will lead me. As I write, the story plays like a movie in my head, I ‘see’ the settings, the characters, their lives and just like a movie have no idea what will happen. I do, however, become familiar with my characters, their backstory, motivations and personalities.
Some may say my writing process is actually ‘automatic writing’ but it is not, I do have ultimate control over the narrative adding my viewpoints for upcoming scenes and character development – I just don’t force or coerce my Muse, but allow the flow to come. I hope that makes some kind of sense, as I said it is difficult to explain the inner workings of a writers mind.
As I mentioned earlier, I usually write free flow, that changed when the idea for my detective trilogy, The Delphic Murders came to me. The initial idea was like a lightning bolt – three female detectives, three Canadian cities and their murder investigations. I even came up with the three separate book titles in quick session. An Elusive Trail (Book 1), The Tainted Search (Book 2) & Killers Match (Book 3). This resulted in my having to plan each book for timeline, character descriptions, plot arcs and the relationships within each book. This was a new technique for me and I was able to gather information on how to do it properly from various sources. I found a new skill to add to my writing repertoire!
Do you have a question for me about my writing technique, or how I develop an idea? I am more than happy to answer your queries.