For a while now, I’ve been puzzled by why my brain – so very well attuned to novels as a form – just doesn’t feel comfy with screen writing. I mean I love movies and I love narrative and I’m not big on writing setting, so shouldn’t it be a natural fit?
I’ve realised recently though that the reason might be very simple. My writing daemon often stops me doing things when he knows we aren’t ready to, and I suspect he’s been doing that here. I think he recognised something about screen writing that I didn’t. It requires planning. That thing which is anathema to me and my daemon.
This revelation led to an interesting question: Can a pure pantser like myself ever come at creating a screenplay? Maybe. Jury is still out on that. I do have some sneaky pantser ideas on how to tackle it, so we’ll see.
To inspire daemon and I to finally have a go, I’m doing a screen writing short course at a local university. I figure that I might as well hang out with a bunch of movie lovers and creative sorts while discussing movies a lot, even if I never write a screenplay. It cannot possibly be a bad way to spend a Thursday night.
I’m really enjoying my nameless novel. It’s a lot of fun to write. Though, because I stopped to do a bit of back-filling /editing I am, amusingly, only 10k further on than I was in Feb!
And there will probably be a pause now, while I take a little holiday (I don’t tend to write when I travel).
The book continues to unfold delightfully.
Though, it felt like it was going to be about an 80k project. Then I changed direction and it began to feel like only 60k. We’ll see. I’m about to start killing characters, so the aftermath will determine the length I think. Me and my pantser ways!
Who knows, maybe while I’m away I’ll be struck with inspiration for a title…
I only realised today that I didn’t actually post about the most exciting writing thing for the start of the year… A new novel! Yes, I saw in the new year with a new novel sized idea.
It isn’t gushing like Blurty or PAR, but I’m doing that deliberately so I don’t aggravate my shoulder, which was bugging me at the end of 2018 a bit. Slowing myself doesn’t seem to be hurting the process – I’m nearly 27K in already!
Another sci-fi, but lower on the sci this time, it’s essentially a futuristic gangster story. Writing daemon is very pleased, and I’m having a lot of fun in my usual “pantser” fashion.
The other writing-y thing of recent weeks (in fact, in time to welcome the Year of the Pig) was that I re-read PAR after, what, 10 months maybe of drawer time? That was interesting. The early chapters are a bit sucky – “was I drunk when I wrote these sentences?”- but the rest was a blast to read! Given it’s due another two drafts before it’s done, I’m not at all unhappy with that.
Not that I’ll head back to PAR until the new project is well underway – maybe even at 1st draft – but it’s nice to think on it while I wait. Speaking of the new project… it needs a moniker. Can’t call it “new project” forever… hmm… the “not very sci-fi”… the “ganster-sci”… still working on it.
A friend who is currently teaching script-writing asked me the other day if I use diagrams when plotting, or in any other way in my writing. It was an interesting question to be asked because I do, but not as a planner would. (Being a pure pantser, I don’t map stuff out at all before I write.)
Where I often find diagrams useful is in the process of editing a draft – particularly a scratch draft or a first draft – and I use them to examine logic. It might be that I know there’s a logic problem, or – as with PAR in recent weeks – I’ve got multiple sets of motivations feeding into movements and interactions, so I have to explore each set independently to check they hold up on their own and aren’t just serving the plot.
I also sometimes diagram to check how much time has passed over a sequence of chapters, as I lose track of how many days have gone by about as easily as my characters do!
Credit to my brain, it does a good job of getting logic and the passage of time right in the pantser chaos it prefers. I rarely find any big things wrong when I do my diagrams. They do, however, get me thinking about other things – probably because they get me looking at the story from different angles – and I find that interesting and often very valuable in itself.
Okay, with a work in progress nicknamed ‘the PAR’ it was inevitable I would make that joke some time… 🙂
But yes, it is running to form for a novel of mine right now. I’m so far into the story that I’m having trouble remembering what I did in earlier chapters! Which is usually the point at which I start to create a chapter map.
I’m not sure if it’s partly because I’m back to working in a straight word-processor for this, but in reality that can only be a contributing factor; all my novels have reached a stage where it’s too big to fit in my head. Of course, because of my pantser ways, I can never be entirely sure which version of a chapter/scene I ended up doing!
Side note on being a pantser: Apparently Lee Childs is one. This gives me a weird sense of… community. It’s a bit lonely out here on the pure-panter edge, as most of my writer peeps are either pure planners or planner-side-of-the-scale plantsers.
As you all know, I am an unashamed “pantser”. I rarely plan anything when it comes to writing and even when I do, it barely reaches as far as “plantsing” let alone what true planners do. Now, the pantser way is not for everyone, but I do get kind of excited when a writer friend decides to try it.
As such, I’ve loved watching my friend Natalie try this way of approaching a novel. It’s been interesting to hear her experience and see what has and hasn’t been similar for her.
I guess the main commonality is the speed in writing / heavy work in editing trade-off. That’s mostly my experience of pure pantsing too.
For me, because I lose interest in a story when I plan, there’s always going to be that heavy editing associated with pantsing. Still, I can deal with that because I can get a complete draft out so fast. Somehow that reduces my mental load of “half finished” novels, even though they’re only in a “scratch draft” state.
I’m yet to see anyone turn total pantser as a result of trying it, but it is very interesting take the leap without a planning safety line!
So, I’ve been doing something for a new project recently and it has involved actual planning. *gasp* Not planning on the scale that writers who are planners do, but a little bit. You know, bit of world and bit of structure.
Normally that stuff just goes on in my head, I suspect, and a less consciously. I mean I must, or when pantser-me puts pen to paper nothing coherent would come out.