Thursday, April 15, 2010

Max occupancy: ?

You may be wondering, why, dear woman, did you have so much time and energy invested in all these characters that are now doing nothing more than milling about your writing space? Wouldn't outlining or at least some form of pre-planning have saved you so much aggravation?

Well. Yes.

But we all begin somewhere, don't we? I didn't begin with outlines or preplanning. Outlines were those boring things they made us do in school when we wrote reports. Reports are stiff and structured. They aren't free flowing and creative works. Writing should be fluid, not confined to any concrete string of events. Right?

Sure, as long as you don't plan on having anyone else try and make sense of what you've written.

I wrote. I wrote a lot. I liked characters. Ands lots of them! Because more characters, planets, tech and all the gobs of plot-stiffling, info-heavy paragraphs that go with them, make a book more involved, deeper and more exciting, don't they?

Well. No.

But I didn't figure this out until I'd already written book one. And it hadn't really sunk in until the rough draft of book two was on paper - not literally, I don't do the paper thing anymore. Too hard on the hands.


"Gamnok, I'm getting to you."

He slips down from the Farscape Scorpius bobble head next to my monitor that he's been perched on for the last few days and storms over. "You said, I would get my post when you were done screwing around with that query letter."

"I'm not done with the cursed query letter, but I'm working on your post."

"Funny, it sounds like you're going on about all of us," he gestures to the other milling characters going about their business, "instead of me, like you promised."

"We're getting there. Be patient."

He takes a deep breath and sighs. "Fine."

Anyway, as I was saying, a little general planning, or at least restraint when the urge to toss someone new on the page, is something I learned along the way. My more recent novels don't suffer from this problem. In fact, they seem to suffer from a lack of words, because I'm so set in the editing mode of pruning words and characters. One of these days, I'll happen on a middle ground.

"Oh, come on!" Gamnock kicks my keyboard. "How the heck are you going to relate me to middle ground? Excess characters is one thing, but this?" He shakes his fist at the words floating on the monitor before him. "This has nothing to do with me at all."

"It does. Let me get back on track here, would you?"

"No. I want my post." He starts jumping up and down on the keyboard.


"Stop that!"

To be continued...


  1. I think every writer really should start out with the stifling plot, actually. It's good for them. It was good for me, anyway, because it helped the creativity build. But just like you have to learn to branch out, you must also learn to prune the branches...:D

    I'm excited for Gamnok's post! :D

  2. Gamnock is excited too. Pity that I enjoy torturing my characters though, even the discarded ones. Mwhahahaa

  3. Bwah hahahahahahhahaha! And here I thought I was the only lunatic around. LOL!

  4. Hardly, my dear. Welcome to the club. :)

  5. If it's any consolation, I wouldn't see all those characters, planets, technology etc. as wasted investment. I think they can make a story deeper and more involved, without necessarily actually appearing in the story.

    Confused? Well, I believe that even if details don't make it into the story proper, they are still there in your mind, guiding you to a more consistent and rounded world. You end up subliminally convincing the reader that what they are seeing on the page is just a small part of a wider world. A bit like those optical illusions where your mind sees a whole figure even though only a couple of parts are visible.

  6. Very true, Botanist. I was getting to that. :D

  7. It's funny how things that seem so important initially end up getting sacrificed later on, yet they still retain a significance, if only to the author. :)


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