So, I’m officially a little over half-way through my writing sabbatical. How’s it all going? Very, very well indeed!
Have stayed on target thus far, and with this head down and bum-up approach I’ve just reached the 75% complete mark. So, I’m slightly ahead of the game which is nice. This should allow me ample time at the end to work on revisions, quietly hunt out beta-readers, and just generally knock the cobwebs out of this story.
In writing parlance you may have heard of two types of writers, outliners and pantsers (ie flying by the seat of your pants). Definitely a 100% pantser here. Apart from my zombie novellas (which were planned and researched to the hilt) I approach longer projects with a very fluid outlook. I know the beginning, some of the middle and maybe the end, but the rest is a horrid mess, one I wade into with gusto.
And I’m glad of this.
The first reason being that my process (your mileage may vary of course) runs on the very best of fuzzy logic. Once I hit that sweet spot where words flow and hours vanish, my mind quite happily skips away from the ordained path. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, but other times my subconscious brings me the real story, what I actually need to be telling. With a loose enough outline, I can make the most of these sporadic outbursts from my opium-addled muse, who flutters in occasionally, leaves feathers and shit everywhere, and sometimes comes up with the goods.
So a few well-justified lateral arabesques as they occur to me, constant revision and editing to make sure the continuity is up to scratch, and this is basically how I write my first and second drafts simultaneously. If this were a building, I would have most of the framework up, but boy oh boy, the rest is a dog’s breakfast. I’ve got wires and shit everywhere, the plumbing is visible, and the builders have left cigarette butts and dirty magazines all over the place. It’s an embarassment. But if I step back a little, and imagine how it’s going to end up, well I’m sure glad the architects agreed to that 11th hour amendment. The place just wouldn’t look the same without that command tower and the revolving gazebo, and just because I didn’t think of these things when I first conceived of the house, doesn’t mean they don’t belong.
But yes. Flying by the seat of my pants means that a driving element of this story just sort of slid in by accident, because it needed to be there all along. This has completely affected the relationships between a group of antagonists, one of the POV characters, and has forced a complete revamp of the setting itself, all for the better. Some great epic moments have arisen from the arrival of this particular gizmo, and I’ve managed to import some much needed gravitas and actual fantasy into something that could have ended up as a bad Mad Max knock-off with token wizards. Nope, my half-arsery has steered me through these troubled waters, and instinct saves the day!
So Book 3 of 4 is done and dusted, and it’s time to bring this bad boy home. See you on the other side!