The second chapter of Pep Talks for Writers (germane Amazon Link!) is about the circumstances that one uses when one writes.
One of the things that Faulkner talks about is planners versus “pantsers.” “Pantsers” are people who line up their characters/subject/whatever and just write and see where it goes. Planners, well, that’s pretty self-explanatory.
I’ve always sort of done both. Back when I could let my mind wander on the job, I used to get a lot of writing done. Sometimes I was at the photocopier or the fax machine or sorting documents to send to shareholders containing the annual report, or waiting for a report to upload to a database or whatever.
I could use that time to say, “Sally’s memory won’t come back until she’s home, but her home burned down 20 years ago. Should I just make her an amnesiac forever? But I really want to restore her relationship with her brother. The graveyard. She sees her parents’ graves and that’s what triggers her memory. Subconsciously, being ‘reunited’ with them is coming home and. Oh, yes, that’s perfect.”
And then I’d go home and write the scene. And, yes, that is a scene I wrote. It was in a Dark Shadows fanfiction that I’ve just realized I might be able to scrape the serial numbers off of and remix. Well, technically, I realized that I could do that when I was thinking about this chapter while unraveling the first blanket* and then I sat down and wrote all this out. But potato-potahto.
So I guess I’m more of a planner, but there are definitely surprises in the process of the planning. I’ll be prewriting something and a new character will pop up where I’m not expecting it and I’ll have to incorporate that new character, things of that nature.
The chapter ends with a challenge to mix it up a bit. And I guess that my experiments with dictation might count for that. I could also maybe get Evelyn to sit down and have a writing day sometime. She has a picture series in her that I’ve been trying to get her to commit to because just maybe that will be the thing that brings her financial success.
At the very least, I want the books (about her Jack Russell mix dog) to be out there in the world.
*I know that a couple of posts ago I said that I was going to make those blankets into a new blanket, but now I’m thinking about knitting a coat out of them. The threads have all seen better days, so it would have to be a casual sort of coat. Also, I definitely plan to work two threads of each color so that it comes out sort of heathered. And also having four strands should mean that if any one (or even two) wear out, the whole thing won’t fall apart. I hope.