Monday, June 30, 2014

Speed Bumps & Roadkill

From my author blog:

I usually like to put a decent amount of planning into a story before I start to write it.  With the last story I wrote (G.A.IA.:  ROGUE STATE) I probably underdid the planning.  It was a lot more seat-of-the-pants than usual, which is probably why it didn't turn out like how I'd wanted.  Not that I consider it really bad--nothing I write is bad, ever--just that it seems to have a few plot holes.  That it ended up at only 47,000 words is a good indicator it wasn't the best thing I ever did.

Again I think a lack of planning was key.  I already described in one post (Out of Nothing At All) how I created a character out of thin air and ended up giving her a major role.  Then I decided about 3/4 of the way through to make an otherwise unrelated character into a villain as part of some big conspiracy.  The end result is that where it ended and where it began didn't necessarily line up the way thy should.

Reading through the first draft I couldn't help thinking that it really needs to go back to formula.  So I struggled with that for a little while and maybe by the time this post airs I'll have gotten something figured out.  I think a large part of the struggle was that I didn't really have much in mind for the setting.  In the first draft I ended up using some little generic town in central Africa and jungles around there.  Obviously I've never been to central Africa, small towns or jungles.  So I think that presented a little bit of a challenge.

This time around I'm trying to make better notes and get a better idea of where things are happening.  Also they say if you're writing a mystery (and there are mystery elements here) then you should start and the end and work backwards.  I did some of that, deciding who the villains are and what their whole scheme is supposed to be and how it's supposed to work--before it's unraveled by our heroes of course.  I'm hoping the end result will be a bit stronger.  But maybe not.

Anyway, that's why I try not to do seat-of-the-pants writing much anymore.  Ultimately it leads to a lot more shitty drafts than if I'd just figured things out from the start. 


  1. Oh, well, I already responded over there...

  2. Writing mysteries can be tricky Pat. Sometimes it works to start at the end and some, like Agatha Christie, just write till the end and went back and added clues. I think it works better your way.

  3. I'm not a pantser, and never will be. I find the more I plan and outline in advance, the quicker and better my stories come out. I hate that feeling of writing when I'm not really sure where it's going or how the characters are going to deal with a problem they face. But I admire those who can write without planning, and it sounds like the stories turned out interesting.