I don’t read a lot of ‘how to write’ books. In fact, if you count the ten or so that I began and threw to the couch in disgust, the amount read still probably wouldn’t amount to one book.*
Mostly I just don’t like being told what to do. But there’s also a part of me sceptical enough to believe that there isn’t one, general, shrink-wrapped way to write. And then there’s that whole problem of: “But I don’t do it like that!” that occurs every time I delve into a ‘how to write’ book. Apparantly one should always have an outline. One should plot well in advance, with a detailed plan that cites every skerrick of the ‘who, why, what, when, and where’. And how. If one does not, one is a pantser**
The fact is, I quite often sit down to write with only one character in mind. Sometimes I have an idea of a plot, but more often it grows and twists as I write. I’m more likely to start with a character or a relationship than I am to start with a plotline or a story. Yeah, it means I have a lot of work to do in the editing and re-writing, but that’s what works for me. I love watching my plot grow and complicate. I love that fact that seemingly random bits and pieces come together to form a cohesive whole, driving the plot on in my mind. I don’t even mind going back to foreshadow things that need foreshadowing.
So now I’m curious. How do you write? What works for you? Are you a pantser***? Are you an outliner****? Do your characters drive the plot, or does your plot drive the characters? Are you perhaps a lover of *gasp* purple prose?
Let me know. Oh, and read Patricia Wrede’s ‘Wrede on Writing’. It’s good.
*Caveat here to say that Patricia Wrede’s ‘Wrede on Writing’ will be excluded from this rant, since it’s made up of excerpts from her blog, and I’ve always found her particularly helpful. Also Diana Wynne Jones’ ‘Reflections on Writing’, because I haven’t read it yet, and she’s awesome.
**And you wouldn’t want to be a pantser, now would you? No, you wouldn’t. Good writer. That’s right.
***You naughty writer, you!
****I promise I won’t hold it against you.