Sunday, March 22, 2009

Whose Flying This Thing Anyway?

Pilot to co-pilot, eject, eject, eject!

One of my favorite things about writing, may actually be an error. Oops.
I discovered, after laboriously crafting my first novel, that there were things in it I didn't really feel responsible for.I'm not trying to pass the buck here, but it's true.

After allowing the manuscript to sit for a good three to twenty months,I began to re-read it in hopes that it needed no editing and was, in fact, brilliant as it stood. (don't judge me) Needless to say, it wasn't. However, to my surprise and delight, I found, secreted in those flimsy pages things that I swear, I didn't write.At least, I have no recollection of writing them.
My characters had been busy wandering off on their own. My plot had introduced its own twists. My dialogue...well, dialogue has never been my strong point.

N.E.Way, the point is that somewhere in the writing process, I--the author--had stepped out of the driver's seat and the story itself slid right on in there and took over. Imagine my surprise.
I've since spoken to other authors who have experienced the same phenomenon. Most consider it a good thing. The magic. The point where the tale you're telling grabs hold of you and takes you for a ride, becomes something larger than you'd intended.
When I wrote my second novel, for NANO, it was done at breakneck speed. The magic happened again. (probably because I was too sleep deprived and caffeinated to really know what I was writing) Fabulous. I celebrated these little surges of independence from my creation, and I still do.

BUT. There's always a "but" isn't there?

Enter the "How to Write" library. I've mentioned the importance of continuing education, right? So in my pursuit of further learning, I chanced upon an author who insists that my "magic" phenomenon is a very, very bad thing. I looked around, and she is not alone.
Why poo poo something so delightful? I'm at a loss there, but more than one accomplished writer has insisted that an author should, must in fact, maintain absolute control over story, characters, plot, and yes, dialogue from start to finish. Party Poopers. They're probably died in the wool outline'rs too. (never that organized myself) What to do, what to do?
I could buckle down, I suppose. Tighten the leash and (gasp) stick to an outline.Then again, that wouldn't really be me, now, would it? Besides, I'm not really interested in giving up my happy little surprises. Right or wrong, the buggers are mine. Still, I can see the benefit of the "total control" school of writing. They probably spend a lot less time on re-writes.
Maybe not.

The lesson then? Well, as I see it, the key is to find what works for you, right? I'm gonna go with that whether you agree with me or not, so just nod your head and humor me. I'm guessing there are more than two ways to approach this process. If you're lucky enough to find one that floats your boat, I with it.

Viva la difference

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