Thursday, March 3, 2011

Comparing Methods

Here's another interesting note to consider.

With "Godchild," I have an overarching plot in mind, with dozens of locations and characters and events all weaving in and out of each other. However, I don't actually know what's happening when. I have large revelations and theme shifts blocked out, but their placement is very fluid and will change to fit the confines of the story. In addition, my day-to-day writing is generally outlined fairly concretely. I have a good idea of what the characters are doing and where they are going for the foreseeable (which is usually about a week's worth of writing).

What I don't know, however, is that big, fat middle ground between overarching plan and daily grind. So it becomes an interesting mix of discovery-writing meets outline-drafting. There are moments when I discover that a certain character is going to disappear for a few days, or another one is going to stick around longer than I intended, and that's okay, because I'm leaving myself open to the characters' actions. But there are other times where I see a brilliant chance to lay down some foreshadowing or begin to sow the seeds of plotlines that will develop much, much later in the story. And I get to do so because I know (on a grand scale) where the story is going. So, for me, thought it's exhausting and requires continual maintenance and will likely require a very thorough rewrite before any thoughts of publication, the way I'm doing things for "Godchild" is an enjoyable and dynamic way to write the story.

Now, I tell you that to tell you this.

"A Tree in Times Square" is going to be handled in a completely different manner. It's going to be the first book that I try to map out, scene by scene, before sitting down to write it. Yes, this means that I haven't started writing it yet, even thought March is already burning through days. I want to give the story time to grow organically in my mind, even while I'm attempting to codify it with an outline. I've already seen benefits from this approach, as character origins and roles adapt and shift into new flavors, and plot details connect and respond to each other in my head and on the page. The entire climax that I had originally planned has changed itself at least three times since I started working on this outline (for the better, of course).

So that's another bit of trivia about "Tree" that has me excited to be working on it at last. We'll see, in the coming weeks, which method holds up and whether or not I'll want to adopt one or the other for future projects. (It might just be that -- gasp -- each project is different. We'll see.)

Until then,

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