I'm Eating Humble Pie -- yum! By Maree Anderson (for Writers Gone Wild)
I'm in the throes of editor revisions (not too many -- yay!) and upping the word-count (aaargh!) for From The Ashes, the manuscript Red Sage made me an offer on. So Judith, if you're reading this: 3,500 words down and 1,500 words to go. Sure hope you're gonna like the completely new scenes I added!
Hoping to have it finished by the weekend...because I still have those CIF and CAF forms to fill in. Gee. Writing multiple synopses in various lengths, my favorite thing in the entire world!
Anyway, the pending horror of multiple synopses aside, one of Kaylea's comments after her interview with Susan Lyons, made me chuckle.
Kaylea commented, "I need a road map--a good one--before I can sit down to start a draft. I can change things as I go, but I need that initial direction to have the main things figured out. I kind of envy you pantsers, but that doesn't mean I understand you."
And yanno, I've always considered myself to be one of those incomprehensible pantsers. At least, until a couple of weeks ago.
You see, I decided that I was going to have a go at this plotting business. Loads of writers do it. I've had an agent tell me over drinks that she wouldn't be keen on representing an author who couldn't outline--how would she be able to sell a manuscript or series on proposal only? And even my lovely editor has done *insert really scary number here* page story treatments before doing any actual writing.
So there I was, dedicated pantser, staring at a blank Word page, trying to get my head around character summaries and an outline.
Oh. My. God. YES! Like pulling actual teeth with a pair of fricking pliers. I want to howl and whack my head on the desk just thinking about it, LOL.
I managed a paragraph of background and basic GMC for my two main characters. And then it took me two excruciating weeks to write a scene-by-scene outline for a 55-60,000 word manuscript. I hated every single minute of that process. It was a chore--a punishment, even!--to plant my butt in that chair and open up that document every day. Did I mention how much I hated it???
But I grit my teeth and stuck with it, because I figured that one day, I might benefit from learning how to do this.
And then I got to the fun part, the actual writing. And bugger me days (as we say in New Zealand), if the heroine didn't flip me the bird and decide she wanted to be an interior decorator instead of a lawyer.
Oh come on! Don't do this to me! I mean, let's stick to the blimmin' outline, please!
Okay. Not to panic. It's not the end of the world. Just go with it.
So I did.
And then, about five-thousand words into this story, my editor asked me if I had a novella just about ready, because they might want one. Like, asap. And I thought, shit-oh-dear, what do I tell her? "Are you kidding me?" isn't exactly professional.
So I told her I might have something in the works, and since it was already fully plotted (there's that evil word again!) I might just go for it and see if the story could be scaled back and work as a novella.
Ah, what the heck, we thought. Let's go for it, Maree. And if it isn't gonna work as a shorter book, it'll soon become painfully obvious to both of us.
Two weeks later, I had a 30,000 word novella. Better still, even though I had all my usual doubts--compounded to the nth degree by thinking this story probably sucked a big freaking kumara, considering how quickly I'd managed to write the dang thing--my editor loved the story. In fact, she gave me the best feedback I could ever ask for: "I absolutely loved it. Made a bad day go by fast! And to me, the ultimate recommendation for a story is that it gets the reader through a bad day."
So, there you go. Even if this story ultimately isn't suitable, this ultimate pantser is eating humble pie. Because I truly believe that I would not have been able to write this story so quickly, if I hadn't plotted it out first. Sure, some major things changed--especially the intended word length! But I'm convinced that this plotting business has some merit. Okay, okay, a shitfuckton of merit. Happy?
BTW, that humble pie I'm eating?
It's apple. My favorite ;-)