One of the lessons I've learned in my past few months working with an editor is this: if you have the character backgrounds pretty firmly fixed in your mind, you might save yourself some rewriting.
I'm getting ready to start a new book while I wait for the verdict on TSMR. I've done several things that aren't like me. I've written a synopsis — I never do this, except when forced, and I know things will probably change as I go along anyway (it's a good thing to be forced, actually, because it makes me think through issues I won't otherwise). I've written the character backgrounds — this helps me know why they do some of the things they do. Who are they? Where do they come from? What are their issues? What do they want now?
These are important things to know. If I throw two characters into a situation without knowing who they really are and what made them that way, then how can I have a coherent story? Because they could do anything for the sake of plot if I don't know them. It's when you know what your characters would and wouldn't do that you are ready to write their story.
I still consider this pantsing, btw. Plotting, to me, is mapping out everything from the first kiss to the first turning point, the black moment, the resolution, etc. And then not deviating from it, or deviating only slightly. I need more room than that because I grow bored otherwise.
But not so much room I rewrite the book three times. I'm determined to slice those rewrites in half at the minimum. So I'm writing backgrounds, forming a synopsis, and brainstorming 20 things that *could* happen during the course of the story (this is a trick I gleaned from a Jane Porter workshop). I already know the first scene, and I'm beginning that today. I may learn something new as I go along, and I may have to rewrite a scene or two. But I really, really hope I'm figuring out how to cut the rewrites down to size with all this pre-writing.
If you're a panster, do you do any prewriting? If you're a plotter, how much plotting do you really do before you begin? And do you ever deviate from what you've predetermined? How do you plot and not feel stifled by the roadmap you're created?
I’m a plotter, although the book usually wanders from my original plan and I’m ok with that. When I get an idea, I usually write a quick blurb on it, then start thinking. For Blaze, I work on a sexy hook and go from there. I write a synopsis, then I use that to create a chapter by chapter outline. If I don’t do this, the book will end in chapter 9. I have to stretch out the plots, make sure the turning points and romantic progression are on a good schedule, etc. I don’t do character backgrounds for some reason, but as I go along, I try to copy down the details about them so I don’t switch eye color mid stream.
This all works great until chapter 7 when I run out of steam and, despite my outline, stall.
I could simply faint at that whole chapter by chapter outline thing. *g* I’ve tried it. I can’t do it.
When I write character backgrounds, and I first did this with The Spanish Magnate’s Revenge, I write all that backstory about their childhoods and what affected them most, etc. So then I have it and I’m not tempted to stick it into the book as I write.
I’m trying to do this now in an effort to get me on the right path in the book. TSMR went through two rewrites. And, pinch me, but I was finally successful!! I wrote the backgrounds when I returned from SF, just to fix them for myself. Either it worked, or the process of rewriting again did it. I don’t know, but I’m happy! 🙂
Hell if I know. I’m about 75% decided to to NaNoWriMo next month with a book I started so many years ago I can’t remember when I started it. I have stacks of notes, so many files on my computer with this book’s name on it that I can’t figure out what’s what and a photo of Eric Close (from the tv show Cold Case) because I know he’s my hero. I also have 10 folders labeled chapter 1, chapter 2, etc. In each are notes I’ve scribbled about scene ideas, snippets of dialogue and bits about the characters themselves. I pulled all of it out last night and started perusing it. I hoping all the perusal will push me the other 25% of the way.
Marilyn, sorry I didn’t answer you sooner, but I’ve been distracted. *GGG*
Girl, get moving on that book! What are you waiting for?! If that’s the one you told me about before, with the dramatic thing that happens, then you need to GO FOR IT immediately!
NaNoWriMo your tail off!!! You won’t get there if you don’t write the book. So write!