There are different writing styles: those plotters who plan and collect information before creating a wonderful story map with links to all the different segments of their creations, writing the beginning, middle and end so that they know what direction to take as they create new worlds; then there are those pantsers that grasp at the little earwig whispering fresh ideas to create worlds and jump straight in, no life jackets or planning required. I’m the latter and sometimes, being a pantser sucks!
You see, I have the opportunity to submit a manuscript to a publisher who has actually shown an interest in a book I have been writing for the past two years . Now, any normal person would be doing cartwheels to get to the second stage of the vetting process: the infamous table of editors stage where hopeful book submissions dance, sing, recite and play in the hope of being chosen as the next published title, but where most end up on the refusal pile where authors get to cry over their wasted blood, sweat and tears trapped in print, at their leisure. Of course, the polite letter of refusal received adds salve to the open wound but never closes it. My point? Well, I’m frantically trying to finish said manuscript and the kind publishers have given me all the time I need to do it. Am I crazy or does that translate to: if you take too long, we will forget you and your interesting book and move on? Or am I panicking, thinking that I will miss another great opportunity?
Maybe the past twelve hours staring at my computer screen is getting to me. I’ve been going over the tapestry of the story to get to know the plot better, weaving it over and over again so that the grammar makes grammatical sense and the narratives narrate. I could go on.
Back to being a pantser. That fickle idea that sparks a new story line is great. I fly with it and draft my story in quick time, never knowing the end (which is still hanging with its nethers exposed) as I haven’t managed to figure out whether someone will die or not. Scratch that. Someone always has to die – it’s inevitable. Those plotters have it made. They have a hit list ready to go before the trigger is pulled or the poison is swallowed. All those lovely ideas neatly listed and the planning so well organised and perfect. My brain, on the other hand, plays out the story line like a movie with a transcriber furiously noting down the important bits and filling in the rest after the lights have dimmed and the audience has gone home. That stale stench of popcorn is the only thing keeping my mind company as I trace back the steps each character has taken and driven through the towns visited during events played out in the tapestry of the story.
So far, I’ve drawn a map of the three towns, listed the street names and the distance from Chorney Flats, where Damon the drug dealer was caught, to Rembrant Police Station which is three miles from Norton City Centre. See? If I were a plotter, I would have had this stuff nailed down already. But, where’s the fun in that? Instead, I get to stress out and run my fingers through this manuscript like a fine tooth comb pulling out nits and knots, weaving and plaiting it back together again so that when I do write that last chapter, it will make sense.
I’m rambling. I know. I just wanted to share a bit of my crazy, pantser writing style with you. I’m sure many other pantsers will scoff at this and say what a numpty I am for complaining. It’s all good in the flies-by -the-seat-of-their-pants department: we get out stuff done our way!
In the hope that my sane brain returns, I shall return to page 51 of the manuscript and weave away till I get to the beginning of the end and finish off this damn story.
Wish me luck!