Organizing my electronic and paper files took up a lot of my writing time this week; while comparing saved dates and amount of bytes is totally fascinating, I found myself thinking about the pantser versus plotter debate. Before you think to yourself, “not again!” I was trying to pigeonhole my own behavior.
I am both, or neither, I suppose. I have the grand scheme in mind, boy meets girl story, or fairytale character meets human or something of that sort. What happens after that, I don’t always know. I write in spurts, with long planning sessions intertwined. I write a rough outline, but I don’t always write in linear time. I might really want to write a later scene, then an earlier scene. I’ll think of a scene that would work well, but that may be pages ahead from where I am at the moment.
I find that the character has to be real to me, has to inhabit my brain in a way that if I weren’t a creative writer, would have me in a comfy room in a quiet place where I could talk to my imaginary friends all day long. Once I know the character, I know what they are going to do, and so it flows. I’ve also had characters do the equivalent of striking, sitting right where they are, saying, “If you think I’m going to do that, or say that, you just do not know me.” That’s when I realize I don’t know the character well enough.
I’ve written pieces that may be memoirs, although they may still be too painful, and may have to be fictionalized; what is strange is I wrote those the same way I write fiction. So what animal am I anyway?