Easy as A, B, C . . . from JC
In my last Wednesday’s WIP I found myself in a place where it became very hard to move the story forward due to a number of unanswered questions about the backstory, character development and plot. Once I took the time to resolve the bulk of these voids, I was able to continue. Even so, obstacles still had to be overcome…
I am what my writing friends refer to as a “Pantser”: a “Seat of the Pants” writer, if you will. This term came from World War I and World War II pilots who had to fly by the “feel” of the airplane when there was little or no visibility. They could tell if they were ascending, descending or turning without actually seeing the horizon. And you guessed it…the place they could feel it was where the body met the machine…the seat.
This works great at times, but it also occurred to me that even though these pilots may have lost vision or navigation for a short time, they still had a map in hand and a defined mission.
Being a 100% “pantser” is like entering a marathon at the edge of a desert with no course markers defined. You may have the adventure of a lifetime while you are participating—but at some point you will wonder where you are and whether you have completed the event.
What does it all mean in regards to my writing? It means that I have an easy time creating adventure on the fly, but sometimes I find myself off course or moving away from the plot. The solution I discovered, however, is to create an outline of the story. The outline can be as vague or detailed as I like. I start by chronologically listing all major events of the story from beginning to end. Under each or any of the major events I can list sub-events that will take place in that section of the story and the outline can have as many levels as necessary. This process goes on until I have enough “course markers” to keep me on track. As a pantser, my outline may only be high level so I can build on the go. To those of you who like it all spelled out, you can get clear down to the smallest nitty-gritty detail. I’m also confident that some can do it without an outline. Currently, I’m not one of you.
So where is my WIP you ask? As a result of the outline it is here:
I have now introduced the story’s antagonist, Xhaar, and we follow along as he attempts to escape from a prison where he has been locked away for decades. He is in no way a nice man. Come to think of it, he is in no way a man at all. He is leader of an ancient race called the Lorza. He is a changeling and the Dark Shadow Lord. If he makes it to freedom, only one person will be able stop him: a 13-year-old boy, Brax, still clueless about the unbelievable power he possesses.
See you day-after-tomorrow for Friday’s Friends