Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Twist I Didn't See

This has been such a fantastic week for me. I got the website out there with some wonderful response to the video, I passed the 50,000 word mark in my book, and I surprised myself by writing two chapters I had no plans of putting into the book.

I've read that there are two types of authors, the first likes to let the book unfold as they write. This type of author does not want to be confined to outlines and wants to just dive in and allow the current of the story to push them out to the finish. The second type of author spends time planning out the details of the story, what will happen and when it will happen. There are no surprises for this author, they know where it is they are going and have a clear road map on how to get there.

I have always believed that I fall squarely in the ranks of the second type of authors. With my short stories I know all the details before I begin, and certainly the screenplays I have written are clearly planned out down to the angle of the camera in each shot.

So you can imagine my surprise, even utter shock to discover that I had not properly planned out every part of my book. I have been laboring to finish this chapter that would place my antagonist firmly on the path of hunting down my protagonist and I couldn't do it. It was like pulling teeth. I was slogging through this chapter having to pull each word from the grimy depths. In short it wasn't working at all. And so I sat thinking about the characters, the nature of their backgrounds and the impossibility of the chapter I was writing. I could not suspend my own belief in the situation that I had planned that would allow these events to conspire. To make it work I had to do something different.  I suppose that the article I was reading may have neglected to mention that in fact a third type of author exists, a hybrid between the two. So instead of writing up new scene cards and redrafting a new outline I just began to write.

I took my two FBI agents, Steven Howards and Doug Martin and dropped them into the building of the character that was the weak link in connecting them to their prey and let them run wild. They unfortunately didn't have much luck breaking Joe Suthers (the security contractor who's business deals in intelligence and the occasional assassination) so they took another approach which lead them out into the slums of Los Angeles. Here Howards introduced Doug to a real scum bag that had the ability to give them the key to get the dirt on Joe Suthers and lead them on to their target.

These chapters simply fell from my pen. The flow was fantastic the character development was amazing. I was discovering possibilities that I had never imagined and it felt fantastic.

This trip into the unknown was very rewarding but it doesn't mean that I threw out my outline. In fact I've gone back to it included these two new chapters and made some adjustments to some future chapters as well. I think if you've always only written using one of these methods you ought to try out the other; you may find like I did that it can be a real treat.
In the end what matters most is that you are writing, sharing your ideas, creating on paper what has always been trapped in your mind.

So here are two exercises to try out:
  • If you are a classic planning style author ask what if? Take your characters and place them in a one line what if scenario and just write. No other planning allowed.
  • If you are a classic free writing author sit down and write an outline. If you can't write it out chapter by chapter at least write down a synopsis of all the major events that happen from the beginning to the end.
Drop me an email or post a response here sharing how it went for you.

This next week I'll be pushing my characters onto the same road where they'll be running and dodging each other while trying to find out the answers to the secrets. I'll also be posting a new video and sharing what's going on Write Now with me. So I hope to see you back here soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment