Falling down the hill

It’s nearly the end of NaNoWriMo and the Thanksgiving season has begun. So far I have attended three Thanksgivings of one stripe or another, and I’m crazy behind on wordcount. I’m convinced that whoever placed NaNo in November did it specifically because they thought only children and college-aged folks would be interested. Adults spend far too much time in November cooking for other people to be able to summon the creative juices to write 50k.

Luckily, I am not writing that much. My NaNo goal was only 20k. I could conceivably do that in four (terrible) days if I had to, and I have already gotten pretty far along so I won’t have to do that to myself. And, despite being behind, there’s good news!

You may have seen this post, so let me explain what this means.

My writing process is sort of strange. As with most people, the process changes from book to book. However, with most stories I hit a moment when things start to cohere. Last weekend, as I was sitting in a restaurant waiting for a friend, I realized that I had finally discovery-written enough that things were starting to come together.

You see, I’m not a pantser, but I’m not a planner either. I’m more of a baker of stories, when it comes down to it. I plan out the ingredients according to the recipe I come up with, and then I start mixing things together. The end-goal remains consistent but sometimes the steps can be malleable. As any good baker knows, there’s usually a point part of the way through where you’re not sure if you’re doing it right. Maybe you didn’t add enough water or milk, and it needs a little more. Maybe you didn’t add enough flour. Whatever it was, you need intuition to take you in that direction, to get you to the perfect consistency of dough or batter.

And once you have that consistency right, the rest of it is just patting and rolling the story into shape.

Anyway, it’s an imperfect metaphor, but I’m living proof that you don’t need to outline 100% or to free-write 100%. I’m pretty sure if I did either the story that would come out would be dead, lacking the spark that makes it worth reading. For this story, I had a clear idea of the two main characters, parts of the setting, and the end I was working towards. I knew the bones. As I have written, I’ve been adding flesh and color in ways that, honestly, often surprise me. The story is beginning to take on a life of its own, and that means I’m doing something right.

Just in time, too, since NaNo is nearly over.


 
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