Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Plantsing Along

Novel-writers tend to fall into one of two camps.

Some writers have a germ of an idea and simply sit down and start writing. They allow the characters to reveal themselves and the story to unfold. Because they write by the seat of their pants, so to speak, they are referred to as “pantsters”.

“Plotters”, on the other hand, take the germ of an idea and then proceed more methodically, crafting various items such as character biographies so detailed that even the protagonist’s childhood stuffed animal and its name might be listed. Ultimately, they craft an outline that is the framework of their novel; these outlines range from skeletal to extremely detailed.

When I sat down a few weeks ago to get serious about writing my novel, I was stymied.

Am I a plotter or a pantser?

I didn’t feel comfortable just jumping in to my story; I felt I needed some sort of framework. However, I didn’t want to get so bogged down in the planning that I never got to any writing. And yes, I know myself well enough to realize that the avid planner in me is in danger of doing just that.

And so, for the past few weeks, between the work day, work tasks I have to bring home, household responsibilities, and Olympic-watching, I’ve been plantsing.

I began by creating very basic bullet-point biographies of my main characters and a couple of minor ones. Oh, what fun it was to pick out names and even a few life details for these people I’m going to be spending so much time with.

Then I moved on to an outline that is so skeletal as to be almost nonexistent. I incorporated the traditional story arc, but even it is quite bare-bones.

And everything — well, everything except my basic premise and main character — is up for discussion as I move along.

Perhaps there won’t be a visit to see the world’s largest ball of string, and maybe my female protagonist won’t meet George Strait in a men’s room in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Hmmm . . .

It’s time for you to join in the discussion. What kind of protagonist would you like to see in a novel? What would you like to see him or her do? 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

One for the Books

Despite the fact that I'm not and never have been Catholic, I've been giving up something for Lent for most of my life.

When I was in grade school, I gave up things like candy, bothering my older sister, and biting my nails. One year during high school I gave up television, and at least one year in college I gave up alcoholic beverages. As an adult, I've given up things like meat, Facebook, and sugar.

This year, as I contemplated what I might give up for Lent, one thing came to my mind right away.

It's something I've never even considered sacrificing, and when it did pop into my head last week, I at first immediately dismissed it as impossible, even ludicrous.

Because to give up books (except for spiritual or work-related purposes) is as unthinkable to me as being asked to give up the use of my right arm!

I've loved books since learning to read at age 4.

For a variety of reasons, they have been, outside of time spent with my children and late-husband, my #1 source of entertainment.

More importantly, books have been my primary way of relaxing, my primary escape from the world.

And in the last 7 or so years, I've turned to them more and more, to the point that I've let other, very important, even crucial things fall by the wayside.

I just realized, as I was typing that last sentence, that this will be my 60th Lent.

I think that calls for a true sacrifice as I replicate in my own small way Christ' 40 days of fasting in the desert and as I prepare for the greatest of all sacrifices that we recognize on Good Friday.

No doubt this will be my most challenging Lent ever.

Hopefully, it will be the most life-changing.

What about you? Are you giving up something for Lent? Please join in the conversation by sharing your thoughts via a comment.