JuNoWriMo Lessons: The Joys of Mid-WIP Discovery

Jun 24, 2011

I've kind of eased up a bit on JuNoWriMo this week. I've still hit my goals every day but one, but I haven't been quite so nazi about it. It's funny how it gets done all the same-- and this way, I'm a little more relaxed about it so it doesn't wear me out so fast! I'm coming up on 50,000 words, which means I'm about three-quarters finished.


Something interesting happened as I wrote this week. First, you should understand that on the Pantser-Plotter Scale, I have gradually slid from complete Pantser to over-the-halfway-mark-to-Plotter. I plotted TUGL more extensively than anything I've ever done. BUT. I don't think I could ever plot out each individual scene, like some people can. I actually tried, but when I start writing, the story takes on a bit of a life of its own and veers away from some of that plotting.

And while I fully advocate as much planning as you can manage (and maybe even more than you think you can), that pantser part of me is a wonderful thing. As I wrote one scene, I was surprised to discover a new "thing" in the middle of my scene. It led to creating a whole new scene, one that enhanced the world, deepened my character, furthered the plot, and (crazily enough) gave me an idea of a sequel.

AND THEN. Several scenes later, I had a moment where something terrible had to happen. I hadn't known exactly what that something terrible would be, but as I wrote the scene, it just flew out my fingers. I WOULD DESTROY THIS NEW THING. It would be emotionally traumatic for just about everyone in my story. In fact, I was so horrified with myself, I actually had to stop writing and convince myself that yes, this thing must be destroyed. As horrible as it is, that scene was so poignant and painful that I actually got choked up writing about it.

It was a brilliant idea, if I do say so myself. And it all came because of being willing to discover new things in the midst of all my planning. I've got to say, being a pantser-plotter hybrid is the best thing I've ever done for my writing.

So, my friends, what have you discovered in the middle of your stories that you never saw coming? Are you a total pantser, total plotter, or somewhere on that sliding scale in the middle?

P.S. I've added some new pages off to the right. There is now an index of my most popular/helpful writing posts, as well as an index of all the books I've reviewed! Feel free to check them out.

15 comments:

Katie Dodge said...

I'm more of a pantser, but my WIP I loosely outlined. It's helped keep all my thoughts of things I want to happen later in the book in one place, but a lot of times my characters have other things on mind. :)

Christine Murray said...

I'm a pantser for half of my manuscript, then I roughly plot the second half. It works for me :)

Caitlin said...

I flip flop back and forth between pantsing and plotting. My current WIP I've got my outline done and some character sheets done, but between "main" events it's a total pantsing fest. So I suppose I'm like you, on the sliding scale, mostly in the middle.

It can be rough when you get to those tough scenes! You work so hard on something, developing characters who, to us, are people that we spend so much time with. And when we have to do some destroying, especially when we didn't see it coming, it can be rough! I'm glad you got through it though :)

Jolene Perry said...

I fall inbetween. I start my story with a hook, but it often changes.

Night Sky that I posted on today started out w/ the guy who's been in love with the girl and is finally ready to tell her, doesn't get her. In the end, he was going to win her over, but then the girl he met was pretty awesome. And then she was really awesome, but now he was confused, and I created a love triangle, that wasn't in existence until I started writing. And then the girl he met had issues that I didn't guess at until I was in the middle of a scene. So the book took on a WHOLE new tone from the light, fun book I started with in my head. I LOVE that part of writing.

Lisa Gail Green said...

I know EXACTLY what you're talking about! I'm moving toward plotter too, but things/characters always surprise me as I go. Once I surprised both myself and my MC by suddenly killing off a character. I think if I had seen it coming I would have tried to stop it, if that makes sense. But it worked so well.

Madeline Bartos said...

You're totally right, everything is better relaxed. :) Every time you do these JuNoWriMo updates, it's like you read my mind! The same thing happened to me, but only I didn't have to destroy it. Two of my MC's like to worry (or rather I like to write down their worries and doubts), and both of them asked "what if" questions that will make the story like eighty bazillion times cooler! I think the muses of brilliancy are visiting all the JuNoWriMo's this week. :D

Angie said...

I love moments of discovery like that. For me it's usually, Oh, that's why so-and-so did such-and-such earlier. Writing like that is really fun. Good job on your Junowrimo progress. That's awesome. I'm curious, what does TUGL stand for? I must have missed it earlier.

Nick Hight said...

I'm a plotter :) I'm been working out histories and backstory and futures and plot to my fantasy world now for a long time. However I want to keep the plot slightly flexible - I'd like to think that when I write my first draft I will run free and adopt some pantser qualities.

Nick Hight said...

Oooh, also, I've given you an award on my blog (www.nickhight.blogspot.com), which you can come and claim if you'd like to :)

Steven Whibley said...

I have a fairly detailed plot when I start, but I will deviate in sections if the characters seem to require it. But I always have a well defined end goal in mind and I know that major plot points that have to happen to get me there. Some of the smaller plot arcs in my books have happened organically though.

Really great looking blog, btw.

Joanne said...

I'm more a plotter, with room for new ideas. I like to research too, which also brings in more ideas to build the story ... Clicked over from Angie's, enjoyed browsing here :)

Lynda R Young said...

Sounds like you are getting heaps done. I'm a plotter now. I used to be a pantser. I can't go back. Plotting is liberating :)

Ellie Garratt said...

Yay for everything going well and discovering new scenes! I'm more of a pantser, occasionally trying to be a plotter.

Ellie Garratt

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

That is exactly why I only loosly outline. I mean, it doesn't really matter what I say or want. The story will write itself the way it wants. But I do need to know where it's going!

Kari Marie said...

I'm halfway in the middle. I plot a few things out, but let the scenes flow and go where they may. Sounds like you had a great muse bomb there with the beautiful new thing! Finding those are one of my most favorite things about writing.

 
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