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Monday, July 20, 2009

Writing Habits

I enjoy visiting other author websites to learn their habits in the craft. Whether or not they write by the seat of their pants (like me) or if they plan everything out, and whether they edit as they go along or just write the story first and then go back and edit (like me). Personally—and I’m not too sure I should share this—I have an alter ego when I’m working on a project. In the zone, my niece calls it. Once I begin a story I’m consumed by it, all day, every day, until it’s told—I get so caught up in it that I sometimes forget to eat or sleep. When I’m ‘in the zone’ I’m in my own little world with the characters and they’re telling me who they are and what their pasts are. They don’t always share with me where they want to go with their story though, but that’s okay, that’s one of the exciting things about being a panster. Imagine riding a roller coaster blindfolded. Your heart feels like it’s going to explode in your chest. Beads of perspiration peppers your forehead. Adrenaline sours through your veins. You don’t know where the next turn is, and you’re terrified it’s going to derail any second. Sound exciting? It is. It’s why I love to write. And why I love writing suspense. Thankfully, my stories seldom derail. I think the reason being is that I often write scenes out of sequence. Often times I’ll have five to ten scenes catalogued before I even begin the first chapter. They come to me by dreams, pop into my head throughout the day—they come at me from all different directions. I know that sounds confusing and unorganized but it’s not really. My characters always tell me when it’s time to add them. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve completed a project and while editing it I find myself surprised by how it all fit together perfectly. There’s even been times when I come to a point in the story and stop and think, ‘did I really write that?’ and feel like I’m a puppet being manipulated by an unseen force. Every writer knows that unseen force. They have many names for it. Stephen King refers to it (him) as the little man in the corner. No matter what you call it it’s a force to be reckoned with. You can ignore it for years (like I did) but sooner or later it gets hold of you and you realize that you’re not complete without it. It’s a part of who you are. That’s why when people ask me why I write I say, ‘Because I have to’. Sure it would be nice to sign a three book deal with Random House or another big NY publisher but that isn’t what drives me from one project to another. It’s that unseen force that lies inside of me. The one that’s telling me right now to shut up and get to work—I better do as it says. Talk to ya later.

10 comments:

Ban said...

I may be a plotter (that doesn't sound character based - though I am) but I get those same scene revelations. Gotta write them down so I don't loose them. The only difference is, I've gotta find a place for those scenes in my outline binder ... move some things around so it fits nicely, add a few connecting tidbits etc. That does not mean they don't get moved around again later but, before I write a chapter, I pretty much know what's gonna happen. Being a pantser sounds so much more creative but I DO enjoy my outlines ... almost too much really as sometimes, I can be so satisfied with the outline I never get around to writing the actual story - still, I really enjoy it and that is why I write. Maybe someday I can sell my ideas to great writers who only lack the ideas ;) Good evening to you !

kbosch101 said...

Thank you for posting this Anne. As an aspiring writer it’s nice to know I’m not the only one that has little voices talking to them . I especially enjoyed your take on the unseen force that drives us to write. You hit it right on the nose. Good luck with your queries! Your blurbs and excerpts are great. I especially liked Silencing Evil. I think you’ve got yourself a real winner there!

Kris

Miss Mae said...

Fantastic post, Anne. It's amazing how often I've heard authors share that story of how the characters "talk" to them.

I'm just the opposite. I talk to them, and make them toe the line of how "I" want this story to go! I'm the creator, after all, so I give the orders! LOL

And do you do tons of research? I've read your excerpts, and they are extremely knowledgeable. You are a very talented writer, my dear. :)

Best of luck!

E.A. West said...

It sounds like you and I write the same way, Anne! I'm a panster who goes with the flow of the story and then goes back and edits later. Sometimes, I'll look at what I wrote in that first draft and cringe before rewriting it, other times I'll look at it and think, "Wow, where did that come from?"

I completely understand about the "zone." I've been known to write until 4am or so because the words just kept flowing and I lost all track of time. I love being in that zone, because I can get a ton of writing done. The rest of the time, it's hit or miss. LOL :)

Allison Knight said...

Oh my! I write so differently it's amazing. An outline for me is essential with character charts, especially what happened before the story begins. There's a huge dfference in how you write and how I write. I don't stick to one story as I write. I have up to five novels going at one time. I work on one until the characters stop communicating, or when characters from another book start yelling to be heard and then I switch books. I have note book binders full of notes, research, charts and outlines to which I refer when I go from one book to another. But it seems to work for me. Right now I'm on books 15, 16, 17 with 18 starting to form. My friends think I'm crazy. (smile)

Allison

Ban said...

Allison - now you sound like me !!! At last count I've got almost two dozen ideas for stories, and there are probably 5-6 that I jump back and forth on. I say it is the ultimate cure for writers block - only I jump to other forms of art as well, drawing, clay etc. Now - if I could only get one of them done ...

Anne Patrick said...

Thank you for all the great comments. Yes Ban, it sounds like you and Allison are on the same writers wave link. Miss Mae, thank you for the wonderful compliment--you made my day. And yes, I do tons of research on most of my projects. Thank goodness for the internet or I would have to rent a room at the library. Kris, thank you for your wonderful compliment as well. E.A., my fellow panster, staying up til 4am is the norm for me. I'm at my best in the wee hours of the morning. Allison, 18 books--that is awesome! Congratulations! I would be in a straight jacket by now if I had 5 or 6 projects going at once. Thank's again everyone for dropping by.

Mary Beth said...

Great post Anne! It gives the reader a better understanding of what you ladies and gents have to go through to turn out all those wonderful novels for us readers. I’m looking forward to Journey to Redemption in Sept. It sounds very intriguing—right up my alley. Oh, and good luck on your queries. They sound great!

Regan Taylor said...

Great post!

I'm a dream/pantser. Most of my books start with a dream but they aren't normal dreams. They're more like lucid dreams where I can stop and redirect the action. I get up in the morning and I know exactly where I'm going to do with it. Amaziningly I can get up to my minimum 2,000 words a day from the night's dream segments.

And heroes waking you up! OMG, yes. My latest hero, Morgan Knight wants his story told, he wants to get his girl and I wake up about 2:30 every night knowing exactly where to go next.

Anne Patrick said...

Mary Beth, thank you for the well wishes. Glad you stopped by.

Regan, another panster. That makes three of us I think... How interesting that you dream your scenes. Now I have dreamed idea's before, enough for a quick plot, but I usually don't continue to dream about them. That is so neat! I can see where it would get annoying being awaken at 2:30 in the morning by your hero--well maybe annoying isn't the right word. It could get interesting (:>). Did I really say that? Sorry I had a wee too much leomade over at Shannon Donovan's interview today w/Miss Mae. I tell ya those gals know how to party. Check it out at: http://sharondonovan.blogspot.com it was a great interview w/loads of laughs.