Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cue The Eagles

I have been a fan of classic literature since my first high school English instructor assigned me to read Jane Eyre. This decades long relationship has been an obsession at times, and merely a distraction at others. However, I have never been too critical of these books. After all; they are classic for a reason.
One of my favorites was made into a motion picture recently and I attempted to watch the silver screen version and get the same thrill the book gave me.
Granted, part of the reason it didn't work was the fact that soundtrack music, and the noises the characters made, did not hold the same electric charge. The one I was able to  create in my mind when I used the written words to paint those pictures myself.
Part of it was the fault that a blind person has a more difficult time enjoying anything that is a 'picture' motion or otherwise.
But, the part that stuck out to me as a writer came from a flaw in the plot of this story. As I perused some of the other work of this author in my mind I began to recognize the problem.
He was a pantzer not a plotter-
Okay, maybe not literally. I quite frankly don't know how he wrote his books.
My point is...A long discussed debate amongst writers is if you should be a 'pantzer' someone who flies by the seat of their pants.
Or, a 'plotter'. Someone who plots the story from beginning to end.
I have heard arguments for both sides.
Plotting inhibits the creativity of the author.
Plotting doesn't allow the characters to express who they really are.
Pantzing is far too unorganized and often results in unfinished stories.
Pantzing leaves both character and authors lost in their own story, ect., ect.
I am a plotter, but  the first novel I wrote, I did  by the seat of my pants
Perhaps after doing it both ways I can see the points of both sides of the argument. Perhaps because I am a logical, mathematical person, I prefer the plotting.
Although a great number of successful writers don't plot, it is becoming far less acceptable. Writing by the seat of your pants often will rite you into a corner. Following Where your character wants to go is like asking a three year old to lead you to the bathroom in the back of a candy store. The chances you will get where you are going, before you wind up against a shelf full of Hershey bars is practically non-existent.
Perhaps a hundred years ago, or even more recently, a writer could write themselves into an inescapable position and then send in a magical flock of eagles to rescue our heroes. Maybe there was a time when you could have your character wake up and the whole story was just a dream. It is possible you will kill off a character and then make it all a covert government cover up, even though the story you wrote wasn't  about the government.
Maybe you can defy all logic and reader's won't notice when you send in the eagles, but without at least a pencil sketched road map, your chances of getting published by a credible publishing house have gone on the wings of the very birds you used to save the day.
If you are a plotter; pat yourself on the back. Now go learn how to do it without your story falling into a mid-novel black hole.
If you're a pantzer; make yourself a basic road map before you drift from town to town looking for a destination. A basic story Arc has five parts. Start there.
1. Who, What, Where, and How?
2. Where the original plan went wrong and why
3. The new plan and at least 3 attempts to make it work out.
4.. Climb the final mountain to make the plan succeed.
5.Tie up your loose ends in a resolution.
That sketch will not a New York Times Best Seller make, but it will get you to the candy store bathroom before you pee your pants.
Once you have the basics laid out, your characters can take over. If you know them well enough they will tell you their stories.
I would wish you luck, but you don't need it. Any more than you need to bring in the eagles.,

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