Who wants to hear about process today? Meh? Maybe? Ok.
My first story, which I’ve described a bit here previously, is about a girl in a school unravelling a mystery before it unravels her. It’s also about a man named Lux just trying to keep his head above water in a dangerous world where his kind isn’t expected to rise so high—but his future is about change in ways he never could have anticipated. It’s very Gilmore Girls meets Buffy meets Folk of the Air meets The Dresden Files. Or written query/pitchmad style, GILMORE GIRLS x BUFFY x FOLK OF THE AIR x THE DRESDEN FILES. So much yelling, ffs.
I hit an editing wall with this book last year after I finished the first draft (the first very, very ROUGH draft), and so much of why it has continued to hit said wall is a lovely combo of life stress, a pandemic (wear a mask), and the simple fact that I wrote it as a pantser. For those not in the know, a pantser writes by the seat of their pants, as it were. A plotter, on the other hand, plans out their book meticulously. Like nearly everything in life, writing styles exist on a spectrum, and writers tend more towards one than the other.
Pantsing (is this how it’s spelled? sure.) lends itself well to creative fits of wondrous discovery. It also is a messy fucking disaster to edit later. Plotting allows you to have full control, planning out chapter after chapter, choosing where and when to place your plot twists and conflicts and climax. It’s also stuffy and doesn’t allow for a lot of off-roading without having to take time out to edit your carefully concocted plan should you go off course for a bit. But editing afterward is much, much easier—you know what’s missing because everything was so carefully laid out ahead of time.
Like with anything else, I’m finding a combination of the two to be the most efficient with my subsequent books. I plan out by section or part more-so than by chapter. As long as I’ve hit the points I need to, it doesn’t matter how many chapters it takes to get there, especially not in the first draft. Those are going pretty well. The only thing left unaccounted for is the fact that I can’t always write in chapter order. Sometimes the muse comes to visit and it’s got the hot goss for part three and I’m still writing part one. But since the big points are all plotted out I just put the out-of-order bit in the section that makes the most sense for it, with a bunch of notes and synopsis in the sidebar (love you, Scrivener!!!). The beauty of Scrivener is that I can easily drag and drop scenes and chapters where I need them to go. This is not an ad for Scrivener, I just am so happy this program exists. Suck it, Word.
But back to my editing woes. A LOT is missing from this manuscript, the editing of which has felt like a completely enormous and overwhelming task. So I’m breaking it down by what I feel I can handle at the moment and weighing it against what will give me the most output for my effort. A major thing that’s missing is character development. Right now it’s spotty and inconsistent. I’m focusing on writing little backstories, character by character, snippets of their lives. I started with Lux because he’s my favorite, and a lot of what I’ve been writing for him has a good chance of making it into the book. I hadn’t intended that—it started as a writing exercise so that I could get into his head a bit more, not to create new content for the book just yet.
Another common suggestion for delving into character development, particularly for understanding motivation(s) is to “interview” the character, and I may do that once I’m done exploring. But, I’m not on a deadline here, and this is not my day job, so this needs to stay fun. So far, Lux’s trip to backstory has come out to 2,281 words. Despite being a man of few words, my buddy has more to say, it seems. And I’m keen to hear all about it.