“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
― Franz Kafka
As writers, we can come up with some unique ways of looking at the world.
A man wakes up to realise he’s turned into a monstrous insect. A man attempts to interact with a strange, unknowable bureaucracy. Kafka imagined unconventional ways of interpreting the truth of reality.
We too have a unique perspective on the world. It might not be as bizarre as Kafka’s, or in many cases, it might be even more so.
Either way, merely own it. Don’t hold back—explore your ideas to their fullest degree. You can pull it all into shape in the, undoubtedly long editing process.
So just for now, follow all your crazy ideas as far as they’ll take you.
Today, let your book take an unexpected turn. Have you been wondering what would happen if your character said something extreme, or if they were faced with an unforeseeable plot twist?
I’ve discovered I’m drifting off into the Pantser’s world. So, take the risk and do it!
I have spoken in previous posts about the benefits of outlining over pantsing. However, I am currently on Day 63 of 100 towards my first draft of my first ever novel.
I started off, a week before the start of the 100 days by finishing my outline of the whole novel and submitting it to the group on the WritePractice. On day 1 I started off with the confidence an outline supplies. Day after day passed and the few thousand words per weeks I was knocking out were getting critiqued.
100 days equates to 14 and a half weeks, with a Friday deadline each week for the 4500 words.
By the 6th week, I was already towards getting to the end of Act 2 and becoming ready for the shorter Act 3 finally. However, I still had 8 and a half weeks more time and words to produce. What was I going to do?
At week 6 of 14 and a half weeks, I sat back and realised I am an underwriter and not the prefered overwriter. I have been whipping through the story at a rapid pace just writing what the scene was and the dialogue that was needed. I knew where I was in the story and also knew where I wanted to be for the final scene.
So week 7 started my pantsing. I slowed everything down and went into detail about body movements and facial expressions, showing and being specific about things that were only needed for the story plot to proceed; everything else was up to the reader’s imagination to produce. From this pantsing, I have developed the story into what appears to me to be a much better style and complex narrative.
I would now say regarding outlining, it is much better for me to do a broad minimal outline with the start, middle and end. However, then leave space for my imagination to take hold of the narrative at the time I am writing it.
This is however, after all, just my own opinion.
I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
Deadlines are meant to induce stress. I know none of us wants more stress in our lives (do you?), but most writers I know struggle with two things: discipline and focus. A reasonable deadline helps with both.
A little bit of stress focuses me on completing a task. A definite deadline can keep your bottom in the chair and your fingers on the keys much better than “inspiration,” that fickle muse, ever could.
How do you set valid deadlines, so they don’t just whoosh by as they did for Douglas Adams?
As I have found by completing more of my first draft in a month and a half than the previous year, you fix a penalty for not achieving a word count. I do dislike word counts as they become a target and I am an underwriter, so I usually fall short of any desired word count and add fluff words just to pan things out and use words.
Having put all that into consideration, I would recomend that you set up deadlines and don’t make a self-reminder or self-incrimination act to reprimand yourself for missing it. What you need is someone else to carry out the forfeit. Money is usually the best way to do this. Give someone £100 and have weekly deadlines, say Fridays so that you submit work every Friday and if you miss more than two Fridays they get to keep the £100.
It works fine for myself.
I am within the 7th week of this 14 and a half week course, and things are getting harder. I usually write at least 1,000 words every weekday and have the weekend off, except for Saturday morning when I spend about 4 hours Saturday morning critiquing 3 to 4 people’s submissions that they had updated on Fridays.
We have to submit every Friday somewhere in the region of 2,500 to 7,500 words each week. By the 19th June which is the final submission day, we should have 65,000 words. Moreover, a finished first draft of our novels.
I did start my novel by pantsing it, and after about 15,000 words I did not know where the story was going. So I stopped and thought that I should outline the story of my novel. I also looked at the different genres of crime fiction and opted for the hardboiled detective.
The Write Practice has given me room for thought on where my novel is set and where I get my ideas. It is true that if you help other writers by critiquing their submissions, then you receive help back from them. The outline is relatively basic, so when I come to write that section, it is still open to a significant amount of change that comes to my mind when I go through the scene.
This update is about my progress to my first draft of my first novel in crime fiction. I am on Day 38 of 100 on a course called Write a Book in 100 Days, by The Write Practice.
Here are my observations:
1. The course is $100 more expensive, but if you complete your weekly deadlines of posting the 4,500 words you wrote during that week for 15 weeks, then you will have the money returned. While you reach a total of 65,000 words after 100 days.
I have to say, this type of deadline pressure does help you find the time and actually to meet the word count. Although, you can miss two deadlines of the course and still receive the $100 refund.
2. There are about 140 students on this course, and we are embedded in groups of 10 people. Each week on Fridays I have to submit my chapter. Before the next Friday, I have to read at least three other people’s submissions and critique their work.
This critique of 2000 to 7000 words is not as easy as it sounds. As it is a first draft then spelling, grammar and punctuation is not an issue. Not even ‘Show, don’t tell’ is an issue you can highlight.
I often write at the top of my submission that all I am interested in is how fast it is progressing and what the voice of the narration sounds like to the reader.
I have to congratulate Joe Bunting in creating such a helpful course.
Next week begins the 100 days course that should help me produce my first draft. The WritePractice is helping me.
My novel did start its way by pantsing. I got to about 14000 words and lost my way. It was at this time I sat back and thought I should outline, and do some research into the subject areas within my story.
Firstly I did a Creative writing course on Udemy and found out my English was fairly bad. That needed some work and practice. My comma splices were plentiful but that got corrected by sentence diagrams which I learned through the English Grammar Revolution.
As my intended protagonist was a private investigator; I did a foundation course on being a private investigator by Rockwell Private Investigators.
Being sure my P.I. was going to encounter dead bodies; I did a Forensic Science and Profiling course, that was very interesting and cheap as I got it from GroupOn.
While all this was going on, I researched what was favourable about Shakespeare and why his work is still popular after four hundred years. I came across the rhythm of English and the Iambic pentameter, that was used by William Shakespeare, the master of the Iam.
I also looked at memorable characters in movies and tv and why they were so accepted. For instance; Basil Fawlty, the worst, hateful owner of a hotel in history, but he was admired so much, why?
Don’t let an outline prescribe your novel’s plot rigidly – use it compliantly.
Novel plot outlines are extremely useful for giving your story a clear sense of direction and purpose. Writing a book is like heading out to an ocean in a small boat. The outline helps if you have a method and a course laid out. The same time, you need to be equipped for sea changes.
Sticking to your outline, you might ignore places where variation would make sense. Where your outline might say, your tale should go in one course while the characters (your creative intuition or Pantsing attitude) are telling you to go in another. It’s essential to treat your outline as a guide – this way you can chart the entire course of your novel while still allowing for sensible detours. Use the brainstorming and three-act structure to create a blueprint for your book.