Over the past month, I have been working on a nebulous story idea from a dream that I had, without a real idea of who my characters were or should be. It’s been interesting, and I’m about 40k in right now and am getting a handle on who is involved, on what should happen, ect.
So it’s time to start over. Before you get too confused, let me explain.
I still consider myself a novice writer. I have written a lot of words, but only completed one story (though it is four books as it stands right now), with another almost done. I have started two or three more, but haven’t gotten very far on most of them.
Why is that important? Because I still don’t know how writing works best for me. I still don’t know whether I work better planning out my stories, or just flying through on the seat of my pants. My first story was pantsed, and is actually surprisingly complex, but it suffers from a rocky start and it has a very limited cast.
For NaNo last year, I planned in detail a story, fleshing out character ideas and plot points before the month even started. Once it did get going, I realized that my plot was moving in a different direction than I thought it would, and that I still didn’t know my characters. Sure, I knew a lot of facts about them, but I didn’t actually know them at all. I had only seen them from the outside; I hadn’t yet gotten inside their heads to see how they ticked. The only way that I can do that is by writing them.
So that was my dilemma. If I didn’t plan, my novels would start off in the wrong direction and would take wrangling to get on track, not to mention being a hot mess for the first while. If I did plan, I would still not know my characters as well as I should, though I could deal with more complexity.
So I’m going to do both this time and see what happens. I’ve written enough in this to know my characters, to know how the pace should be and what should happen for the first while. I know that what I’ve written doesn’t lead me in the right direction, and that I need character changes, so I can step back, get to know my characters better (finding the details about them since I know how they think), sketch out a plot direction, and hopefully start off cohesively.
Is this a strange way to do things? Almost certainly. Most people I have told have focused on the words I have written thus far (or the time I have spent), thinking they would be wasted if I started over. I don’t see it like that. I think this could be a way to get me a solid novel from page one, and hopefully lead to me telling the story better. Time will tell, and it could be something that doesn’t work well for me, but I won’t really know until I try it out.
All part of learning what works best for me for writing so I can be less of a n00b.