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Monday, March 22, 2010

March Madness--Getting Into The Game

Yes, I've used this picture before, but it was in regards to my son playing basketball. This time, I'm using it because of College Basketball, to which I seem to have become addicted. I've spent the last four days watching the NCAA tournament instead of working on my manuscript. I have skillfully mastered the art of procrastination, but I'm putting my foot down. No more basketball. Well, at least not until Thursday when the tournament resumes. Hey, give me a break. The K-State Wildcats are in the Sweet Sixteen. Go Cats! Okay, so back to the topic of writing. I thought I'd have my own version of March Madness here on my blog. For the next few posts, I'll be discussing my revision game plan for helping my manuscript go all the way. For the purpose of these discussions, let's look at it from a coach's perspective. The first step to going anywhere in the NCAA tournament is getting into it in the first place. Not just any team makes it, and it's up to the coach to get his team there. It helps to have raw talent, but that talent must be nurtured and directed. The same holds true for an author trying to break into the publishing industry. A great cast of characters is extremely important, but it doesn't mean much if they aren't developed and guided through the story. This is the first mistake I made, and the first I fixed during my rewrites. I've read time and time again of other authors making this same mistake. We are a creative lot, and because of that, we tend to let our characters, or our muse, or whatever else you want to call it, take over our story. Would a coach allow his players to take over? He might grant them a little leeway, but he'd remain in control. The first thing I did when I began my rewrites was to take my story back from my characters. I regained control, and I redirected them to where they needed to go. I can't help but wonder if this wouldn't have been necessary if I'd worked from an outline. That's neither here nor there because I didn't, but I certainly will in the future. It might save me a great deal of time on my next project. What about you? Have you ever let your team take over? Or do you remain the always-in-charge coach you should be? For all you pantsters out there, have you ever wished you'd worked from an outline? I know I have. Join me Wednesday when I discuss getting past the first round.

38 comments:

storyqueen said...

An outline is only helpful to me after I have a first draft.
(Seriously, I cannot outline before because I really don't know what is going to happen.)

Shelley

Melanie's Randomness said...

I try to remain control over it, it seemed overwhelming because so much was starting to happen with the writing, but I actually did do an outline & it helped!!

Oh March Madness...damn basketball, hehe

David F. Weisman said...

I wish you hadn't said that. Several of my characters may demand million dollar contracts or walk out of my novel. Funny, I never thought the villein was interested in money.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I was just discussing revisions with my crit parnters and it's funny how we all work so differently. But revisions for me take hardly any time at all because I write so slowly and analyze each chapter and where it's going ahead of time. so I guess I'm one of those hardnosed coaches, always in control. LOL

Solvang Sherrie said...

I wrote an outline for my WIP, but once I started writing, I didn't like it anymore so I'm starting over. So much for the outline saving me time!

Patti said...

A girl after mine own heart. I would have been watching basketball if we weren't watchng my sons, but we checked scores as soon as we got home.

I don't think I let my characters run the show, but I do give them a long leash in the first draft.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Oh, how I wish for an outline! Like right now! :0)

Stephanie Thornton said...

I have to have an outline. Otherwise I finish a scene and become hopelessly lost. However, my outline is only a one page list of major plot points. It keeps me in line.

Glad you're back!

Catherine Denton said...

Lately I've been letting the team take over.
Winged Writer

L. T. Host said...

I have an internal outline, and my characters tell me how to get there. It's worked pretty well for me so far, but I've only written one-and-a-half books this way, so we'll see. :)

Karen said...

I'm not an outliner. I'll come up with some direction for the story. And on my current WIP I decided writing the ending first would help me get where I was going. But I don't outline the story and I certainly don't outline my chapters.

On the first draft I let the characters have their fun and do it their way. Doing this helps open my eyes to new possibilities. Sometimes the characters do things I hadn't thought of and it totally works. Other things, it doesn't work at all. But allowing my characters to have sort of this life of their own helps keep me creative and gets me excited for the next draft.

jbchicoine said...

I was wondering where you've been!
I think outlines are a great idea, but I don't know that I could ever use one.

Carolyn V. said...

I've used both an outline and just free written. I like them both, but the writing was completely different! Plotting before seems to give me a little more direction with my characters. =)

Robyn Campbell said...

GO DUKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No outlines. NO, NO,NO! I stomp on outlines. =) They confuse me, I don't like referring back to them. Stomp, stomp!

But I am writing a synopsis as I start a new MG which uses characters from Seventy Two Hours. But it is not a series. It has a lot of the same people, but different story. More mystery added to the adventure.

I will miss you. But I will be back in a couple of weeks. Take care, my friend. (^_^)

Jody Hedlund said...

I think I'm a little bit of both--I act as the coach, but I also involve my players in the game, listen to them, see what they want to do, but overall I oversee the game! Great post!

Erica said...

I am a reformed pantser who now outlines. So I love it. However, I have the opposite problem. I need to give the story to the characters, I've got all story and not a lot of emotion, so that's what I have to work on...

I'm with ya though - been procrastinating for a while myself. Going to finish the crit I have then - revision city!

Good luck ;o)

Jade said...

Mine are willful. They think that they know better, but they so don't.

Yes, I need to rein my characters in regularly.

Laura Pauling said...

I'm definitely a plotter. But, I'm always open to changes as I learn more about my character. But I do leave a lot of room for the direction a scene can take. I know what needs to get accomplished but my characters have freedom. So even with outline, I enjoy a lot of creativity.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

For me, I need a more stringent and disciplined practice schedule. (i.e. writing time!)

I wish I had a writing coach who would make me run laps for not getting any writing done today. :)

staceyjwarner said...

oh I keep in charge but I'm not saying that's a good thing. I'm a mad outliner, comes from my screenplay background...

much love

Sarah Simas said...

I don't typically like to watch sports on TV. I just don't have the patience. BUT after having discovered a Rugby game on TV--let's just say, I'd sit for that! Those gents are buff and wear shortie-shorts. lol

I had to crank out my synopsis this week and I enjoyed the whole process. I may have crossed over to the "plotting it out" side. :)

Angie Muresan said...

I was awake last night agonizing over my characters. An outline does help but only if one sticks to it. Which I didn't.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Ooooh, I'm really looking forward to your posts on revisions!! I'm getting closer to that point with each passing day. I'm up to 70,000+ words! And I'm both excited about and dreading handling the revision process.

But I'm definitely not a "pantster." I started with an outline. And although it's sort of evolved from its original form, I've stayed fairly true to it. Guess I'll see if it's worked for me or not...

Kim Kasch said...

My daughter plays college bball - I would love to get her these shoes. Thanks for the smile.

Glynis said...

What you say is so true, a team coach would remain in control. My characters ran wild for a while, but I was pointed in the direction of free software called yWriter. I have never looked back. It has allowed me to gather up the team and start an organised game plan.:)

lauraabest said...

I'd like to be one of those writers who can work from an outline. I really think it would speed the process up. Although it hasn't happened yet, I have tried. I'm sure I'll try again.

Nancy said...

My first book actually did have an outline. It was my best book, by the way. It was fun filling in the outling, but there's nothing so exciting as letting your characters do what they want and creat their own paths. If publication is your goal, do an outline. If you want to write for the sheer joy of it,be a pantster (love that term,) and let the team go wild. My last story turned out pretty good that way.

jenheadjen said...

I'm a pantster, but always trying to be an outlined person. (This is in life in general for me.) My guess is that it seems to be one of those things that define a person, at least in my case!

Elana Johnson said...

I totally let my characters take over, especially with their dialog and the voice of the narration. Sometimes I have to reign them in if they start taking the plot somewhere I can't follow. Or get them out of in the end!

Suzanne Casamento said...

Great analogy! Sometimes my characters take over, but I have to say, when that happens, I'm thankful. I let them run with the story and then edit afterwards. Too bad that doesn't work with basketball... ; )

Amy Tate said...

I let them have their way for awhile. At least during the first draft. But during revisions, I examine their roles and make sure they're developing the way I want them to. If not, then they're cut from the team!

Heckety said...

A bit of both is probably best in just about any situation I think- part outline, part seat of pants! Well, that's how it is with teaching- if you stick too rigidly to your plan/outline you can miss very important moments or opportunities.

Mrsblogalot said...

Your blog is the best place for any writer. I always learn so much here from you and your commenters.

So I guess that makes me the crowd cheering right?

Dominique said...

For my current WIP, I both followed an outline and my characters at various points. And, in both cases, I ended up having to trash half of it. So, it would see, I can't come down in favor of either method. Both can go either way.

Susan Fields said...

I can't imagine writing without an outline - I'd ramble aimlessly forever! Sometimes my characters do take over a little bit, but that's when I realize that my plot and the people that they are (which I don't know right up front, until I've spent some time with them) don't jive. I have them doing things that I now know (since I know them better) they wouldn't do. That's when I have to reevaluate and figure out how to make the plot and the characters jive, but it's also when I realize that I've got living, breathing people here, which is always my goal.

Jackee said...

Sometimes I wish I WASN'T such an outliner because I think I suck some of the creative juices out by treating it as much science as art. I'm finding I can't functin without an outline, though. And the characters stick to the plan too... mostly.

Good luck on revisions!

Kelly L said...

Love the shoes - I'm thinking wearing shoes like that would be the only way to get my husband's attention during March Madness.. crazy days.

Love,
Kelly

Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOL. I use an outline and my characters still steal the story from me. When my mc and her potential love interest start talking, I'm in serious trouble. But you know what? They know what they're talking about (excuse the pun), and know when to add more conflict. Gotta love those teens. ;)