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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekly Writing Recap: R & R


R & R.

We all need it from time to time.

I've spent a good portion of the past two weeks recuperating and recharging. Not from the holidays. Actually, thanks to the Fashion Queen, we were ready for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. She didn't want to head back to college until the tree was up with the wrapped presents under it. I was fine with that since it was much more fun to have her here to take part in the preparations.

My need for R & R stemmed from the fact that I'd spent months rewriting my story. Taking it apart, deleting 70K words, shifting the remaining ones around, adding lots of new material, putting it all together and polishing it was an intense undertaking.

Would I do it again? You betcha!

Why?

Because I learned so much about craft. Because I enjoyed watching my story improve before my eyes. And because I rediscovered the joy of writing, something I'd lost during the year of my Confidence Crisis.

That said, I don't intend to repeat the the process. Even though I gained a great deal as a result of my experience and don't regret the time, effort and fortitude it took to take my story apart and put it back together again, I realized there's a better way.

And what's that?

Plotting.

It may be hard to believe, but detail-oriented person though I may be, I wrote my first five plus stories as a pantser. Next time, I'll be working from an outline and will know where I'm heading before I begin, what the major turning points are and how to move from one to the next. This isn't to say that being a pantser is a bad thing. I'm merely saying that method of writing doesn't work for me. It leads to more work.

So, what have I been doing? Catching up on the many things I'd let slide during the months of concentrated effort. Lining up some wonderful guests for my other blog, Romance Writers on the Journey. Editing my critique partner's Regency Romance. Having fun with my hubby and helping him celebrate a milestone birthday. And getting excited about my next story. The characters are chatting away, and I'm taking notes.

• • • • •

If you're a writer, do you tend to be a seat-of-the-pants writer or one who prefers to plot a story before you begin?

When you complete a major project, what do you do to recuperate and recharge?

11 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

I'm an avid plotter. I plot, plot, plot. Then I pound out the first draft. A very sloppy, sloppy thing. Then I start having fun with revisions. I sort of consider revising more writing than rough draft writing. I can do that half awake. The revising takes a lot of brain power.

I can't believe you deleted 70 K words! That's amazing! You've definitely had first hand experience iwth MAJOR rewrites. :)

Robynn Tolbert said...

I am also a detail-oriented person, but plotting actually stops my creativity. I had to toss my plans for my second book halfway through and just "pants" it to get it finished. I don't regret it a bit, even if it means I have to go back and revise. Here's hoping plotting gets it done for you!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I'm surprising myself by becoming more of a plotter. I plotted for the book I'm editing and though they knock me down, these edits aren't killing me. I like knowing where the story is headed before I sit to write. But I allow my characters to throw me off. That's part of the fun.

Glad you got some rest and relaxation. What are those words?
~ Wendy

Jody Hedlund said...

I totally hear you, Keli!! The effort and sweat it takes to rewrite a story is enough to scare me into very, very careful planning! Especially with my characters and their motivations! Sometimes the plot develops more intensely as I write, but I usually have the overal structure in place and where I need to go.

Terri Tiffany said...

I think I couldn't get here cause I was typing it in wrong but realized I follow you! Need to remember your blog title.
I am amazed you deleted so many words! Wow! I don't know if I would have it in me to do that. But you place in so many contests and your hard work does pay off.
I am outlining more now and fidn it works better!

Anne Barton said...

Keli, your R&R is WELL deserved! :)

Before I start a new story, I do a brief chart for my hero/heroine listing the basics about them and their GMCs. Then I do a really bare-bones outline with the 3 turning points of the story. Then it's time to start writing. I like to have an idea where I'm headed, but I don't plan each scene.

Have you considered using a plotting board? It gives a nice, chapter-by-chapter representation of the story, but sticky notes give you the flexibility to move things around as needed. Plus, who doesn't love neon sticky notes? :)

Thanks for all the *great* critiquing of my story. You're the best!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Keli, you deleted 70k words? Blinking furiously here. How on earth could you keep track of what was still there and what you thought might still be there?

Boggles my mind!

Yes, I'm a panster but feel the same way as you. Planning would save a whole lot of trouble for sure.

I wanted to thank you for the lovely Christmas note pad in my mailbox and card. I've been really lax getting to the post office as of late and was delighted to find this little gift in my huge bundle. Thank you so much, Keli. You're too thoughtful!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I must admit to being a panster! Because I write short stories I don't find the need to plot out lots. I usually have a brief outline...sort of like a movie trailer...and off I go!

I'm still trying to take in the fact that you deleted 70K words!Gads!!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Keli,

I started off writing with no idea what I was doing. Now, I try to plot it out for the most part, at least a few chapters ahead.

I'm in the process of revising an old ms now and I can appreciate the work you did. It's almost harder to revise than to create anew. I get the old words stuck in my head and can't shake them loose! However, I figure every bit of revision is a learning process so it's not a waste of time.

Any word from your agent yet?
Is V&V out on submission?

Take care,

Sue

Jill Kemerer said...

I know what you mean. I'm a plotter. I picture possible scenes before I write and I use 95% of them, but the scene question usually changes while I'm writing. I like that because it lets the story grow naturally.

Keli Gwyn said...

I've been enjoying the comments on this post. It's fun to see where you all fall on the plotter-pantser continuum. What I've noticed over the two years I've been reading blogs is that many writers start off as pantsers the way I did but move closer to being plotters the more stories they write. Maybe they learned the hard way, as I have, that plotting can save time in the long run.

However, I hear those of you who like to let the story flow and the characters surprise you. Even though I'm much more of a plotter these days than before, I do hope I never lose the ability to let my characters go in new directions if that best suits the story. We sometimes have interesting confabs as they try to convince me their way is best. They don't always win. Sometimes they come around to seeing things my way. I can be convincing at times, although I do try not to hurt their feelings. Don't want my characters upset with me. :)