I write in the dark, which means that I like to write without planning out the entire story.
For the longest time, I was convinced that I was the only person who wrote like us. It seemed like everybody else had plot outlines and character sheets and notes and research. I seem to be the only one who likes to write the story and then go back and have the elements that I needed. I like to discover the story as I went to log.
I can’t tell you the amount of relief that I felt when I discovered that there were other writers, as well as a term, a couple of them actually, for those who like to write into the dark. Discovery writers, is another term. Pantster, yet another. My preferences would have to be writing into the dark, or discovery writer.
But that does bring up a good question: what do you do when you need to know certain elements of the story?
I was thinking about this as I was driving to work. I like to take the country roads, mostly so that I can think, talk to myself, and be in my Zen head at 50 miles per hour rather than 80 miles per hour. I’m not insane. So as I was driving along enjoying the country morning, I got to thinking about what I need to do in the next Sacred Knight book.
That’s when, of course, the little voice had to pop up, “Aren’t you writing this story into the dark? Shouldn’t you be discovering this as you write, instead of pre-planning this?”
I spent enough time with my cynical voice to know it when I hear it. If it’s snarky, and sounds little bit like Dragzel, it’s my critical voice.
I instantly found myself replying back, out loud, “I’m just throwing things into the hopper to let it walk around in my subconscious. I don’t need to make firm plans. I’m just mulling it over. Then we’ll see what the cat actually spits out.”
A lot of times as I’m driving and thinking about things, I do have great ideas. It is one of the reasons why I dictate while I drive. Don’t judge me. I know you talk to yourself, or sing to the radio. Same diff.
But yes, in some ways mulling things over is equivalent to plotting things out. Although, I would put forth one major difference. When the scene decides to arrive to discovery writer, it comes full force, the complete scene, meaning: narrative, dialogue, setting, the whole shebang. While I can’t say it’s completely true, I would say that people who plot their stories would only get a certain elements, such as just an action, needed in order to craft the scene. I’m not saying that one way of writing is better than another. I’m merely saying that there are differences, and I think those differences are and how the scenes land in our head. I would even say, that in truth, writers are really a combination of both at all times. Even when you’re plotting, you don’t know what’s going to happen until you make the decision to make it part of the plot.
I personally would rather get the writing down then have to think things up. Because what I’m thinking things up, I am forcing the story and I’m losing energy out of it. But that’s merely my thoughts about that.
So, I know that when I get the right scene for the story that I’m been mulling over, it will come complete and perfect. At least in my head. What actually arrives down on the page will not be as perfect as it is in my head. It never is. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to mulling things over.