I got asked to write about plots, subplots, and, in particular, about "the subplot of a love triangle or square or pyramid...or whatever shape you want." So, here we go. Ahem. Let's see here. What do I know about plots or plotting? Not much, considering the fact that I do pantsing, although I did plot my trilogy extensively, but then gave up. Plotting ahead of the story is just not my thing, although the more I meet and talk with wildly successful published authors out there in the wide wild publishing world, I start kneading my brain in wonder, because all of them so far told me that they plot, so I'm thinking, what the fuck is wrong with me then? I should plot too. But here is the thing, I DO plot, only differently. You see, plotting ahead kills the momentum of the story for me. I know how my book will end, but I don't know how it will get there. I write the way I would read somebody else's book, without knowing what happens next. Each morning I wake up, excited, eager to start writing because I want to know who ate whom, or how, or crunched on what bone and sucked on it for how many minutes exactly. Oops, sorry, this is my under-the-bed monsters line, so they are growling at me right now. Anyway. Where was I. Ah, plots. Subplots. Sub-sub-subplots.Read More
This is a very interesting topic to cover, and it didn't even occur to me until my Twitter followers asked me to write about it. And write about it I will, because I happen to do both. I have plotted SIREN SUICIDES extensively, creating a whole separate folder full of files, with a biography of every character, their specific backstories, the origins of their names, etc. I also spent countless hours on research and have gone through multiple little notebooks where I have written out every single chapter as one line and as a paragraph summary, constantly going over it and cleaning it up until I felt I got it right. SIREN SUICIDES was my 1st novel (it will be published in July). I'm currently writing my 2nd novel, and the process couldn't have been more different. I've planned nothing at all. A vivid scene, like from a movie, came to me in a dream, I woke up and quickly wrote it down, then more scenes came to me, when daydreaming, about 5 total, while I was finishing the last draft of SIREN SUICIDES. After I was done, I took 2 weeks off and plunged right into ROSEHEAD, only using 1 piece of paper with names of characters written on it and about 10 sticky notes with little clues written on them, stuck to my table. That's it. I'm about 2/3 done with 1st Draft of ROSEHEAD, so bear this in mind. I'm not experienced in this at all, but so far from what I've done and from what it feels like, I prefer pantsing to plotting. Here is why.
I write like I read somebody else's book. Literally, every day when I wake up, I have this picture in my head, like a movie I was watching the night before that has been put on pause, and I pick up from the moment I left off. I have no idea what the day will bring, what my characters will do or how. Just yesterday a new character appeared in a chapter, only to promptly die at the end of said chapter. I was astounded when it happened. I swear, it wasn't me! The characters did it themselves, it just had to happen, to push the story forward. Now, this sounds very scary and disorganized, doesn't it? But here it why I prefer pantsing. The excitement of discovering what happens next is what keeps me going. It's like I'm reading a book, and can't wait to know how it ends. This cures me of writer's block. I don't have one. I don't like stopping, and I can't wait to start again. I feel like I'm totally fooling everyone, including myself, and am getting away with it. It's the ultimate mischief. When I compare it with SIREN SUICIDES, I remember with horror how I made myself write it in later stages, how hard it was to start every day. I already knew what was going to happen, and simply describing it didn't give me as much satisfaction as I get now. How will ROSEHEAD compare? I have no idea. My readers will tell me, but I know that I'm having fun writing it.
Fresh ideas make me write very fast. I figure, if I'm excited while writing my book, my reader will be excited to read it. Whatever I feel, the reader will feel. So if I'm bored, my reader will be bored. Because I have no outline, no plan at all, I just go crazy. The first thing that comes into my head, I write it down. Because of this, I hardly spend time thinking or researching, I barely have time to write it all down. And, as a result, I write very fast, producing about 2,000 to 3,000 words a day on average, during a 3-4 hour chunk of time, sometimes up to 4,000 words or more. I will be done with 1st Draft in a couple weeks, which makes it 6 weeks total for first draft. This keeps me going, because I can picture the book happening already, it kind of drives itself. I'm not pausing to doubt, or to research, or to think, or to gather my wits, or whatever else it is we writers do that takes us away from actual writing and gets us into the land of misery called everything-I-write-is-shit-and-nobody-will-ever-read-it. Yeah, I know, I've been there. It's horrible. I nearly got pulled into it today, when I started thinking too much. Reading Harry Potter helped me put myself on track, because I saw how J.K. Rowling totally goes nuts with her imagination, so I slapped myself hard for doubting.
I do more writing and less planning. I realized that all this time I spent on planning and plotting and outlining SIREN SUICIDES, I could have spent on writing something new. With ROSEHEAD, I'm not losing this time, I'm doing actual writing. Yes, you might tell me, it will suffer because of it. Yes, you can roll your eyes here at me. I totally get it. But for a rookie writer like me, for a beginner like me, writing time is precious experience time. The more I write, the better I will get. So what if I will write trash. I will trash it and write more trash. I will trash that too and will write even more trash. I will keep writing trash unti it turns into gold. Fresh stories will keep me going, instead of having me focused on planning something old and tired that doesn't get me excited anymore. Why suffer? Life is too short for that. I don't know if any of my novels will ever enable me to make a living. My savings are slowly running out. I have about 9 months left. I want to have fun now, to write now, until I'm out of money and might not be able to write anymore. Pantsing gives me so much fun, I sometimes feel guilty, because it feels like I don't deserve, like I'm having too much fun, and someone will come and beat me up for it.
Until then, I will keep writing the crazy stuff that comes into my head and have fun at it, hopefully giving my readers the same fun while they are reading my novel. If they will want to read it, of course. They might come back and say: "You know, Ksenia, this ROSEHEAD thing of yours, it's complete rubbish." And so I will be off again, writing more, writing as fast as I can, while I can, to hopefully produce a better book. This is my story. What's yours? What method do you prefer and why? Come on, share in comments. I would love to learn from your experience.