Continuing my theme of self-indulgent posts largely consisting of lists, I’ve decided to have fun with a writers’ meme that’s currently doing the rounds.
1. Are you a "pantser" or a "plotter"? Plot … no pants … no, pants plot. Much as I’d like to, I’m not confident enough to go totally seat-of-the-pants (yet): I need to have an outline so I can deviate from it. It does tend to be pretty sketchy though, especially around the middle.
2. Detailed character sketches or “their character will be revealed to me as I write”? Again, I need a starting point, even if I then go off on one. Actually, I tend to stick fairly closely to the original concept, though I often find out additional things about them as the story progresses. Possibly because I came at writing through short stories, I like writing stories about new characters before they get anywhere near a novel.
3. Books on plotting – useful or harmful? When I started out my plotting seriously sucked, and some of the better ‘How to’ books helped put me on the right path. These days I’m a bit more set in my ways, though that doesn’t mean I don’t have lots to learn from how other writers work – see further Tim Powers’ fantastic ‘How to Plot a Novel’ talk last Eastercon.
4. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work? Depends on which stage I’m at in the writing process. My house is never so clean as when I’m waiting for that idea churning round in my subconscious to finally accrete some sort of plot.
5. Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time? Again, depends where I’m at. First draft I can usually manage for no more than an hour or two before I have to get up and pace/eat/blog/clean something. Rewrites are much easier, and if I’m re-organising the pattern of the story over several thousand words, I sometimes don’t want to stop until it’s done – or until Beloved reminds me to eat or sleep.
6. Are you a morning or afternoon writer? Afternoon, on the grounds of having to do a day-job in the morning. Given I’m not a morning person, this is probably the right way round.
7. Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?) When the ideas are running rampant my house is filled with barely legible notes written on scraps of paper. When the time comes to cram the ideas into a story, I need a computer; I can type far faster, and more legibly, than I can write, and there’s no find/replace command for handwriting.
8. Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One? Sort of. I know approximately what the state of play should be: who’s alive, who’s dead, where they are and the kind of shit they’ve been through. But it’s all subject to change.
9. Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write? Not as much as it probably should. I tell myself that one of the reasons it took me so long to get published was that I write what I love, not whatever the current fad is. These days, with publishers and agents involved, I do pay more attention than previously to the commercial aspect.
10. Editing – love it or hate it? Love it. It’s so much more fun and less painful than first draft. I’ve done all the hard work, now I just need to create a decent story out of the building blocks I so painfully excreted.