3 Nov 2013

NaNo 2013 - Scaffolding, My Writing Style

Anyone who has even listened in on a conversation about NaNoWriMo has probably heard the term "pantser".  In NaNo circles, "pantser" means someone who writes by the seat of their pants, adding to their story as they go with little to no outlining.  The opposite is an "outliner", someone who prepares by creating an outline to work from in November.  Outlines do not count towards the word count; even the NaNoWriMo site points out that an outline is permissible, as long as actual writing hasn't started before November 1st.  Me, I'm a scaffolder.

Okay, that needs an explanation.  I'm not an outliner.  I tried an outline once, where I worked out each scene and chapter, and found that it wasn't as interesting to work on.  I did, however, complete that story with over 58 000 words.  If you're following Lethal Ladies on Fridays, that turned into a seat-of-the-pants deal when I found myself coming to an end twenty thousand words too soon.  What I do, mostly, is create a framework, a scaffold, that I can hang my writing from.  To this end, I work out characters, work out key scenes, figure out the ending, then start writing.  If there's a gap between scenes, then I just hope something comes up to fill it in, but the pre-writing work helps me know what will happen.  Thus all the detail I've put into Ione and the rogue angel.

Once I start, I work on a few scenes, which could be one massive scene with action or a number spread over several chapters.  Often, this involves picturing the scenes in my head playing out like a movie.  This lets me move the "camera", the point of view, around so I can see what my focus character does.  I can stop the "film" as needed to take note of details, work out angles, adjust lighting, even move a character if needed.  The film also lets me take note of dialogue and see when voices aren't quite right.

Doctors complain about my illegibility.
After I get the scene in mind, I start writing it down in my head.  In NaNo, you're supposed to kick your inner editor to the curb.  Instead, I let the inner editor at the first go, in my head, before anything is committed to type.  Once I'm happy with the scene in my head, it gets typed out.  I used to write longhand, to force myself to do a revision.  My handwriting, though, is awful. if that.  So, I skip the handwriting and jump straight to typing.
 It's not so much an illegible scrawl as very squished.  Thanks to an old injury, writing longhand is also painful after ten minutes,

When I run out of scenes to write, it's time to make way towards the next key event, whatever that would be.  If I feel that there's a huge gap between where I am and where I need to be, I toss in a few extra bits to flesh out the characters, the setting, and the plot.  Worse case, I toss a random encounter at the characters to see what they do, then try to retcon why the encounter happened.  Best case, I figure out that the characters need to do something to cause the next key event to occur, so I can write them setting up the event.  Once the story is done, I can go back and smooth things over so that the unexpected events are seamless.

Simple, no?

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