|Me and Kath. A long time ago.*|
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Let the Great Experiment Begin!
I am a pantser. This means that I sometimes really struggle with transforming an idea into anything resembling a finished draft. I get distracted by Shiny New Ideas, and exchange them as often as Hugh Heffner exchanges his women. I do prefer my Shiny New Ideas to be at least 90% organic material, however.
Anyway, the other week I had a really great Shiny New Idea. It started off as a trashy romance, but it always had more potential than that. There was something underneath, something unexpected that came through in the narrator’s voice that demanded more attention than that. It was far more angry and sarcastic and vulnerable than a romantic character needed. It had Potential. This, I thought, will be better as dystopian YA spec fic.
But, I thought ten minutes later when the inspirational glow had faded, I’ll need to do it properly. No more pantsing. No more rushing. If you like this character so much, treat him with some respect.
I needed help. I needed someone methodical enough to hold me back before I dived in, made a mess, and then decided it was too much bother in the first place. I needed the sort of person who makes lists. I needed the sort of person who makes lists of what lists she needs to make. Really.
I needed my big sister Kath.
Kath isn’t a writer, but I think she can be. She’s an avid reader, she’s got a great imagination, she’s a better speller than I am, and she’s a high school English teacher -- I’m already expecting her to hook us up with some beta readers in the right age group. I ran this by her expecting rejection.
Startlingly, she agreed. Maybe I caught her at a weak moment, but that doesn’t matter. She’s in now!
So far she’s read my sample chapters, liked them, and offered some useful criticism. I like the non-linear narrative, she wrote in the margin. I thought, Oh, is that what it’s called? Cheers. I’ve sent her home with a CD of appropriate scene-setting music, some character sheets to fill out, and a careless mention of “Oh, and if you want to outline the plot, that would be awesome.”
Our real test will come in a few days when I actually force her to put pen to paper, but I think she’s up for it. And, in the meantime, discussing every step with another person has forced me to slow down the out-of-control-trolley-car-with-no-brakes-and-people-screaming-going-down-a-hill that is my usual style of writing. I mean, it’s a hell of a ride, but it always ends in carnage.
I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, in the words of the illustrious Tobias Funke: Let the great experiment begin!
* This was the only photo I could find where I wasn't scowling. Or where I hadn't just given myself a haircut.