Style and Personality

Listening to: Rise Against, “Life Less Frightening”

Yes, it’s been like, a week since I’ve blogged. I’m a bad li’l blogger.

I’m at that wonderful stage where I’m querying my previous novel while knee-deep in a new one. I wrote 2000 words the other night, and I’m re-tooling my query letter (with many suggestions from the fabulous Tia) as well. It’s truly amazing what a pair of fresh eyes can see.

As for the new novel, it’s…interesting. I’m at 11k words, and I’m still not really sure where it’s actually going. Mainly because the darn characters won’t stop talking. I don’t know why, exactly, it’s so dialogue-heavy–that’s not really characteristic of my writing. But they won’t shut up! The chapters are much longer than what I normally write, too, although that’s not terribly important.

I’ve come to realize that my writing style doesn’t really mesh too well with my personality. I’m a big fan of having control and knowing exactly where I’m going–just ask anyone who’s ever driven with me. I get nervous if I don’t have the whole route mapped out, or if I don’t know the next two turns that are coming.

When it comes to writing, though, my map flies out the window at the beginning of every journey. Or maybe I never even had a map, I don’t know. I’m definitely a “pantser” by default–I suck at plotting or outlining everything in advance. It just doesn’t work for me. My mind goes utterly blank if I try to see even to the middle of a novel while I’m working on the beginning. I may get glimpses here or there, snippets of future scenes that run through my mind, but on the whole I’m pretty much clueless.

This is something that I’m slowly getting used to, and maybe even enjoying a little. I’ll admit, there’s a certain amount of trepidation (okay, fine, outright terror) when I sit down at the computer or notebook and don’t really know what my characters will be doing, saying, or thinking that day. But, ever so slowly, I’m learning to have fun with it. There’s a certain amount of pleasure in shutting up the neurotic voice screeching questions at me (Where is this going? What are they doing? What’s going to happen in the next chapter? I must know!) and just writing.

It’s the one time I can actually shut that voice up and live in the present, rather than constantly trying to prepare for the future.

This is a topic I’m very interested in, so I’d like to hear about other writers. How about you? What kind of writer are you, and does it mesh with your personality–or clash with it?

3 thoughts on “Style and Personality

  1. This is a really good topic. I think it requires a whole blog entry (probably at my writing blog). I’m also going to ask it at TC.

    Short version is that I also like to know where I’m going in general. I like to read the end of a book first or know generally how a movie goes. But for writing, I like to sit back and let the narrator take me through the story and show me what he thinks is important. Weird, isn’t it?

  2. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot, actually (I’ve blogged about it–shameless plug–here and here.

    Personally, I like to start with a general outline. It’s like booking a flight and hotel for a vacation: I plan the general idea, but all the details I make up as I go along.

  3. I start out very general as well. With Forging a Legend, I ended up changing the ending, completely. (I had never envisioned Abriel taking on Thesk–I had come up with something else that was so lame that I never bothered to write it.)

    With Starcaster, I only had a vague, shadowy outline in mind. I didn’t even know who the enemy was until I finished the first draft of the novel. It was THAT sketchy.

    With my Hollywood romance, I know the whole plot, but I don’t have the exact ending mapped out. I’ve only written three chapters of this one.

    I have the beginning and ending of a fifth novel thought of, but I have not started writing anything but sketches.

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