Monday, October 28, 2013

Pantsing Versus Outlining

I'm an inveterate pantser. That is, for the most part, I write organically. I know the beginning of the story I'm writing, where it ends and sometimes a few of the key points along the way. For the rest I rely on my characters, who always appear before there's any hint of a story, and lead me on. Often they appear first in a short scene, maybe only as an image, then grow and develop until I know them well. All this happens before I have put a word of the story on the page.

For those writers who outline and structure rigorously this is anathema. "How can you not plan," they cry, but I've tried that and and it just doesn't work for me. If I try to fit what I'm writing into a tight plan the result is dull, unconvincing and, to put it bluntly, boring. The vibrant and fascinating characters I first met find themselves strangled by the ties of a predetermined plot but when I let them lose their story comes to life. Of course, they do tend to want to go off on their own adventures. Sometimes this is a good thing but, if necessary, I can always take them in hand when they stray too far. Usually though, it works out even if I do have a few surprises on the way.

Given my method - or lack of it some might say - I found this Writers Digest article by Steven James, where he gives some reasons why pantsing isn't necessarily bad, interesting. The links below the article are full of interesting ideas too.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fake ... Girls

I've mentioned before just how much I enjoy Jim C. Hines' blog. He calls things as they are and has no truck with racism, misogyny, sexism or or any other offensive behaviour - and he's a fine and entertaining writer as well.  

Anyone who is part of the speculative fiction world in any way is likely to have heard of the numerous complaints about fake geek girls by a certain, fortunately in the minority but very vocal, group. This group is scathing about fake geek girls who seem to be any female (especially cosplayers) who dares to tread outside their (that is the group's) prescribed boundaries. If she happens to be good looking that is even more offensive for some obscure reason.

Misogyny comes up in other areas too, of course (those uppity women get everywhere, you know) and Hines' latest post Fake Writer Girls, instead of railing about it, has thoughtful fun with the issue. Between his post and the well moderated comments there is a wonderful list of women writers in the genre to provide a reading list long enough to keep even the well read going for years. Watch out though if you're worried about girl cooties.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Barking Dogs

So a couple of weeks ago, after months of barking by the dogs-over-the-back-fence had escalated to continual daytime barking and hurling themselves at the house doors so adding another layer of noise (and with the other neighbours getting even more twitchy than me and talking about calling the Council) I put a polite note in the owners' letterbox telling them what was going on. I'd been assuming it was happening when the dogs were left home by themselves but since there were three cars parked on the driveway and the dogs were barking furiously when I dropped the note off I didn't expect much to change. But it did and we've had peace until yesterday when they started intermittent barking and yapping again. Today it's increased to almost nonstop howling. Oh dear. I should have known it was too good to last.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Some Thoughts on Poetry

- not necessarily mine.

I call myself an occasional poet. By that I mean I write poetry when something moves me deeply. Unlike some of my friends who are accomplished and prize winning poets - and seem to be able to create something beautiful without too much anguish or soul searching - my poems take much rewriting and even when they are finished, rarely leave me entirely satisfied with them. Even the one I did place with in a competition has never felt quite as good as I would have liked it to be.

Despite this I keep trying and that is why this post by poet Katy Evans-Bush for UK National Poetry Day on her Baroque in Hackney blog resonated with me. While the suggestions she makes are aimed at encouraging participation in National  Poetry Day it seems to me that they can be just as useful on how to make poetry, whether your own or someone else's, part of your life anytime, anywhere.