n3m3sis43: ((FMAB) Huuuughes and Winryyyy)
[personal profile] n3m3sis43
"There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running, and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up."

--George R. R. Martin, on the difference between outlining and discovery writing



I'm only writing this because I can't finish my book.

It went so well at first. I banged out a first draft, sat back, relaxed--and then realized it was crap. Which I was okay with, because I hear this is a common problem with first drafts. I figured I was home free, since all I had to do was fix it in the second draft. How naive I was. One does not simply write a second draft--not if one is a discovery writer.

In the fabulous world of discovery writing, the process goes something like this.

1. Write your first draft.
This part is pretty easy, because the characters kind of just do things. You'll probably spend a lot of time asking yourself, "Why would he [or she] do that?" Other than that, things are good, your creative juices are flowing, you're thinking, "Wheeeeeee, I can do this! I can really write a book." If you're writing 1000 words a day or so, you're done in a few months.

2. Review what you've written.
Here's where you start to run into trouble, because this is when you realize 90% of your "novel" is character development. Say you've got a 100,000-word first draft. The typical novel has 250-300 words per page, so you've written a 400-page book with, at most, 40 pages of plot. Whatever plot you do have bears little resemblance to the story you thought you were writing.

3. Write an outline for your second draft.
To a discovery writer, outlining might sound like pure torture. It's not so bad, though--all you have to do is pick up the cues your characters have given you and develop them into a coherent plot. It's satisfying to see it take shape, and you're optimistic for your second draft.

4. Begin the second draft.
Oh, boy. Remember that outline you wrote? Your characters laugh in the face of it. Within a few thousand words, your plot's taken an unexpected turn, thereby invalidating most of your carefully thought-out storyline. You may still have a basic idea of where the book is going, but how you're going to get there? That's a bit of a mystery.

5. Regroup.
Stop expecting your characters to cooperate and resign yourself to the fact that they're going to do what they want, when they're damn well ready. Give up on writing "in order" and write the chapters in the order they reveal themselves to you. Attempt to determine what order everything is really supposed to go in. Practice deep breathing.

6. Panic.
At this point, you may begin to lose your mind. It's not unusual for your characters to feed you lines of story as you're waking up or falling asleep. While you're driving, in the shower, during sex. You have 200,000 words of random notes for your book but only six chapters in your second draft. Your characters lie to you. You argue with your characters. They argue back.

7. Repeat steps 3-7 as needed.
Do them in any order you please. Rewrite the same chapter five times. Whatever. It's not like you're finishing the fucking book anyway.

8. Realize that your "main character" is not, in fact, your main character.
In hindsight, this probably should have been obvious. Oops.

9. I have no idea.
I already told you--I wouldn't be writing this if I could finish my novel.


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Date: 2014-03-31 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Thank you. <3

Date: 2014-03-31 09:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elledanger.livejournal.com
Just think - on the journey to finish you want to write, you'll have gathered enough material to write at least 4 other books! :D

Date: 2014-03-31 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
I probably will have. :)

Date: 2014-03-31 10:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elvagreenfield.livejournal.com
Haha! Yes. This.
Especially 6.

Date: 2014-03-31 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
I'm both pleased and sorry that you can relate. :D

Date: 2014-03-31 10:14 pm (UTC)
ext_224364: (Default)
From: [identity profile] x-disturbed-x.livejournal.com
Oh this is so true. XD

This both had me laughing and sort of crying, haha.

Date: 2014-03-31 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
It was vaguely cathartic to write. I really do have 200k of random story notes. It's sad. :D

Date: 2014-03-31 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] favoritebean.livejournal.com
I can definitely relate to this. Particularly step 4-7.

Date: 2014-03-31 11:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
I have spent a lot of time on steps 4-7 over the past year. At this point, I think I'm somewhere between steps 3 and 4, because I'm writing/rewriting beginning chapters and trying to organize all the random notes.

Date: 2014-04-01 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muchtooarrogant.livejournal.com
I loved this. In particular, since I'm such a fan of outlining myself, "Remember that outline you wrote? Your characters laugh in the face of it." Characters are ALL Bastards.

Well done!

Dan

Date: 2014-04-01 09:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
See, the thing is, I'm a fan of making outlines. When I wrote research papers? Hell yeah, I made outlines. So it's natural for me to make them with my writing, too, and I do think it helps me get my thoughts together.

But characters are total bastards. :D

Date: 2014-04-01 02:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rayaso.livejournal.com
I enjoyed your description of the process. I had never heard the term "discovery writing" before.

Date: 2014-04-01 09:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
I'm glad you enjoyed it. Do you think it was clear enough from the post what a discovery writer was? I wouldn't have had a clue what one was my previous (and first) season in Idol. If I'd just been able to write like a normal person, I might still not. :D

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Date: 2014-04-01 03:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] violaconspiracy.livejournal.com
Just why IS it that they always want to talk just as we're trying to go to sleep? And heaven forbid there's a deadline, because then they'll refuse to talk until the night before it.

Date: 2014-04-01 03:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Right?!! So freaking irritating. And first thing in the morning, by whatever definitions of "morning" they might deem appropriate. What if I wasn't planning to get up yet?

Date: 2014-04-01 04:32 pm (UTC)
ext_273745: (Default)
From: [identity profile] goldmourn.livejournal.com
Yes, this.

Date: 2014-04-01 06:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
It's fun until it's not. :D

Date: 2014-04-01 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beautyofgrey.livejournal.com
I think I get stuck at 6....for months. :D

Date: 2014-04-01 06:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
So did I, last year. XD

Date: 2014-04-01 06:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfshellvenus.livejournal.com
Hahahaha!

I wish I could say I have no idea what this is like. Lengthy pieces confound me, but as a writing process... apparently I'm a "discovery" writer much like you, regardless of the genre or story type. The discovery might lead to an outline, in a shorter piece, but overall? It's the other thing.

Do them in any order you please. Rewrite the same chapter five times. Whatever. It's not like you're finishing the fucking book anyway.
This, plus the "I wrote an outline, and then the characters rewrote it for me by jumping out of the plot," makes you feel as if the thing will never be done. How could it? It's a moving target!

So, is Devin now the main character? Or has it all shifted off again to Kelen, or back to Calla?
Edited Date: 2014-04-01 06:40 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-04-01 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. 23k words of outline. 200k words of random notes. 100k+ words of horrid first draft. And I still have no frigging clue. XD

*sigh*

Sure, let's go with Devin as the main character. He's the one who won't shut up and drives most of the plot. Although saying he "drives" it is kind of like saying lemmings run. Or something, I don't know. I'm overworked lately and too tired to come up with clever things to say.

Date: 2014-04-01 08:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] karmasoup.livejournal.com
Hoo-Boy! I've never actually tried to write a novel, but I do at times experience discovery writing, even in short form. This was a fun ride!

Date: 2014-04-01 10:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
I'm glad you enjoyed it. Discovery writing can be quite the ride, too, can't it?

Date: 2014-04-01 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] linzbnl.livejournal.com
This is great! In fact, it could be completely applicable to my Master's Paper process :)

Date: 2014-04-01 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
I'm glad you like it, but very sorry that your Master's Paper is no more cooperative than my characters. Also, icon love!

Date: 2014-04-01 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ghosted.livejournal.com
Haha, good luck with the book! (One day, I might even get to "crap first draft" stage.) Still, if your characters are having arguments with you, that bodes well for your chances of writing them some more, I'd say.

Date: 2014-04-01 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Thanks! I was so proud of myself for that crap first draft, you have no idea. I just hope someday I will get through the next part of the process. Good luck with your writings, too. :D

Date: 2014-04-01 11:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adoptedwriter.livejournal.com
Great description of the writing process! AW

Date: 2014-04-01 11:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Haha, thank you. :D

Date: 2014-04-02 01:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kecharasmoon.livejournal.com
As someone who once wrote 50,000 words of fan fiction in twelve days, then realized that only about 3000 of them were ANY good, I hear ya!

Date: 2014-04-02 01:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Painful, isn't it? *sigh*

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Date: 2014-04-02 02:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tatdatcm.livejournal.com
This is me too. I can come up with the blurbs and pieces, but tying them all together coherently enough to be an entire book has escaped me so far.

I'm good at the beginning and the end, it's the middle that I just can't seem to structure worth a damn.

Date: 2014-04-02 09:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
God, I can't even get to the middle. One of these days it'll happen. If I don't completely lose it before then. XD

Date: 2014-04-02 02:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] i-will-not-say.livejournal.com
Step 6 is just infinite buckets of fun, isn't it? Who doesn't love a good panic? (I'm just so fond of panicking when it happens to me.) :P

Date: 2014-04-02 09:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Oh, buckets. Welcome to my 2013.

Date: 2014-04-02 10:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crazypuce.livejournal.com
My rule number 1 is write whatever and write it as badly as possible.
Then repeat cause if it was that bad the first time, it can't get worse.
And in the end, like the monkey theory you'll get something of Shakespearian magnitude.

Date: 2014-04-02 10:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Well, I've gotten through the writing it badly part, at least? The rewriting is going to be the death of me, though.

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Date: 2014-04-02 12:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sweeny-todd.livejournal.com
Haha! It is funny (and tragic) because it is true!

Date: 2014-04-02 12:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Maybe I should have written this one for Jayus. XD

Date: 2014-04-02 01:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eternal-ot.livejournal.com
now if only it could ease your pain to hear that you have company here..you nailed the process so well! this is THE WHOLE TRUTH !

Date: 2014-04-02 02:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Thank you so much. I hate that you have to deal with that, too, but it's also nice to know I'm not alone. Best of luck with yours. :D

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Date: 2014-04-02 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarcasmoqueen.livejournal.com
And THAT's why I'll never write a novel - these problems are usually must easier to rectify in short story form... of course, I haven't published a book of short stories either, so that theory might be pure crap...

But enough about me - nicely done, and totally relatable, especially to this bunch!

Date: 2014-04-02 03:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
I do have these problems even with short stories, but with a short piece, like you said, it's easier to rectify (except when it's not, ha). Short stories are hard in a whole different way, though--it's tough getting in all the context you need without bogging it down.

Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. :D

Date: 2014-04-02 03:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljidolvillian.livejournal.com
The only way I finished my full length play was because was trapped at a crap job with a word processor but no internet..

Date: 2014-04-02 03:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
OMG. I think I might explode if that happened to me. No Internet? *shudders*

Date: 2014-04-02 04:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seakittym.livejournal.com
Love it! I have been there!

So you're writing a book - how close are you to finishing? It's hard to tell until it's done, isn't it?

Date: 2014-04-02 06:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Oh man. I spent a lot of time on step 6, and repeating various steps, so I have no idea anymore how close to finishing I am. I have a really shitty first draft, an outline, and 200k words of random notes. :D

I hope you managed to finish yours!

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Date: 2014-04-02 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heeroluva.livejournal.com
Lol, I can related to some of this.

Date: 2014-04-02 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Writing is hard. XD
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