Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Word From Muses Local #128

20100901 typecast
Typed on a Lettera 32
Needs New Ribbon

9 comments:

rad-tastic said...

Best post ever.

Richard P said...

Love it.

I might give NaNo a try again; a couple of years ago I got 20 typewritten pages and then got disgusted with my plot. Maybe plotlessness will be the key to success! (Ha.)

mpclemens said...

Richard, I have to work out plot in advance, otherwise I write myself into a hole and my muse jumps ship. I'm not a confident enough writer (or relaxed enough) to follow the spirit of NaNo and just see where my narrative takes me. I know where it goes: nowhere!

I've written about my process before, and we're supposed to hit high temps today, so I'm going to forgo my lunchtime thrift-scour and type up note cards from my notebook instead.

Little Flower Petals said...

Yeah. I'm figuratively wailing and gnashing my teeth (I'll save the real thing for a more private moment, and try to spare the teeth) the way I always do when the subject of plotting comes up. I can plot all I want to, in as much depth as I want to--detailed character sketches, scene sketches, outlining, etc., etc., etc.--but that does not change the fact that within a few thousand words, the story will have taken off in another direction entirely. I'd like to say I've come to terms with that, but every time this comes up, it infuriates me again. I did more planning than usual last year, and you know what? I could start off with the same notes if I wanted to, because my final story doesn't resemble any of those notes a whit. Or a jot. Or an iota.

I'd like to think I'm not alone, but sometimes it sure feels that way.

mpclemens said...

@LFP: Clearly your muse is a Wild Child, not willing to suffer the constraints put down by The Man, or whatever. Mine dresses in a suit and tie and would prefer just sitting quietly in a corner for thirty days, thank you. In a way, I envy your ability to just set out, free of a constraint or boundary.

I look at my note cards as tiny little milestones, or even beats in a larger word-jam session: as long as I'm landing on the major chords at the right time, I am free to noodle around in-between, knowing that the piece as a whole has a general direction. To mix in another metaphor, it's a matter of trusting that I've anchored the end of the cable before I start my high-wire act.

There's a fair amount of wiggle-room, though: don't think that I've plotted every moment of the work, or filled in every scene or anything. Last year's novel was about a mismatched group of characters off on a quest. I knew how they got together, the major obstacles and people they would face on the journey. I knew when other characters made their entrances and exits, and I knew how it would tie together at the end. I had all the story peaks laid out by the end of October. That left November to fill in all the stuff between those peaks: interactions among the characters, reasons why so-and-so came along or left at points in the story. A lot of details filled themselves in as I wrote: parts that I had left vague either intentionally or (more likely) because I simply had No Idea at the time. And I'm very happy with how those passages are shaping up on revision.

I have trouble facing a whole unwritten novel, and seize up when I can't see the ending or the way to get there. But laying out those landmarks in advance lets me make the planned journey by an unexpected route.

Strikethru said...

I've decided this: I have three Nano manuscripts from past years that I have never completed editing, and that's a disgrace. Editing is the hard part. If I can't finish editing at least one, I have no business writing any more.

mpclemens said...

@Strikethru: I think manuscripts are like compost -- after a while, all that sh*t will turn into flowers.

Not like you won't be busy in November or anything.

Adwoa said...

I've never seen a script typecast that didn't make me want to join in the fun too! And so you are entirely responsible for my latest entry :-)

As for NaNo... well, that is to be decided. Working on a plot will be a good excuse to type, so I shall start on that and see if what I come up with is promising enough to continue. I like the note cards idea!

Mike Speegle said...

I'm sure that I've mentioned the fact that this muse post by one Mr. Mike Clemens was what introduced me to both NaNo and the typosphere in one fell swoop. In fact, should I ever get around to publishing one of my works, the man himself would be at least partially to blame for the entire endeavor.

Just sayin'.