As I’ve been gearing up for the release of The Peculiars on May 1st, I’ve been desperately trying to finish the first draft of a new YA manuscript, working title Andrew & Emmaline. The story began with an intriguing idea that I wanted to explore and with the character of Emmaline, alone in a dim, book store with a broken light in a clerestory. I started writing when Emmaline started speaking.
Recently a friend told me about two labels, conceptual and intuitive, for two different types of writers. The labels address that old writing rift between those who outline and know every or almost every step of their story before writing, the conceptualists, and those need the story to unfold for them as they write, the intuitives. My friend is definitely of the conceptual variety. He has notecards for each scene before his fingers hit keys. He has notecards for his notecards. I’ve always thought of myself as somewhere in-between. A writer who knows the direction the story is going, who knows many of the major destination points along the way, even if I couldn’t fill in all the blanks. That is until this manuscript. Every time I try to think ahead, fill out a card, plan a plot point, my brain freezes.
So I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t the story that decides. Stories that are closer to the bone depend more heavily on the subconscious. Or maybe the story reflects the way my life is unfolding right now. Lots of things are out of my control. I can’t plan how Peculiars will be received. I don’t know what will happen next. That’ scary. Some days I wonder if I’ll ever plot again. For this story, for this time my subconscious is taking me out of the driver’s seat and saying wait ‘til you see what I’ve got to show you. It means more work for me. More revision, more days when I feel stuck. More times when I talk to writing friends and say what do think? But at the computer, most days, it’s like I’m sitting down to a story being told and I’m listening in.
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