Shut up and let the subconscious do the driving

23 Jan

Not quite as much writing this week due to being out of town over the weekend, and then having to stop and mull over “what should happen next.” Although I have lots of story ideas for my various characters, I still have to decide what, if any of it, I should use, and I took a couple of mornings out this week to mull.

I’ve gotten far enough into the story now that I’ve settled on about four point-of-view characters and don’t feel the need to jump into the point of view of every character like I did when I was first starting out. So I’ve been alternating between the four, writing a scene for each which advances their story. Early on in the week, though, I finished up a round of scenes and realized I wasn’t sure what should happen next to my main character. I’m kind of “meh” on the stuff I outlined.

So I spent a couple days going through all the material I had on the characters, picking out what’s next for each of them. One scene ahead is as far ahead as I really want to think here. Which leads to a more rambly, meandering first draft admittedly, but I think, in the end, a much better story than one I could have outlined in advance. The best ideas occur to me spontaneously, and I have to give them the time and space to do so. I came up with a lot of good ideas in the past year that way, but I have to allow that there might still be something better buried in my brain.

One thing I do know is, the actual act of writing, getting into the real details of character and plot, can often prove the ideas you had ahead of time are just not workable. And if you have this whole outline based on those ideas and have to ditch it, that work is suddenly moots-ville.

I tried outlining ahead of time, I really did. But in the end, that’s not how my brain works.

4 Responses to “Shut up and let the subconscious do the driving”

  1. cornerofmadness January 23, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

    outlining rarely does me any good either but at least you have some scenes going

  2. neshaffer January 23, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

    There’s a lot of stuff in there I didn’t expect, either. But I’m going with it.

  3. cornerofmadness January 24, 2010 at 3:15 am #

    sounds like a plan

  4. neshaffer January 24, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    Best one I’ve got at the moment….

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