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Writing by the seat of the pants

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  • Writing by the seat of the pants


    With many of your early books (60's/70's), I always get this feeling that anything can and will usually happen in the space of 20 pages without pause for breath.

    With these books (such as the Hawkmoon series and the first Corum saga), did you plan out what was going to happen to the letter, or just go from a bare bones plot and wrote by the seat of your pants as it were, going into ideas and plot tangents as you came up with them?

  • #2
    The structure has to be sturdy. Once you have that (not the plot, but the form of the book) you write by the seat of your pants. You throw in elements as you go, with no idea how they'll turn out and these present themselves as plot resolutions as you get to the end of the book. I still find that I write like this, frequently rejecting a more detailed plot outline because a better idea comes up as I go. However, that sturdy structure, that sense of the elements needed to go into each chapter, remains the key. As far as any plot is concerned you usually need something pulling as well as pushing. I think you'll find this, for instance, in China Mieville's Iron Dream as you'll usually find it in one of my admired forebears Leigh Brackett. It also helps, if you're writing like me, to have everything you want exemplified in one character and another character who acts as a kind of 'chorus' -- a sidekick, in other words. This kind of plot can be applied to almost every generic story, certainly. Something to find, someone who wants to find you! :)

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    • #3
      Mr M, I know exactly what you mean. Since myself and a friend got our comic idea finally running, all we had were a few concrete ideas and key scenes, the main one being the ending. We stick to what we originally planned to do, but we find that new ideas and characters crop up as we progress through the storyline.

      It certainly seems a more fun way of working. You're almost a reader yourself when you suprise yourself with new ideas!
      Call me cockey, but if there\'s an alien I can\'t kill, I haven\'t met him and killed him yet!


      • #4
        I often feel that once one has created a character or a basic 'scene', then ideas, dialogue 'bytes' and visions start to pop up at different rates. It's a bit like directing a play, and having one of your 'actors' suddenly turning to you in mid-rehearsal and going 'Oh, hang on, what if I said this instead?' or the scene-shifters and stage manager breaking in with directorial concepts. In fact, it's exactly like that!

        Where the hell do all these ideas come from? You start off, either actively or passively, and one idea comes:You see an interesting-looking person and 'fictionalise' their story, or you get impressed by an environment and start to weave something set there;but it's the later details that get me - the spontaneous 'inputs'that come as your writing,or in the bath, or out walking the dog: It's like someone whispers them into your brain*. It's fascinating - they just coalesce out of literally nowhere:There must be a process, but it seems to me that it's so fast it's all over and finished before you even consciously recognise that it's happening. Literally ideas popping up in the gaps between the keys! Incredible, really.

        *Suggesting that schizophrenia may be merely a pathology of exaggeration of the creative process?


        • #5
          That was me! Me! Me! Me! Twice!