Monday, September 28, 2009

A Peek Inside

My "process" (nod to KV Taylor, Danielle Ferries, and Cate Gardner among others for going before):

1. Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter?”

I like to know the end before I begin, but I generally let the story and characters write the rules as they go. I've flirted with plotting, but it all crumbles in the process. The end is a destination, but the journey to the end is the story.

2. Detailed character sketches or “their character will be revealed to me as a I write”?

A little of both. Some characters need specific flaws or "character glitches" to make things work out. I try to write with honesty and avoid "types" as much as possible. Every person (and character) has the ability to do great things or to fail miserably.

3. Do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing?

This goes along with knowing the end before I begin. Although some of a character's personality might be revealed along the way, I like to know what motivates them--especially in short fiction--because motivation helps dictate how they resolve their "problems".

4. Books on plotting – useful or harmful?

Read every written word of advice with a skeptical eye. Even these.

5. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?

Once I start, I can really cruise. Starting is the trick. If I don't write for a while, the itch takes over.

6. Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time?

Life intervenes: I simply cannot write for hours at a time. I can't do anything for hours at a time anymore. I do always try to stop while I'm still enjoying the process--it makes it much easier to return later.

8. Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate?

The man cave is my best friend. Ambient music is nice, too. For spooky writing I like On Land and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (Brian Eno) or Stalker (Robert Rich and B. Lustmord). Midnight Syndicate is nice, too, but a little cheesy. The music sets a mood and provides sufficient "off-white noise".

9. Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)

Computer. No debate here. I occasionally sketch notes, but only if a keyboard isn't available.

10. Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One?

Absolutely. The end is never "set in stone", but it never deviates much from what I've planned, either. I allow for development, but I have to have a destination, especially in longer works. Otherwise, I'm floundering (like with my current WIP...ugh).

11. Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?

Maybe it should...

12. Editing – love it or hate it?

Love it. Editing is the real meat of writing. First drafts...just make sure the plot is in the right place. Editing is where the magic happens. It is crucial to give each piece a few days of "simmer" time before reading it again (or a few weeks/months in terms of a novel).

That was fun. Try it.


Jamie Eyberg said...

Very nice insight into the dark and productive world of Mr. Polson.

Fox Lee said...

I'm pleasantly surprised by how many writers enjoy editing : )

Aaron Polson said...

Jamie - Dark and productive. I like those adjectives.

Natalie - Editing makes me feel okay about writing. If the public had to read my first draft...yikes.

Carrie Harris said...

Awesome. And I'm with you on the editing. Without editing, I would be very VERY humiliated.

Cate Gardner said...

I always feel safe when I'm editing. I know I have my story and it's just a matter of making it pretty.

Thanks for the look into your brain.

And on your recent publication - Taking Root - (as I am fan club president, I of course had a minion advise me of its publication) - marvellous slow weave through creepyville and what an ending.

Rebecca Nazar said...

Hmmm . . . #1-3 I wing it. I think "pantsers" have more focus than I do. #4-10 All depends. Shhhh . . . don't tell anyone I fake it 'til I make it.

Aaron Polson said...

Carrie - I stand by my edits. First drafts...somebody else wrote those. We'll blame it on the "muse".

Cate - Ah...the ending. One of those stories where the end came before the beginning and I had to figure out how to get there.

Becca - We all fake it. Fiction, right? ;)

Akasha Savage. said...

I was going to give that a go over on my blog...but...all my answers would have been exactly the same as yours! Great minds think alike!! :)

Aaron Polson said...

Akasha - great minds do indeed think alike.

Danielle Birch said...

Thanks for sharing. I too am surprised at how many enjoy editing.

Katey said...


The end is a destination, but the journey to the end is the story.
I read something similar once-- I think it might've been Gaiman or something-- where it said that if he outlined, it was more boring because he felt the story was already written. No journey.

(like with my current WIP...ugh)
Sorry dude. I had a bad hiccup in that last monster I wrote, so I really feel your point. The rearranging and rewriting was dismal, but it worked out in the end!

Aaron Polson said...

Danielle - editing makes me feel more competent. I can fix problems before anyone else sees them.

Katey - awesome meme. I think I'm untying my knotted WIP. I think.

Anonymous said...

Very cool! I totally eat stuff like this up! I like to see how the process works for everybody else.

Also, I'm now a die-hard fan of @artwiculate, and sent the link to one of my teacher friends. He is also using it with his students now. Thanks for the heads up.


Aaron Polson said...

Rawk on, Mercedes.