Monday, February 13

The more things change... @ Liz Flaherty

Valentine's Day is tomorrow. I hope you have a great day, that you love somebody, that you are loved by somebody, and that you live Happily Ever After.

There's an old saying...well, there are a lot of old sayings, but this one, credited to Alphonse Karr, says, "The more things change, the more they are the same." This is also a life lesson, of course, but I've been noticing it the past few weeks in writing.

With my publisher, I submit and sell (or don't) on proposal. I send the first three chapters and a not-great synopsis for the editor's approval if I'm under contract or purchase if I'm not. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't, but if it doesn't, I'm not sitting here with an entire manuscript written and nothing certain to do with it. It's...yeah, it's a good idea.

A month or so ago, I finished my last book. I sent it off to the editor, intended to give myself a week off--it hasn't happened yet--and got to thinking about the next story. This thinking was forced by my driving past the apple orchard. And then I started writing, just to sort of see how it would go.

I'm 10,000 words in, I'm still not sure of where I'm going, but I am having so much fun with this story. I think I could write the whole thing and then write the synopsis and enjoy it a lot. I'm worrying about conflict--never one of my strong points--and pacing--another weakness--but, you know, not a lot. Mostly I'm writing, character-building--oops, there are deer running around my side yard, four of them so far. They are so pretty. And in the space of time it took to type the sentence telling you they were there, they were gone, bounding across the fallow field.

This is what happens to me too often when I try to tell the story before I write it. The ideas are good, the conflict workable. I can do it. But I have lost the spontaneity. If the deer bound out of the yard, I still need to write about them as if they are still there with their ears perked, watching their young frolicking (Kristi's word) around on too-long legs. Yes, I can do it, but some of the fun is gone.

Will I write this whole book before writing its synopsis? Probably not--I'm on deadline and there isn't time. And, no, in truth I wouldn't want to go back to not submitting until I had a finished manuscript in hand. The synopsis is easier to write on a finished product, and actually tells the story of the book instead of what I think the book might possibly be. Maybe. But it all takes a lot more time and I just might end up with another manuscript under the bed. This is, I admit, a good thing for indie-publishing (no need for the under-the-bed-file)--not so good for a writer who still prefers trad.

It's fun, though, in the daily-changing world of publishing to do it the way I used to, when I followed the story to the office every morning to see where it would take me. When I wrote about the deer in the yard while their presence was still making me smile, making my heart beat a little faster.

So, as Nan says, discuss. What's your chosen method when it comes to building a book?

Have a great week!

Liz


15 comments:

  1. Liz, as a pantser, I admire your ability to craft enough if a story for a synopsis before you've written it! I once entered a contest for the first 50 pages, but raced to write the whole thing so I knew who defeated the bad guy and could write the synopsis!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The thing is, for me anyway, I write terrible synopses, and it's made worse by writing them first--because the book is always...oh, way different! Although I've learned to plot (a little, with help from friends), pantsing is much more natural--and fun--to me.

      Delete
  2. I used to like pantsing it all as I went through it...but the synopsis/random outline thing I've been doing for the last couple of years has grown on me a lot. A lot a lot. I find I don't write myself into tooooooo many corners...and if something isn't working, I can always move things around. Great post, Liz!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel that way in theory--especially about those corners--and I'm glad I do it that way because it really is good time management, but when it comes to the actual writing, pantsing is still fun.

      Delete
  3. I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum, Liz. I'm working on becoming a super plotter. I'm trying the get the structure of the story right from the beginning so I don't end up doing a bunch of rewrites. I like the security of having a road map because I find it scary to sit down at the computer and not have a clue where I'm going. Whatever works, right?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Man, I'm this very same dilemma right now--trying to get a synopsis done on a book that's barely started. But the story is in my head,so I'm giving it a try for the very first time. Hmmmm... hugs, baby! Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck. It doesn't help that synopses are spawns of Satan in the first place...

      Delete
  5. The only way I've written so far is in the fly. I knew where the story began but changed how I got to the end numerous times. I entered the IGO contest two years in a row. I found it difficult to write a synopsis when the story wasn't finished. I did better the second year with the synopsis. I have finally finished my story. (Yeah) now begins the rewrite. The story still begins the same but doesn't come close to either synopsis. I like it better now. Looking forward to hsving the time to write more soon. Thanks for the thoughts Liz.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Patrice. There is something so satisfying about finishing--even if you know changes are coming!

      Delete
  6. I'll build a book *any way you want*! But with only five traditionally published books under my belt, editors aren't exactly kicking down my door to hire me based on a proposal.

    I've only done one project in which I was contracted before the book was written, and to be honest it freaked me the heck out. Despite having a weekly humor column for decades, I still wasn't prepared to have a book deadline staring me in the face without a finished product. However, as I said, I'm happy to do things in any order that will get me published.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was a little freaked the first time I sold on proposal--I've only done it a few times--but I do love having a deadline that I haven't imposed on myself (I'm way too lenient of a boss.) I had a newspaper column, too, that was my favorite thing ever, and I loved that I HAD to do it. Thanks for coming by, Mark.

      Delete
  7. I'm still at the stage that I actually have to finish something to submit it. LOL. I don't know if I'd be able to write any other way, but if someone wants to toss money at me, I'd be willing to try. LOL Good post, Liz!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Margie, and I have every confidence when the "hit" is right, you'll finish admirably. FWIW, my money's still on the suitcases. :-)

      Delete
    2. That's what I'm working on right this bet my minute. Lol 16K and counting.

      Delete