Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Honourable Mention

I enjoy entering writing contests. I like the discipline of a deadline, the germ of an idea that is sparked when given a theme. I enter a few each year, not with any intention of winning but just to stretch my writing muscles and to get some feedback.

So imagine my joy when I entered The Write Practice Winter Writing Contest and got an Honourable Mention!

Thrilled isn't the word, I was gobsmacked. There is no prize, they go to the winner and two runners up, but I do get my story published in Short Fiction Break on December 27th.

I have been trying to submit more work lately, not something that I find easy but something that I know I must do if I am to progress and improve as a writer. Sending my babies out into the big, wide world on their own is scary but so far no-one has died! I now need to get working on my first draft manuscript in order to have it ready for the world. I am a little shaky on the process to get closer to publication but I think in the New Year I will start putting out feelers and see if I can make some useful connections.

In the meantime I'm going to bask a little in the Honourable Mention light.
So proud, so happy, so surprised. Do drop by and read it on December 27th, any comments gratefully received. And somebody peel me off the ceiling ... 

Plotting versus Pantsing

I spend far too much time wool gathering rather than actually writing and something that has been occupying my mind recently is whether I should plan my next project or just sit down and write in my usual pantser fashion.

The reason I have been thinking about this is that in the past month I completed my first draft of a manuscript which is now relaxing quietly on my hard drive. I started this manuscript during last year's NaNoWriMo and it was a tiny idea which I began to write and it grew like Topsy. There was no real planning, just a vague idea and a couple of characters. I really enjoyed writing this way, it's the way I have always written so feels natural. The problem is that at times I literally lost the plot! The thing took off in unexpected directions and I now know that part of the re-writing and editing process will be to find a thread that runs through it and follow that thread rather than wandering off on branch lines.

So here is the issue. I now want to begin another manuscript. I have a vague idea, just as I had a year ago. I have my characters, familiar ones from the first manuscript and I have an idea of the journey I want them to take. so do I plan or do I fly?

Pros and Cons
  • I will know where I am going and where I want to end up.
  • However I'm not very good at making a coherent plan and tend to abandon it at some stage as too prescriptive.
  • It's not the way I naturally write so always feels false to me.
  • It feels natural and I know how to do it.
  • I get lost down side roads and up interesting trees!
  • There is little cohesion in a long manuscript.
  • I wonder if it leaves me with a huge editing job because there is no continuity.
So here I am, sitting at the laptop, wondering how to start. This is a familiar place for me over the years. But it is mid December, I may ponder some more over the festive period and see where I end up.  Maybe there is a combination that I can find, some compromise that will let me plan and fly free at the same time. Or maybe I just embrace the inner pantser and go with the flow. Who knows. Certainly not me at the moment!