I listened to an interview of Diana Gabaldon last night. I'd come to it through a writer's e-letter sent every day. That writer said, Diana Gabaldon says she doesn't have any plan when she writes her book. She starts with a blank page. They went on to say, I don't believe her.
That struck me as arrogant. Why would Ms Gabaldon lie about it? The writer went on to say, if you want to try it, go ahead, but you probably can't.
That surprised me, too. I don't think writing fiction has secret formulas, just well-hone insights, tricks, patterns, et cetera, that we can learn from those who have gone before. But one insight for me is that writers, like people, have brains, and those brains work differently from one another.
I've witnessed arguments to that effect. How many times have people heard the same thing and reached completely opposite conclusions? Much has been made about Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist, and how he frames arguments through word selection. Mr Luntz calls out simple ideas: don't say Democrats and Republicans, say Liberals and Americans. Don't call them the rich, call them job creators, or hard-working Americans, etc.
To say then, that all writers must map out their novel, outline it and chart it from beginning to end before they begin, assigns an absolute to creativity that I don't believe exists. I can try to vet some numbers and other opinions on it...but I won't.
All this came home sharply last night as I wrote my novel and addressed Russata entering the Parasam. After plotting scenes, discovering who she was and who her friends and enemies are, I had some expectations about what was going to happen. But as I typed, a wholly different setting and situation arose, resulting in plot twist that I never originally saw. It delighted me to no end, becoming one of those buoying moments that makes writing fun.
Anyway, I'll continue my writing methodology of starting with a blank page and an idea. I tried the James Michener endless outlining path when I took up writing. I'm an impatient sort and impulsive so I disliked the method and abandoned it after struggling with a book for a year and feeling disatisfied. Maybe it was the because it was the first book attempt and I was just learning but I felt so constricted, like I was pounding a round peg into a cement wall where there wasn't any hole. I hope to someday be interviewed about my published novels and my success. More than a hope, sometimes there are fantasies where I'm in a room, talking to writers and fans who listen to my insights. I'm not going to tell them you must outline. I'm going to tell them, find what works for you, and make it work.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com