All artists have a process. Some processes are more fluid than others. I’ve read about writers whose processes are so disciplined and sacred, they admit to being downright neurotic about them. I’m admittedly neurotic about a multitude of things, but my writing process is not one of them.
I do an outline, but it’s never at the beginning. The beginning is the title and the excerpt that I put at the end of the previous novel when it is finished. Those first two things force me to begin the outline. I have a title. I have a tone set with an excerpt. They are both already published with the previous novel. Now I’m bound to do the work.
Outlines are work. They have structure, a time line, the introduction or re-introduction of characters, the mood and pace of the plot and its purpose in the overall story line of the series. However, my outlines are not bibles. In my opinion the rigid adherence to an outline is the first step toward making a novel formulaic, the death knell of a fiction writer’s career.
An outline is simply a guide, a rough idea as to the direction the book is going. An outline doesn’t take into account detours that the characters may run into along the way. It can’t predict where a particular scene may veer an entire chunk of plot off course, move events around on the time line, or change the nature of character relationships to add misdirection for the readers.
It’s those unintentional and spontaneous twists and occurrences that make the writing fun and make the story stay vital and exciting. Enjoy.
Sometimes there are events in life that simply render a perfectly capable and conscious person bereft of any sort of cognitive contribution. I’m just starting to find my way out of such an event.
Not that it was a total shock. I knew it was coming. There was preparation in play. It’s just the event chose to move its date up by a month and a half and throw all my well laid plans to dust (ha, another win for never bothering to make plans).
As such, contingencies and compromises took over, resulting in priorities shifting very quickly. As you can tell my my recent and severe lack of communication, my writing suffered greatly from the shift.
I hope to find my way back very soon. I acknowledge the personal importance of writing as well as its importance to those around me. The writing helps to keep things in check in my head, like the important component in my emotional ecosystem. Without it, shit goes wacky in a bad, bad way. That’s not good for anybody.
Consider this my first attempt at restoration. Let’s hope for all our sake, it’s repeated constructively and often.
I bring this up as the result of an article I read on tvwriter.com regarding pop culture and it’s impact on societal evolution, namely racial issues, specifically regarding African Americans (if in fact that is still the correct vernacular). Naturally, I reflected on my own personal contribution of pop culture to the masses in my writing.
That’s when I asked myself a question that I imagine many readers might ponder upon: “Why is Darlene prejudice against Native Americans when she’s married to a black man?” My simple answer is this: I don’t write my series to change the political discourse. I write what I have observed and absorbed about the world around me. And one thing that resonates time and again is the human compulsion for duplicity.
We are very privileged to be born with these huge brains that are more than willing to compartmentalize our beliefs into neat little packages that don’t make sense or communicate with each other. And Darlene is a perfect example of that. She grew up in a pervading environment of belief that Native Americans were violent alcoholics with diminished family lives who wasted away on the reservations waiting for government assistance. It’s probably safe to say that Darlene never knew any of her Native American neighbors personally, so her prejudices stayed stubbornly intact.
Not so with Cameron. Her exposure to him probably eliminated many preconceived notions that were most likely influenced almost exclusively by movies and television. He broadened her perspective about African Americans, but did little to affect her misconceptions about Native Americans. And Cameron most likely has preconceived notions about rural Caucasians that will only be eliminated with exposure and vise versa.
No matter what convenient label the media (myself included) would like to put an any demographic, it really does nothing to explain the entire picture. I like to think my characters resonate with readers because they see traits of themselves in all of them, regardless of race, gender, orientation, etc. It is up to the readers to observe the small sliver of reflection and decide if I’ve exposed them to the possibility of self examination and change.
And if my observations only reinforced deep seeded stereotypes, I take this time to apologize. I blame my big brain.