My writing “process” has so differed from project to project, I can’t even relate to the die-hard pantser/plotter discussions anymore. And really—when it comes down to it, a pantser is simply someone who plots in detailed prose, and a plotter is simply someone whose pantsing happens in a streamlined outline.
The writing process for Breath of Stone is, again, very different. Tearing apart two novels, ripping out an entire plotline and set of characters, cramming everything that’s left back together into one volume, and making it all flow as if I’d always envisioned it that way… And wow, holy shit, this is hard.
Outside of a couple chapter-here-and-there cases, I write my novels straight through. Start to finish, I move between viewpoint characters, shift settings, and push forward the plot. Everything is pointed toward That Scene – the one event/confrontation/exchange, usually near the end, that is the entire reason I’m writing the novel.*
But this time… I’m writing out of order. Yes, yes, I know many writers do this as a matter of course. I don’t. So the fact I’m writing Breath of Stone one viewpoint at a time, start to finish, is a bizarre experience. At first, I spent far too much time crosschecking while I wrote to make certain each chapter would fall into its perfect place, as if they were Tetris pieces falling from the sky faster and faster and faster… It didn’t work for long. Not even my Magic Index Cards could save me.
So now I’m writing chapters according to viewpoint as if I’m sorting puzzle pieces by color before attempting to assemble it. No, wait, that’s not quite right. It’s more like… carving brand news puzzle pieces to match the picture on the box, and I won’t know exactly how to make the pieces fit perfectly until… well, until I try to make the pieces fit together. Then it’ll be all about shaving an edge here, sharpening a corner there, and making sure I didn’t create a snore-fest sea of blue-sky pieces in the process.
And it should all fit within the single novel.
Aaaaaand that’s a goal. Not a promise. Hee.
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* I have a critical That Scene for the SheyKhala series. It happens about eight years after Sand of Bone. I’ve no idea if I’ll one day write the novel that includes That Scene, but it remains the distant point I journey toward.