Monday, November 7, 2011

You Show Me Yours, I'll Show You Mine

Now, there is a reason I started plotting manuscripts instead of pantsing them.  My first manuscript was pantsed.

It was also 180,000 words long. 

Just like my natural hair color makes me look naturally gross, my natural writing habits do nothing good for me or my manuscript.  So had to tweak them- experiment and try out new methods, lengths and colors until I found one that fit my face.  (You know what I mean.)

Some people have the opposite problem- They underwrite;  write down conversations with sparse description and then have to go back and fill out their scenes.

For the first time in a long time I find myself writing a pantsed project for Nanowrimo.  Okay- it’s practically pantsed.  I only outlined the first three chapters and after that all I have are some vague overhead guidelines to follow.

However, my tendency to overwrite might end up coming in handy if I want to meet the 50k mark by the end of the month.  Nanowrimo is definitely giving my natural writing tendencies some ugly dark roots.

Some (most) of the details aren’t necessary.  Like what the MC has picked out wear or what she’s eating or the layout of her home.

Or the needless descriptions of the building.

Or her town.

Or the state. 

Or the weather. 

Or her physical health.

And I’m also indulging back-story galore.

Bad bad bad bad bad.

Will I keep most of the gibberish that’s twisting my plot into pretzel–like pieces?  Probably not.  But I’m having a hell of a lot of fun discovering this new world in minute detail.

What is your natural writing style? (You can be brave and include your natural hair color too if you want:) Mine’s swamp brown. It’s scary.)  Would writing 50k in a month be a challenge for you underwriters?  Overwriters?  

48 comments:

B.E. Sanderson said...

LOL, my first novel topped the scales at 147K, so I totally hear ya. Since then, I've learned to pare down and I hope write a cleaner first draft, but if I just let myself go, I know I'll be looking at another huge, ungainly manuscript.

And my natural hair color is what you see - with a liberal sprinkling of gray. (Okay, I just realize my photo is b&w. Yeah, it's actually brown. Or was brown before the salt attacked my natural pepper.)

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

You guys! I only DREAM of putting 180,000 or 147,000 words on paper!
I guess I'm pantsing it - to some extent. I have done an outline and Im keeping notes and I have thought about this for so long that I totally know where I am going. Still, every time I sit down to write I can hardly wait to see where the journey takes me. It's so much more fun that way!
Natural colour? Salt and pepper. Last spring I died it blonde and it BROKE. At the roots in some places. Bah. I was never meant to be blonde, I guess.

Laura Pauling said...

I tend to underwrite so my word count increases with revisions! But then I usually end up cutting again! :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I swear I do both. I underwrite some elements and overwrite others. Which means by the time I've finished editing the book, the word count might be the same as the first draft, but that's probably the only thing that is the same. I'm always building up in places and bulldozing in others.

Rula Sinara said...

I pantsed my first manuscript too...and I ended up with all the first timer problems such as sagging middle etc...

Now I plot more, but loosely. I guess I'm a cross, but I'm leaning more towards making sure I have a solid plot/outline before investing all that time writing :)

Lorelei said...

Hahahaha! I once wrote a novel that went on and on (that's how I'd always written) for 800 pages. I thinkit was like 300K words.

That's before I learned how to follow a plot line--or what one was. But I'm still a panster. (Jeez, it sounds like a thing kids did in jr. high!)

Anyway, I've learned to follow a basic "flight pattern" with a notebook filled with everything I need and an on-going note document for the WIP, plus notecards to keep me focused. I know where I want to go and how to get there. It usually works out for me.

I am signed up for NaNo, but I've got too many commitments... for one thing I'm waiting my edits from publisher, and am working on a short story, which, if sold, will give me more than finishing a 50K work.

Good luck to you and others who are doing the NaNo! Come say hi!

Lorelei said...

Oops forgot the hair color--and I need to do it today! Warm brown to deep cool brown (depending upon my mood)!

Emy Shin said...

Given free reign, I'm an overwriter who tends to write down everything that crosses her mind. However, lately I've been so self-restricting when it comes to writing that I end up underwriting. I'm still trying to hit that perfect note of just enough.

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

heeheehee! i'm relating heavily on the backstory backstory backstory bit. ohman! but it is fun to get to know the characters and the world, you are SOOOOO right!

my natural hair color is a mousy, blah, light brown, which has now started turning white- not grey, not silver, but WHITE like thread! ugh!

so, within the last two months i've been having adventures in haircolor (not all purposely) purple, flourescent orange, calmer orange, and now dark blonde. i've never been blonde before... i think i had more fun with the orange, though. :P

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

My book coming out in january is I think started wtih 198,000 and ended with 176,000. I htink I took out about 5 million IM pretty sures. Ugggg, now i notice it in every single book I read. NO wonder I used to so much, its so completely over used as it is we dont even notice it anymore.

My natural hair color is mouse poop brown. I would love to change it but my husband doesnt want me to. Sad face!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I have your problem too and am going to try to plot out/watch word count more the next time too.

salarsenッ said...

Oh, sweets, I am an overwriter from HELL! First novel was just about 160,000 words and I thought I was a champion. Haha........

Shelly said...

Panster to plotter. Panster to plotter. Mostly panster.

Tonja said...

My hair is mousey brown, but I like it. Coloring takes unnecessary energy for me, as does writing scenes I'm going to throw away later. I type fast and usually have the scene played out in detail before I write, so I can do the 50K (I hope) in a month if my family is in low-maintenance mode (they are not).

Old Kitty said...

My first drafts are always, always, always over-written!!! I include everything and his brother in detail!!! LOL!!!

My hair's a nice shade of grey bits! LOL! Take care
x

Slamdunk said...

I have the unique writing ability that consistently makes the simple complex.

Best withes with NaNo CQG.

Anne Gallagher said...

Right now my hair is nasty grey because I haven't colored since July. But when I do it's auburn an it looks nice.

As for writing, I tend to overwrite; I like long rambly sentences that eventually get to the point, like this one. My first novel was at 135K. Cut it down to 95. Although I have to say, I've grown as a writer so I can usually get to what I want to say without too much fuss now.

DL Hammons said...

If it isn't FUN, then you shouldn't be doing it! I'm glad your rolling along now!! :)

Hart Johnson said...

hey, my natural color makes me look like crap, too. And I write way too many details first draft, but it is a lot LESS that the extra that comes when i write slower--my first book had 204,000... lots of tangents and stuff. In a WriMo I get too many details of a given day, but that is easier to streamline than plot tangents...

Have fun with it! It all needs to be decrapified anyway (I just learned that word from Trisha)

Dawn Ius said...

I totally do both! I typically start with the first three chapters and then either continue pantsing...or succumb to plotting out the rest of the book. I've had comparable success both ways.

My natural hair colour is mousy brown. Yuck.

Justine Dell said...

I'm a panster, but I write both ways. Sometimes I'll have too much gunk and sometimes I'll have barely enough to understand what's going on. I think it's my brain and what its thinking at that moment when I'm writing. Crazy.

This is my first year for NaNo and I think I'll be just fine with my style (all of them!). Good luck to you!

Oh, and I'm totally a swampy brown, too!

~JD

Connie Keller said...

I'm a pantser (mostly). But I underwrite. Most of my books are 50 to 60K when I finish the first draft. I've always been jealous of overwriters because it seems to me that it would be easier to cut than to "fill in." But I think that's probably the grass-is-greener scenario.

My hair is plain ole brown, though I do highlight it.

KarenG said...

I underwrite. Severely underwrite. I wish I had the opposite problem. But like hair I guess if you have curly you want straight and vice versa. Mine is straight. And my natural color is also gross :)

Meredith said...

I'm definitely an underwriter. During revisions, my manuscript usually doubles in word count. I wish I had your problem!

I've never highlighted or dyed my hair, so it's always been brown, though it's getting some natural red highlights lately.

Tony Van Helsing said...

I would have thought the danger with overwriting is wandering off the point of what you are trying to write.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I have a tendency to do both. I tend to repeat myself (overwrite) but then I'm sparse on setting and have to flesh that out later (underwrite).

I'm a pantser and I've never had a problem reaching 50K.

I've never died my hair but before I found out I was pregnant, I toyed with the idea of dying it red or auburn for a little change.

Johanna Garth said...

I'm a pantser and also an underwriter...which is probably a good combination. As for hair color, it's probably the same swampy brown you describe. :) I just don't remember exactly because its been such a long time since I went natural.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I always end up writing too much; I'm going to have to do some serious editing on my manuscripts. It's difficult because I don't want to let go of what I wrote, but I know I have to, unless people want to read really, really long novels. I think one problem is that I have too many long conversations between my characters and not enough descriptions of their actions.

prerna pickett said...

it's so nice to know I'm not the only one that writes too much. My first draft was 130,000. I've cut that down, but still, I can't believe I wrote that much! I was afraid I wouldn't make it to 60,000. I'm more of a pantser by nature, but I'm learning the art of plotting and outlining. Pantsing is just so much more fun and unpredictable!

Cynthia Lee said...

My hair is mouse brown, with a strand or two of gray.

I'm a definite pantser, which I kinda hate because I essentially have to write my own books at least twice. The story never ends up the same way it starts.

I wish I could outline but I've tried it and it didn't work.

julie fedderson said...

I'm having a passionate love affair with back story. I may not have a plot, but that birthday party the mc had in 5th grade? I know the color of the balloons. I'm a natural blond, too. Please blog slowly so I can keep up.

Melody said...

Haha, I'm definitely an overwriter if I let myself go. My lovely little NaNo novel has dipped and twisted to random bits of backstory, world-building, things that happened two days ago, two hours ago, two years ago, in no particular order, along with what clothes she's wearing, and why not put in the reason for why she's wearing those clothes, anyway, eh? :) But I'm loving it. I'm using NaNo as a way to get myself back in a semblance of free-write mode, and, so far, I'm getting there. :)

Jessica Love said...

I'm like you...I'm such an overwriter that it's a little ridiculous.

Marie Rose Dufour said...

I'm a pantser by nature and sometimes I overwrite and sometimes I underwrite! NaNo is so daunting, I don't know if I will ever try it.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

You know I'm a pantster!

As for the bloated word count ... meh. You can edit that stuff out in the second and third draft. Sometimes it's important for you to write it so you know what's going one. Then later you decide if the reader needs to know it.

My natural hair color is a brown so dark it came close to being black. You can glimpse it whenever I post pictures of my daughters.

Cherie Reich said...

Wow, that's a big word count.

I'm an underwriter. I have my outline and I write the bare bones of scenes to get the first draft done. Then I have to add to them, flesh them out more. I've been known to get tired of writing and just finish a chapter to have it done right now, but I always keep in mind I'll add and change things as the drafts continue.

The biggest word count I did write was for my first novel and it was 98,000. Right now, it's hovering around 80,000. I like slashing and burning chapters too. *laughs*

Cherie Reich said...

Oh, and hair color, I'm a dark brown, but my hair is normally more ashy in color when I don't color it dark brown. :)

mshatch said...

I'm currently cutting/revising a manuscript that was 164K. I know bloated. As of today I've got it down to 133K. And I don't think I could write 50K in a month - unless I didn't have another job. Then maybe I could :)

Shakespeare said...

I'm also a playwright, so I tend to flesh out dialogue from the first. Description... not so much.

Draft two usually doubles the manuscript's length, and then I pare down about 1/4 of that. Hone, hone, hone.

Angela Brown said...

Oddly, it is the Inner Critic that broke out from the place I stowed her that's causing me a few NaNoWriMo word count issues. She wants to be overindulged with minimalism and it's killing me.

By the way, I'm a natural dark brown :-)

Jessica Bell said...

I can NOT do NaNo because I think too much when I write. It's impossible for met to do it that fast.

Naturaly haircolour? LOL Yours is swamp brown too???? Hahahhaaa. Oh boy do I feel your pain ...

Sarah Pearson said...

I'm a definite underwriter. I never describe anything at all first go round :-)

Talli Roland said...

Hey, my hair is swamp brown, too, with a bit o' red naturally. Not good!

I tend to underwrite. But I'm also a big rewriter. The end result usually bears no resemblance to the beginning!

LTM said...

I think for Nano, it's good to just let your hair down *wink* and do what you do. You can always go back and revise/reduce!

I'm a total underwriter. I should go into the insurance biz. But I blame my journalism background. There is no time for windbags in journalism. Got to get to the point.

Oh, and ash (rat) blonde's me. It's really just gray. Seriously. Brown-gray. And to think as a child I was a cotton-top. :D ((hugs))

Nancy Thompson said...

Well, I'm a plotter who writes sparingly at first. Then I go back and layer it over and over again. My natural hair color is dark brown, but I custom color it myself into a deep, dark red that looks good with my Irish skin. As for writing 50K words in a month? No problem, but I couldn't do it for NaNo. Only myself.

Gail Shepherd said...

I'm in the underwriting camp too. First draft is skinny, second puts on weight.

Karen Peterson said...

I'm mostly a pantser, though I do a little bit of outlining just so that I have a basic idea of where I'm headed, even if I don't know exactly what directions to take to get there.

carrieannebrownian said...

Hey, 180K is a drop in the bucket for me, since my three completed non-YA sagas are 348K, 406K (the sequel to the 348K), and probably around 395K! I feel very comfortable writing at the saga length, since that's what I grew up reading, and could never write an adult-intended book that only spanned 300 pages. I deliberately planned and plotted all those books to be very long, with large story arcs and lots of characters and subplots. I never got the memo till earlier this year that sagas of at least 800 pages aren't considered very marketable anymore.

I recognize overwriting in some of the earlier drafts of my YA books, even if they're under 100,000 words. (I honestly didn't know till earlier this year that writers nowadays are supposed to count words. I always just kept track of pages instead of trying to cram a story into a certain amount of words.) The four books in my introductory series with my Atlantic City characters are the opposite end of the spectrum, deliberately very short. The first three are novella-length, and the fourth is novelette-length.

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