Of Writing and Swamps

My writing process is not pretty.  

 This current WIP is beginning the same way PORTRAITS  did.  In utter madness.   My stories begin with me diving into a mental swamp.  It’s dark and murky, but I know something is down there.  My first drafts are never really true drafts in the sense they aren’t a narrative at all.  Rather, they are pages and pages of discovery.  Random images, dialogue, scenes.  I write it all down as it comes, in all its nonsensical glory.

Seventy five pages in and I’m learning about my main character.   Her loves and fears.  Why she was placed in the asylum. . .

And then there’s the murder.  I’m combining my love of the Victorian era with my love of  Agatha Christie whodunnits.  I have my victim and the culprit.   The end scene is clear.

This swamp is fun to play in.

How is everyone else’s writing coming along?

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23 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ll see your swamp, and raise you a mudslide. 😉 Yikes, what a convoluted mess I’m still working with. I’m starting to see the benefits of outlining, or at least a list of the cast of characters.

  2. Hey DD!

    That’s why I love my swamp. If I sit down and try to outline, every brain cell goes dead. But as I free flow- things start emerging. My brain simply doesn’t like to work in any rational way.

    In a sense, my initial draft really is an outline. Only it’s an upside down, topsy-turvy kind of one.

  3. Hahaha! WOW. First drafts are scary swamps, aren’t they? Or minefields, but we don’t even know when we’ve triggered the explosion. Or quicksand.

    In other words, thanks for the upper! 😉 Just kidding. And now I musts get me back to my own stretch o quicksand….

  4. A fellow discovery writer! I’m working on something new right now, have a few ideas of where it might end up (just a few). Aside using it as the basis for my NaNo I don’t know what else it might become. Oh and I had a few interesting ideas pop in my head. Nothing concrete but ironically they are great query letter material!

  5. I’m hoping it improves next month. LOL

  6. Hi Sputnitsa,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I don’t think of my swamp as scary. More. . .intriguing and fun. I never know what I’ll find there, and I love the digging and bits of discovery along the way.

    Hope your own writing goes well. 🙂

  7. Hey Ralfast,

    Glad to hear the Muse is blessing you with all these ideas.

    NaNo? Is that time approaching soon?

  8. Hi Patricia,

    I hope it improves for you, too. Keep sitting down and typing away. The writing will improve as long as you keep working on it.

  9. Hello! I love your image of a swamp… even though I’m an outliner I still start out in a sort of morass and have to flounder around for a while until I find my characters’ voices, the right tone, the right sense of the setting, all kinds of things. Some days it’s daunting and some days it’s fun… and you’re right, the swamp is full of hidden treasures.

  10. I try for a garden (hence the outline), but generally end up in a jungle. A swamp sounds kind of fun.

  11. I like the swamp imagery also. I think swamps are pretty cool places. 🙂 As for my writing, it’s doing something or going somewhere. Not sure what or where, but I’m still writing. 🙂

  12. I’m in that writing limbo where I’ve finished one project, subbed it, and I’m wondering where to go next. So, my goal today is to write a detailed synopsis of my next project. I’m such an anal plotter.

    Good luck in the swamp. Beware of the R.O.U.Ses — they can sneak up on you from time to time. 😉

  13. Hi Elizabeth,

    Thanks for stopping by. Yes, it’s certainly fun and daunting, and every emotion in between. 🙂

    I’m not sure if I could be called a true outliner or pantser. My swamp draft isn’t an outline in the true sense, but it’s also not a draft of a novel. Rather it’s pages and pages of random thoughts that strike me about the characters, plot, etc.

    And no, it wouldn’t make a drop of sense to anyone else! 😉

  14. Hey Amy,

    I like that. Your method could be looked at as cultivating a garden. Pruning out the weeds and stuff.

  15. Hey Jenna,

    Considering how hard you work and the success you’ve had, I’m positive your “somewhere” will lead to a good place. Keep writing away.

  16. Hey C.,

    Good luck with the sub. It’s quite exciting having projects out.

    Hey, nothing wrong with being an anal plotter. Before, I wished my brain would work in a more orderly fashion like that. But now I figure my brain works the way it does, and it’s not going to change. So I decided to embrace my swamp method.

    Doesn’t matter what method a writer uses, along as it works for them. 🙂

  17. Ooh, are you starting a new novel? I love that stage – ideas bubbling and perking, characters appearing out of nowhere. Magic! Thanks for posting this – nearly everybody I know outlines, and I’d begun to question my own method of discovery. On my desk, at home, I have a quote which I can’t remember exactly, but this is close: Before great genius, there must be chaos. (I Ching). I read that, and thought – there is hope for me yet!

    A new novel for me truly builds itself. I sit down, shut off the logic channel, and ask my characters, “okay, what are you going to do now?” And somehow, it all makes a coherent whole, with things I could never have plotted out with my little monkey brain. The writing knows things I don’t. I just need to shut up and get out of the way.

    Again – thanks for posting this. I needed to hear it. How goes the submission process, by the way? Haven’t heard any news from you in awhile.

  18. Hey Uppington,

    I’m really glad the post helped you feel better about your own process. And believe me, if you ever saw my swamp draft, you would NEVER worry again. You would be dancing with glee. My swamp draft would make anyone feel better. Satisfaction guarenteed.

    The sub process is good. I did just get a rejection the other day on a partial, but it was a very positive, nice one. They complimented my writing and stuff. But it just wasn’t for them.

    I have other subs still out. So it’s pretty exciting.

    How are you doing?

  19. Tasha – positive comments is awesome, but I’m sorry it wasn’t ‘your agent’. Definitely the perfect match is out there somewhere. I’m fighting off an attack of the mind monkeys. Seems like everybody’s getting partial & full requests and/or agents, or having release dates, and I’m just slogging along. But it’s a mild attack and I’m fending them off and liking what’s happening with Penguin. And enjoying vacation. So it’s all good.

  20. Uppington,

    Thank you!

    Please stay positive regarding your own work, too. You never know when you will hear back from the agents. It can be really quiet and then *boom*, just when you least expect it.

    I am glad you are working on Penguin. Writing something else really is the best way to keep the mind monkeys away.

  21. Writing (anything) is the only way to keep the Mind Monkeys away.

  22. Hi gypsy,

    It’s been my theory that everyone “outlines” — even those whose creative process produces drafts no one would recognize as such. Though I favor traditional outlines for the non-fiction work I do, there have been many times I’ve had to break writer’s block or find an angle by writing seemingly random things on a topic, until I can see where I need to be going.

    Makes me wonder — can we still call something a “revision” if we didn’t have a real vision of it at the start? 🙂

  23. Hi Edward,

    You may have a point about the outlining. My swamp draft could be considered a brainstorming outline. And others might outline things in their head, even if they’re generally a pantser.

    Whatever you want to call it- outlining, brainstorming, musing- we tend to always be thinking about our stories. 🙂


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