Friday, September 18, 2015

The Labyrinth

Sub. Plots. Planning . . . Well this'll be short.

Hello? Have we met? Cause if we had, you'd know that my fellow Word Whore, Jeffe, and I share a particular trait in common: We're both pantsers. Writing a story is a journey of discovery. Granted. I don't go haring off without a map. I carry a few tools in my writer's box that allow me to map the labyrinth of a novel from above - to get an idea of how I might get from the entrance to the exit without being devoured by the minotaur.

Map in hand, I stride into the twists and turns of a story all full of confidence that THIS time, I've got it nailed. I know exactly where I'm going!

Then someone starts rearranging the walls and moving the dead ends and I'm pretty sure I just heard a hoof on rock somewhere behind me.

Using the words 'planning' and 'subplot' in the same sentence would imply that I'd consciously decided to put a subplot into a story of mine. Which couldn't be further from the truth. IF there are subplots in my books, it's by pure accident, UNLESS a secondary story line moves the main story line. I'm thinking of the Enemy series. The main plotline is the action/adventure and romance. Underpinning that is a war that spans the entire series. The action of the war impacts the main plot lines of each of the books. I don't know that it qualifies as a subplot, however, because it very rarely mirrors the main plot.

Could I construct a book with a subplot that I consciously fit together like a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces fit into something greater than the sum of the parts? Possibly. But once I had constructed the blueprint for that story, I'd know too much and there'd be no point in writing it. Twisted, right? Frustrating, too, because I'd likely be a much faster writer if I could do that. But such is the curse of the pantser, wandering around in the maze of her story, waiting for the characters to come take her by the hand and lead her into the thickest, juiciest, most dangerous heart. It's a kind of magic. If I get too precise with planning, it is a stake through the chest of the story. And through me.

PS, As a follow up to our Staying Healthy While Writing posts, I offer up this tidbit: The FluidStance Level. This is an alternative for those of us who cannot have a treadmill desk due to space and/or cost constraints, but who value getting up out of our chairs to work.


  1. Exactly. If I know too much, I'll never write the story - you're SO right!

    1. Drives me nuts. Mainly because I imagine that plotters have an easier time writing books than I do. But then, I suspect *everyone* has an easier time. :D Not based on anything other than I don't wish my slowpoke angst on anyone else.