MondayBlogs: Making it up as I go along

Writing. 25% planned. 75% pure bullshitting. Ginny O.

I’m kind of hit or miss with twitter, just as I’m kind of hit or miss here. But sometimes I say things that I feel are a bit profound and might make a good graphic. This was one of them. And it might be the height of arrogance to make the graphic myself, but pbthh. If I don’t do it, who will?

This was one of them.

Writing. 25% planned. 75% pure bullshitting.

I mean, this could be said of life too!

If you’ve read any of my blog posts about my writing and writing style, you’ll know that I’m not a pantser. I like to have my outline, my serial list of scenes almost fully thought out and a schedule of the books ‘days.’ This puts me in my happy place when it comes to a book. I have a plan. My eagle/beaver personality meditatively chews their pencil and beams. (Slide ruler firmly in pocket with pocket protector and calculator.)

And then the koala/otter side has to get their say in. The koala/otter type of personality is just like it would seem being those two animals. It wants to have fun. Schedules are for sissies! I try to accommodate it by making sure the plot is fun and there is plenty of character silliness spread evenly around like jam on an English Muffin. But, it is not always appeased and brings me rocks to show me how much it likes me and wants to be friends. (Because that is what otters do!)

And these rocks tend to be story tidbits or odd bits of information or things like happy accidents that make the story that much more fun, rich and entertaining. All in all, while to a degree my world building is planned. Most of it is me going, “okay, I want it to be like this and I’ll fill in the details later when I need them.” And then having to make it up as I go along. Or something I see around me in real life or social media sparking my imagination and/or making me laugh and go “yes, yes, I need to use that in a book!” (This is how some characters end up with pets or tattoos or yeah.)

Case in point, Becca and I have been developing a game together. It’s a game about a girl and her magical horse and I’ve been delegated to writing about the holidays. (Because I love holidays!) I started with Christmas. And first, I did a bunch of research about Christmas and Yule and Saturnalia and being that we are trying to make this a non-religious game as possible, focused on Santa instead of the nativity. I have all this information, come up with all these interesting story ideas. And then I’m browsing my twitter feed and up pops a picture of a horse.

A horse? We don’t have this type of rare, almost endangered, carriage only horse in our game! (Which is shocking since we have been very thorough horse wise.) But this is the exact type of thing we want to talk about in our game, types of horses and what makes them special and how can I use this horse?! Well, for a sleigh ride of course. Horse.

Fortunately, I go to Becca to get permission because we are in this together. And she goes, “I like it!”

And I continue to write along and write along, developing more ideas for further holiday adventures as I do and come to a conclusion that maybe there isn’t just one Santa Claus, there are many Santa clauses and the story I’m writing now is going to tie into this fact later. Go to Becca, say, “I was thinking…” and she goes “That makes sense. We could put them here because reasons.” And I go “Yes, I was thinking same thing! Reward for the player!”

Totally unplanned. But oh so much fun.

(And let’s not get too deeply into the story idea I had about a version of Hanuman fell in love with the sea and the sky, not knowing anything too deep about Hanuman mind you, to do some cursory research and find out that he had a mermaid for a wife/mother of one of his children. Oops! Yay, bullshitting happy accidents!)

It’s okay to let your story run wild off it’s course and go into uncharted waters and bring up zany details and create and grow and become that hedge or a pretty collection of stones from your otter side. Because, if necessary, you can always trim it back. (Beavers have good teeth and access to hedge trimmers just for this purpose.)

It’s also okay to have the ratios reversed and have it mostly planned out in intricate detail. It’s all about what works for you as an author.

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