Okay, things have been a little busy lately. College, work, reforming the writing club. And along with all that, rewriting a story that's turning out to be something completely different from the original draft. However, I'm okay with this, I always like when my characters dance to a different tune than I expect them too. Which brings me to my current blog post.
Remember when I wrote there were two different types of writers? The one who does, and the other who talks? Within the realm of a writer who does, there are two types of writers in that. I once read an article about how some writers plot out everything before they write and others who simply go with the flow. A good example of the latter is Stephen King. Several times has he mentioned some of his stories were built from a single question. What if? Cujo was a story like this, Bag of Bones as well, The Running Man too (as Richard Bachman). There are others, but I can't remember them off the top of my head. But he said the stories built from the what if? turn out to be some of the best works he's done.
As I expose myself to more writers, I'm coming to see the two prominent styles coming through. I personally know a writer who has to have everything written out in detail before she begins. She has to know everything about her characters, has to know what the underlying message is, has to know what the ending will be. So by the time she sits down to write her new story, the only thing she is doing is filling in the blanks. I always referred to it as the "filler" of the story. Very rarely, she told me, does a story get away from what she originally intended. I found her style extremely interesting because it is the exact opposite of what I do.
But to put this in a broader scale, let's think of a genre. We'll go with fantasy, just cause it's cool. :)
A fantasy writer will sit down and plan out what he/she is going to write. Genres have a formula, a way stories are written so they can adhere to the genre. These writers tend to plot out much more so they know what is going to happen in their fantasy plot line. This makes me think of the Harry Potter series. The stories are fantastic, but anybody who's anybody can tell the stories are formulaic (with the exception of Deathly Hallows). Usually, characters of a genre writer will not stand out as much as a character writer.
Denis Lehane, Stephen King, and William Peter Blatty are three writers I enjoy a lot because their stories revolve around the characters. Blatty rarely describes how his characters look, the voice of his characters paint a picture for how they appear. King has said: "I come up with an idea. I develop characters for the story, put them in a situation and see how they come out of it." Lehane said in an interview, "When I come up with an idea, I usually know something in the beginning, something that would happen in the middle, a what could happen at the end." The exception for Lehane was Shutter Island. Character writers tend to not plot as much, because it's more about playing the characters, becoming them as they write and then reacting to a situation when it arrives.
There is plotting all around of course. I do it myself. I usually want to know who the characters are, the plot, and the general direction I'm going when I write. But how I get there is the fun of writing.
So dear reader, how do you write? Do you "wing it"? Or do you plot everything out?