Tag Archives: #TheExpandingSeas

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

  Well, it has been a while.Scan 13

And I’ve clearly been neglecting my blogging duties, so here is my New Year’s Eve promise for 2018 – 

I will do – at least – one new post per week.

And here are a few personal resolutions we can re-examine during the course of the year. I’m as anxious as you to see how they work out.

  • I will lose weight (it’s the law, you have to include this one).
  • I will see my first novel scheduled for publication, by December 31st, 2018.
  • I will wean myself off wasteful political commentary on Facebook. The effort is criminally stupid.
  • I will finish the first draft of my next novel (this will be tough).
  • I will complete one chapter each month of my text book (time to stop putting that off, although I may be over-reaching here).
  • I will go to my high school re-union in July (if only to see who I can still recognize).
  • I will not clobber any of the idiots I have to endure during the year (this is easy, I’m really more verbal).
  • And, finally, I will try not to burp with my mouth open (very tough, but this one’s for you, babe)! I do truly love my wife.
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Pantsing, Plotting, and Sussing

 

Pantsing, and Plotting, and Sussing …      Oh My!

I’ve read a number of literary discussions on the relative merits of “pantsing” versus “plotting” when it comes to developing one’s story line, and have always been left in a little quandary as to which I’ve done when writing my first novel, “The Expanding Seas”. I didn’t start out with a plot. I began only with a scenario that I found intriguing.

As I wrote, the typical form of most SciFi/adventure plots took shape. I placed my protagonists in the most impossible position. They would have to outwit their captors, overcome great odds, recognize and accept they had a greater responsibility, and ultimately take action to protect others. Obviously, this is a common trope in many genres.

But wait! Not so fast! Rather than plot out how I’d lead my characters and story toward resolution, I found myself approaching each new chapter in their journey from the standpoint of “why have these particular obstacles been placed in front of them”, “what would they need to do next”, and “how might this affect their goals”.

I had already set up a myriad of questions in my opening chapters. I felt I really needed to answer each to properly grasp the next logical action or event – before I could move on. Sussing these out, recognizing this natural progression, is what drove each successive chapter. Moreover, it’s what logically forced twisting the plot before the end.

Now, I won’t suggest that Sussing – as a concept – should be given an equal place next to Pantsing and Plotting. Perhaps it might be regarded a subset to plotting. But I do suspect it fits somewhere in between the two.

You start your story, establish the rules of your story world, then must follow those rules. If you are writing SciFi, or procedural (detective) novels, some of these rules may be strict, leading you down the same path to discovery as your characters. And the more confidant and professional you make your characters – both heroes and villains – the narrower that path will be. Their logic begins leading you down the path to a better understanding of the world you created, and maybe even of your own world.

My own sussing led me in an entirely new direction, and dramatically affected my novel’s theme.

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