As a wind-up to the release of Closed Hearts, I'm re-posting a series of posts about the process of bringing Open Minds into the world.
The Story of Open Minds
Ch 3: I'm finished! Oh wait. Maybe not.
Ch 5: Why My Critique Partners Are Smarter Than Me
Ch 6: Facing Revisions When It Feels Like Being on the Rack
Ch 7: How to Know When to Query
Ch 8: A Writer’s Journey: Self-Publishing Open Minds (Part 1)
Ch 9: Owning theWriterly Path:Self-Publishing Open Minds (Part 2)
Epilogue: Finding Time to Write the Sequel
I’m finished! Oh wait. Maybe not.
My paranormal/SF novel Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy) started as a NaNo novel (National Novel Writing Month). Actually it started as a paragraph, then turned into a voice tutorial, but at the end of NaNo, I had 53,829 words and had typed the words THE END.
I was finished!
I had a great setting (a mind-reading world), a fantastic character (a girl who couldn’t read thoughts, but could mindjack into other people’s heads) and a conflict (keeping her ability hidden while trying to pass for a mindreader). Somewhere half-way through pantsing those 50+ thousand words, I had discovered my theme: intolerance. I was all set, right?
Sure I could pad those 53k words a bit and come up with a decent wordcount for my YA novel (80-90k). After all, it was just a first draft, and a hastily crafted NaNo one at that.
About three weeks later, one day in the shower, I realized I had only written about half the novel.
This was partly due to my tragic inability to write a decent ending the first time around. Every novel I’ve pantsed my way through has required multiple (like 7) drafts before I could get the ending right. Apparently I was so wide of the mark on Open Minds that I’d completely forgotten to write the second half of the novel.
I erased “THE END” and spent another month writing an additional 30k words.
This was actually the turning point that changed me from a pantser to the hyper-plotter that I am today. You would think that being an engineer-type-person, my Logic Brain would want to plot everything out and know exactly where my story was headed before I opened the Word document. But for me, writing was Creative Brain at the wheel, driving madly over the landscape, shouting, "Check this out! How cool is this?? We are WRITING!!"
Which is fabulous fun, but also lands us all in the ditch eventually, bruised and wondering who exactly put Creative Brain in charge.
Properly chastened, my Creative Brain allowed as how, perhaps, maybe, there might be something to this plotting thing, and possibly we could spend some time checking it out.
I know many writers who very successfully write novels via pantsing and many others who swear by their plotting techniques. In the end, what matters is that the story is compelling. I had a fantastic start to Open Minds, but I was nowhere near done. And I think it’s important for any writer to realize that THE END is really just the beginning.
To see more about how I plot now, check out my post on Emotional Structure.