That question. That one specific question that gets every and all author’s stomachs in a nasty twist.
It’s similar to the question asked of artists ‘how do you DO that?!’ and, because no artist wants to be thought of as a dick, you answer very very politely rather than turning around and screaming I DON’T KNOW, OKAY!? I. DON’T. FRAKKING. KNOW!
For myself? I really don’t know. I can’t sit and tell you specifically how I sit and create. I can tell you my process which concerns itself with thumbnails, initial sketch, rough draft, shading, and the final draft. The length of each step differs with the intricacies of the image, but the go about is the same every time. But as to how I can take what I see in my head and translate it onto the page.
I’m not being trite, either. I’ve got no clue. It’s like breathing. I know I do it. And I even have a pretty good idea as to how but I couldn’t tell you the specifics.
Same goes for writing. But this question is a little bit different. Still gut-wrenching and sweaty palm inducing, but different. I shall illustrate with pictures.
Why? Why must you ask me?! So, okay, I know you’re not really, but lets keep up the melodrama. WHY?! WHY MUST YOU ASK?! WAAAAAAAAAH!
Like the ‘how do you DO that?’ question, I always feel like a schmoe when I answer. Because I’m a little bit of both. Not unusual, but for whatever reason it makes me feel like I have my cake and I’m eating it too, so nyah.
It can be fun to ask authors the question. If you’re another author, because the answers tend to take sides in the way that Red v. Blue takes sides. If you write, you understand. Outside looking in, pens and pencils are gearing up for war with those of us in the middle securing our helmets, because Writing Gods help us.
I’m a pantser. Straight up, I pants my way through the first and probably second draft. There’s a story in my head and I need to get it out. Screw the niceties of writing, story must be gotten on paper, damn the rules! If I get stuck, I go back and re-write until I’m not stuck any more. No plan, just pants. When the draft ends, whether it be the straight through copy, or the re-write in the middle copy, I go back and edit.
This bit is where I start to put my pants back on one leg at a time. When the first draft is done, I have an idea of what the story is. I have the skeleton on the page and now it’s time to put the meat on.
This is the bit where the planner comes out. Where I have to put my big girl pants on and realize that the story won’t get anywhere quickly unless I have something to tell me where it’s supposed to go.
And even then, I have to have the barest of outlines. The ‘okay, this is probably gonna what really needs to happen in the story or else’ outline written down to gently nudge me in the right direction.
Because I have a problem with authority.
I have writer friends that have to do the planning first. They can’t start a book without it. The concept of pantsing confuses them and causes a retreat into the writing cave until the obviously mistaken world puts itself right again. They know the who, what, when, where, and why and how they’re going to get there. Point A to Zed all nicely plotted out and ready to be written.
Neat and tidy.
And, I get it, I do. Even I get there eventually. Two drafts later. But, until then….