I’ve been digging through some of my favourite craft books recently to see if there’s a different way to begin my next project. Although nurture feels less daunting than begin.
The debate between plotting out your novel versus writing it by the seat of your pants is a personal one. But recently I heard a writer describe herself as a ‘reformed pantser’. (Find Jennifer Laughran’s brilliant podcast here : The 30,000 foot view, interview with Erin Dionne) which made me smile and also made me think. I wrote my first manuscript not only by the seat of my pants but in the dark, fully blindfolded whilst hanging upside down from that crumbly, precarious point at which the sidewalk actually ends. I had no idea what I was doing. I wrote the second one a few years later having attended lots of workshops, writers’ conferences, classes and read a number of invaluable books on technique and craft - but still by the seat of my pants.
As I start work on my third, I’m wondering if there’s a way to do both: to spend the time plotting and preparing whilst leaving plenty of space between the lines. It would be reassuringly PRACTICAL to have everything planned out before I begin, but then again there’s something MAGICAL about hanging upside down and stumbling upon the unexpected. We’ll see.
Some of my favourite books on craft and writing in general:
A Sense of Wonder by Katherine Patterson
Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann
How Fiction Works by James Woods
Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
On Writing by Stephen King
On Writing by Eudora Welty
Bird by Bird Annie Lamott
On my TBR list are:
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O’Connor, Outlining your Novel by K.M Wieland, The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass, The Magic Words by Cheryl B. Klein and This is The Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett.
Plus a few links to favourite conferences and workshops that have been instrumental along the way: