I have the wonderful winter opportunity to visit the greater Palm Springs, California area with someone that has to spend all his time attending lectures, classes, and huge group events. One of the luckiest parts of this is that I don’t have to go to any of it. In fact, I can’t go to most of it and would not understand most of what was being presented since I’m not a dentist. However, I get to stay at the resort, meet a few key people, eat some perfectly delicious meals, do a lot of walking, hanging by the pool, and of course, writing.
I’m spending this week working on the outline, characterization, and settings for a potential new series.
I’ve never written like this before…using this sort of process, I mean, but for Christmas I received DRAFT NO. 4, ON THE WRITING PROCESS, by John McPhee. I’ve always been a somewhat frustrated seat-of-the-pantser and have thought many times about putting more organization into the beginning of my writing. By the time a writer, any writer, gets to the end of a book, let alone a series, there will be organization, believe me. I can’t keep dates, locations, characters, hair colors, phone preferences, etc. in my mind over a span of three books and eighty years (in story time). However, I have tended to document as I went along, simply to stay in control, rather than to plot a course.
Writer John McPhee postulates (in my severely summarized view) that once the idea, research, and organization are in order, the rest is simply writing the words to the story. He has an extremely defined and distinct way of doing this up-front bit of work, but does not promote the idea that mastering the tools (notebooks, index cards, OneNote, Excel, Schrivner, etc) is the basis for being a successful, or even good, author. He simply puts forth a process that he has used to accomplish many books and other writing projects.
So, as I’ve drunk my coffees, walked the hot roadways, lounged by the pool, and sat in the hotel room, I’ve let my mind wander to the seeds and roots of the story series I’m thinking about telling. I haven’t written a single word of story line, but I’ve written hundreds about individuals, family, friends, locations, interests, and pitfalls of those that will surely end up in these upcoming stories. And this has made me smile.