At the start of a project, I want to find the voice. Who will tell this story? Of course I want a problem – something to go wrong – but my process does not involve a detailed outline. I have an idea of where I’m going, but I allow for surprises along the way. Not like Alexander, who set out to conquer the world and kept going until he got tired. I'm more Columbus-ish, aiming for the Orient and ending up in North America.
As the writing progresses, I become increasingly aware of the importance of pace. Am I drifting? For some writers, drifting means falling under the spell of the words. Wayson Choy talked about long purple passages he’d have to throw out. This is not my problem. My box of crayons doesn’t have purple in it. My kind of drifting involves getting distracted by an unnecessary plot twist (magic drink, hidden door, balloon ride) or a quirky character (wild-haired doctor, sexy balloonist). I don’t know if that’s ADHD or OCD or just laziness. I probably suffer from all three. Among other things.
Just passed on my latest chapter. It’s a bit long. Is it drifty? Maybe. My hero references family backstory and meets a quirky character. I may never get to the backstory (Gran dies, Mom goes to jail – you know, the usual family stuff). We’ll see if it lasts through the rewrite. But I do like the new character (human wallpaper, she overhears ALL KINDS of gossip), who has the potential to help the plot in a bunch of ways. The last line of the chapter has this character saying to Cody, “You’ll NEVER guess what I just heard about Autumn!”
Over to you, Melanie. What did she hear?