B.C. Archives, Item PDP00289 – Captain George Vancouver’s ships HMS Discovery and Chatham leaving Falmouth, England, April 1, 1791; colour painting.

When I first tried my hand at writing, I knew nothing about the craft or the business. Blissfully ignorant, I just sat at my typewriter-yes, it was a long time ago-and started pounding out words.  A story unfolded.  I was thrilled.  Then I got stuck.  I put the ms away and lived life in the real world, but the story kept nagging at me.  I needed to get past the stuck point and finish it.  After a suggestion from a beta reader, I backed up a little, took another tack and got past my stuck point.  I finished the book.  I actually sold that book to a publisher.  It was all fun.

As I learned more about the business I became obsessed with writing faster and writing more. I ventured into the maze of social media. I beat myself up over my sloppy plotting and inefficient methods. I bought books, attended workshops and did my best to apply the wonderful advice I received to making my writing time more productive. I didn’t have fun.

Now, thanks to the wonderful Jennifer Crusie, I’ve found justification for my haphazard methods. This New York Times best selling author, doesn’t plot!  She noodles.  If the idea sticks, she goes on to write a “discovery” draft.  I love that word.  It sounds so much more respectable than pantsing. Ms Crusie starts to write, whatever bits and pieces of the story float into her mind.  Snatches of dialogue, setting, backstory, other characters—it’s all grist for the mill. In this phase I discover the back story for each character.  Their core values emerge.  Can I get a conflict at that level? Can I resolve it without diminishing either main character? Who else is in the story?  What is their role? What secrets lurk in the background?  How do they impact the characters and the story? So much to discover.

It sounds a lot like what I did before I learned I was doing it wrong.

It sounds like fun.

I’m off to discover now.

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