When Craft Attacks -- Cheryl Renee Herbsman
A few months back I began scouring books on writing craft, finally having the urge to comprehend all the plot, structure, outline strategies that until now have given me the heebie jeebies. As a "pantser" or intuitive writer, I don't usually sketch out the story in advance. I just write and see where it takes me. But I'd seen a few blog posts that had piqued my interest and had begun to wonder if maybe I was missing something that might actually be useful (even if it did give me hives to think about it.) One of the first books I read said, "Hey, it's okay to be a "pantser", just consider your first draft to be an extended outline, then start looking at the structure. That made sense to me. I blogged about it here. I started reading book after book on craft, on plot, on structure. And with each one, I was like, "OMG! How did I not know this! I must restructure my work-in-progress ASAP!" And for the first time in my life (outside of school), I started drawing little graphy-things like this:
And, yes, it still stressed me out, but at the same time, I felt like I was learning so much! So I'd read the next book and it would recommend a totally different way of looking at plot and structure. And I'd say "OMG! How did I not know this! I must restructure my WIP immediately!" Throw another handful of papers on that pile, as I tweaked, redirected, changed plot points, etc. This week I started yet another book on craft, which I read voraciously, quickly, as if my life depended upon me learning everything it had to offer in one night. "Ack!" I cried. "How did I not know this..." Papers flew, my pen frantically drew new graphy-things, my mind raced, my family steered clear of the crazy woman flinging papers and chewing on pen tops (and yes, still talking to herself.)
And then something miraculous happened. I took a deep breath and said, "F*$% this." (insert cheers)
Yes, there is a lot to learn. And I'm glad to be learning it. And yes, structure is important. And I'm glad to have a better sense of it and my story is better because of it. But here's the bottom line: I know the story I want to tell and so I'm just going to set aside all those books and all those graphs and all those mountains of papers and just tell my d*@# story!