Whooptedoo and huzzar! Filled the final hole in my current WIP, tentatively titled Quiz Team, today, bringing the first draft word count to 103,577.
So what did I learn this time around compared to my first finished novel, The Honey Trap?
The Honey Trap was my first long work of fiction, after many abortive attempts to write a full-length novel over the years (usually caving in after about 3000 words). In order to avoid hitting that same old wall again, I sat down and wrote out a full plot using a loose version of the snowflake method, carefully divided into chapters. Then I sat down to write my story linearly from chapter one.
Of course, as I wrote and got to know my characters, the plot took me in directions I hadn’t foreseen. That was fine: the very fact I had a plot at all gave me a feeling of security, a safety net. A lot of the early scenes, particularly dialogue, were then rewritten with what I’d come to know about my characters in mind.
Quiz Team, on the other hand, was pure pantsing from start to finish. To begin with I had a strong idea of characters, could hear them speaking, but only the flimsiest idea of plot. So I wrote snatches of dialogue here, there and everywhere from all over their timelines, developed the characters and created plots and sub-plots for them as I went. Then I went back and filled in the holes.
It felt like the dialogue was very authentic, and I was quite proud of some segments, but the plot and transition scenes were meandering and the overall effect was patchwork. I don’t know, that might be first draft exhaustion talking: I suspect I had a similar feeling about The Honey Trap when I’d finished it, but when I read it back it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. Dreading the edit on Quiz Team, however, especially the sagging middle, and praying it isn’t an unsalvageable mess…
So, not sure still whether I’m a planner or a pantser by nature and which method I prefer. Something in the middle I think!