9 29 2021 On Writing
I just want to touch briefly on something I’ve had on my mind before it vanishes, as those things tend to do sometimes.
I’ve been reading, in a couple of places, about contrasts in writing styles. The gist of these essays were that there are two styles, likened to nails and headlights. You either nail down you plot ahead of time, or see only as far as a headlight as you go along. These styles are also called “pantsing” and “plotting.” It’s been my feeling, and I thing I’ve written it here before, that every writer is actually a combination of these two. No one plots every single detail before they start writing and never changes a thing. Also, no one starts writing having no idea at all what they’re going to write about. Like, what shall I touch upon today? Ice cream, romance, murders, windows, game shows? No, the story and the characters unfold for both kinds of writers, for every writer. That’s why this is called a creative process. The story is being created.
One of my sources is this article from the Suite T blog, an offshoot of Southern Writers Magazine:
But I have to add one more thing that helps me to say what I want to say in my fiction, as I headlight and nail along. That’s a quote by Georgia O’Keeffe that hangs on my office wall. I bought it in the O’Keeffe museum in New Mexico (which you should visit if you get a change). My photo doesn’t capture the fine print, which is: “Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.”
Image is mine