Writing is a Funny Business for Blogophilia 52.4


Saturday morning while I went about my ablutions,  Gene popped into my head. Gene is one of my six characters in my untitled WIP. The stories start in the 50s. Six teens, seemingly very different, meet weekly and keep in touch with each other their entire lives. They must have something in common.

I know all my characters fall in love, marry, divorce etc etc. You know, have a life. My problem was how to accomplish this. Remember, the story starts in the late 50s, early 60s when life, especially for young people, was very different than it is today. My dilemma— how to construct their lives.

For one of my characters, Charles, as it turned out, though I had hoped it would be Gene, I asked a friend how he met his wife. He willingly wrote me the details, with dates yet. This happened 30 years ago and he still remembers the dates. He met her (they have since divorced but are still good friends) through another friend of his at a community dance. She was with another guy. However her date was drunk and my friend, Fred, wanted to dance and so did she. Fred kept plying her date with drinks, and he and this woman, Pat, danced the night away. It was Pat’s sparkle and laugh that reeled Fred in.

I thought about Fred’s story and decided it wouldn’t work for Gene. However, I could make it work for Charles. The idea I had for Charles was for him to meet a white woman, he is black— or Negro as it was called in those days. At first I envisioned a situation where they meet somehow but not in person and don’t know what the other looks like. Couldn’t figure out a way to do that.  Limited imagination. Instead, I placed the scene at a club in the Negro section of town. Mississippi John Hurt is the head-liner and Charles is surprised to see white people in attendance. He meets her—Simone—sleek Simone I call her because she is tall, slender, with a helmet of smooth blonde hair. They have to share tables in the club and Charles and his buddy, Floyd, end up sharing a table with Simone and her brother, Claude, and so it goes. Simone and Charles learn they have a lot in common. In a friendly manner Charles attempts to ferret out as much information from Simone as he can.  But I got the idea from Fred’s story. Funny how it works out.

Back to Gene. At breakfast the local paper featured an article about “frommance”.  Platonic relationships between a man and a woman who are the best of friends. “Aha” says I.

How about this? Gene lives with his dad but they  don’t get along. Let’s say they have one of their usual fights and Gene stomps out to the front stoop of the apartment building to cool off. He can’t go too far as he has to start his shift as a hospital orderly soon and still needs to do some stuff at home to get ready. As he is walking downstairs he hears another door slam and shortly a woman about his own age bursts out the front door, plunks herself down on the same step Gene is sitting on and with a huff and a puff starts to mumble to herself. Then she notices she’s not alone. He looks at her. “Fight with your mother?” He recognizes her as the daughter of another tenant on his floor and has heard their loud voices many times.

She, too, recognizes him “Fight with your dad again?”

“Yep.”

 They talk and realize they have many mutual interests besides their home life.  They both work with people, clients in her case, patients in his,  who have problems — he with sick people in hospital, she as a receptionist with a law firm dealing with people in trouble with the law, and  needing help. Not the easiest people to get along with. The couple begins to see each other as often as his schedule permits. They go to movies, dances perhaps, walks in the park. .Both want to leave home and decide to get married. I do know what happens after that but it’s not  pertinent to  this discussion. I only wanted to figure out a crucial moment in their lives in order to lead up to it and carry on the plot line after that moment.

Stories are like pieces of a  jigsaw puzzle (oddly I hate actual jigsaw puzzles) and I eventually will weave them together to create a, hopefully, coherent story.

One of the things I love about writing is: I never know what’s going to happen with my characters. Stories rarely end up the way I originally envision them.

Sometimes I feel like the white rabbit in Alice – constantly checking the time and with the uncomfortable feeling that I’m always late. It’s a pressure I put on myself, one of self-imposed deadlines.  I wonder if Mr.  Carroll put the character in because he always felt that time was running out?

I write starting with ideas or characters. Everyone has their own method e.g. plotters who detail everything before they start to write, or pansters, who write by the seat of their pants.  I stick in dialogue later. Some write in dialogue and fit in plot and ideas later; whatever works.

 So, what are you? Plotter or Panster?

 

 

The Beastie boys recorded No sleep Til Brooklyn…….. not quite no stop til Brooklyn but since they are from Brooklyn…

 

 

Written for:

Blogophilia 52.4 Topic: “Friendly Ferets”

 Bonus Points:

(Hard, 2pts): Use the line ‘no stop till Brooklyn”

(Easy, 1pt): include a rabbit

 

 

 

 

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24 Responses to Writing is a Funny Business for Blogophilia 52.4

  1. trev says:

    I’m a Panster for sure… details bore me until I have the plot all laid out… I love the way you have you characters all set out in your head… I am trying to do that myself Sue… with limited success.. I guess I need a more controlled imagination…. I was wondering how you get a Charles to meet a white girl back in the 50’s… not an easy thing to make happen … they we’er indeed dark times … you hit on a very good way to get them together… one of very few moments when a chance meeting could take place…
    great blog.. love your thought process Sue.. and the music is brilliant… (that word)..lol.. Irene will love the first video… lol…
    loved it Sue…. really loved it… xxx

  2. Chuck says:

    I have bits of both plotster and panster in me. But more than either I write characters or play with characters. The more real they are the less I have to do – they seem to do things and go places on their own.

  3. I’m probably a bit more of a plotter, which is probably why I write very few stories. I get too stressed about character development & a plot which makes sense. The exception is when I participated in NaNoWriMo back in 2009. That challenge is where you write a crapulent novel of 50K words within a month. So I threw out all my “rules” and actually did it. And you know it wasn’t half bad. But it exhausted me & I never tried again!!!! Some day I would like to, but life’s been crazy. Good luck with your book!

  4. Dave says:

    I be a pantser an I never know where my stories are headed. I really liked this as it gives me an idea of where your stories come from. Awesome analytical analysis! 🙂

  5. Marvin Martian says:

    Let’s see…I fly my space ship by the seat of my pants, I run Blogophilia by the seat of my pants, SO, I would have to say that I am a pantser! I also have to say this: 8 points Earthling! 🙂

  6. I’m definitely a panster, by heart…..but, sometimes I start with a character, other times it’s just the seed of an idea on a story line. I’m not huge on plotting until I really get into it, and 9 times out of 10 the plot just ‘happens’ lol….I never really know where it’s going to go when I start 🙂

    xx

  7. Lindsay says:

    The thing I like about being a panster is from day to day I don’t know where the story will go. It’s sort of like solving a mystery, you never know until the end the who, what, where, when, how or why things happen

  8. Ultimately, I am a plotter. I usually start with a concept and try to figure out where it will go before I start writing. I’m not so much of one that I use formal outlines. But I usually have three or four pages of questions and plot devices with modified flow chart symbols connecting them.

  9. delightful read Sassy enjoyed how you wove the prompts into it. Waving hi to the gang

  10. Feathered Pen says:

    Oh,Sue!Thanks for this post! This made me feel that I am not alone going through the same process. I am absolutely sure I am a panster because I have no problem writing down dialogues whereas, breathing between those dialogues is really a huge task for me. I just can’t narrate easily.Mostly, I know already what the dialogues would be and who would say them and what would be the plot are the finishing touches.Strange,eh? lol!But I think the plotters are the ones who can create a really brilliant story because normally, I would encounter stories that when we reach the end,we know that it wouldn’t have been possible to have ended it that way if not carefully plotted first. Sorry, can’t offer anything substantial because writing wasn’t really my thing and absolutely had no formal writing experience. Blogophilia though pushed my imagination and wrote in a way I wouldn’t imagine writing before.

    I loved the slamming of the door scene . It plays in my head really well! There probably should be some slight encounters between them in the neighborhood prior to that and had been wanting to talk to each other and so when that time came on the staircase, connection was already half-done. Good luck Sue !Enjoyed this a lot!

  11. Liam says:

    one sentance plot “king’s daughter in danger prince charming to the rescue” after that nothing. then i start at the first sentance developing my characters, scene, dialog onthe way. and if i cant think of anything that sounds good i do random writing with that thought in mind after about 10mins or so i eventually end up with a few paragraphs i keep and they get me rolling. soooo i think i can say i am definetly not a plotter.

  12. joaniethewriter says:

    I believe I am a bit of both a plotter and a panster…. one week i might just sit down and start typing, and another week I try to figure out the sequence of events I want to write about. Once ai get the idea, it could turn out exactly how i want it or one sentence writes itself and I am off in a different direction! Some weeks…. nothing! lol

  13. don’t you love trying to map all of this stuff out? I had to spend 12$ to buy an article on Japanes in Jakarta in the 1800’s in an effort to suss Verchiel out…

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