My new book, Bruno’s Choice, has hit its first target. I passed the 10,000 word marker this morning. I can’t remember what the 10,000th word was, but it doesn’t matter. It probably will not retain that status for long. I overhaul my work constantly, so it changes all the time. It was probably something totally inconsequential, like and, but or however.
Some authors take what I call an organised approach to their work. By this, I mean that they plan everything out in advance, even down to the last detail. Thus, the bulk of their effort goes into preparation. The actual writing is done quite quickly because the donkey work has already been done by the time the writer begins. He or she is simply transcribing it in its final form.
That is not me. I am what I call an organic writer, which means that I start with an idea and see where it takes me. As I sit down to begin, I have a working title (which may or may not be the one under which the book is published), I know the name of the protagonist and what sort of person he or she is. I have an idea of several other characters and a very basic outline of a plot. I usually also have some idea of how I want it to end – but experience has taught me that my original ending usually is ditched somewhere along the line because a better idea has occurred to me.
That isn’t much, I know, but it is how I work. A writer works in a way that he or she feels comfortable. I was never one for making detailed plans, stretching months into the future. The job I used to do required me to do that all the time and I admit freely that it did not come naturally to me – planning that was, I wasn’t a bad teacher. Now that I am retired from that job, I no longer have to abide by its strictures, so I work as I wish to work, and that means organically.
What that boils down to in effect is the the organised writer puts the bulk of their effort into preparation, while the organic writer puts most of it into revision. One plans it out in advance and then transcribes it; the other allows it to develop, but keeps a tight rein on it. Neither method is inherently superior to the other. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. It really depends on the sort of human being that you are.