Sifting through my mind is like wandering through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in search of a mere magical Skittle. Yes, the pursuit might be delightful at times, sometimes frightening and overwhelming, and definitely distracting. After all, with all that candy around you, how can you focus on finding just one Skittle, for crying out loud?
Well, the factory is my mind. The Skittle is my book, and when you touch this Skittle, similar to the commercials, this Skittle explodes into hundreds of the candies. So, I just have to find the magic Skittle, as small as it may be, hold it in my greedy little hands, and let it burst into hundreds of ideas… er… Skittles.
I have always been a fly by the seat of my pants kind of person—organized but spontaneous—especially with my writing. I type, but the book is writing itself. The hundreds of ideas and questions are whizzing around in my brain, the delicious flying Skittles that they are, and when I feel it necessary, I snatch at one to chew on. If I like it, into the book it goes. I do this repeatedly as I write.
Okay, are you totally confused? Try being my brain.
What I am getting at is that I’ve never been one for outlining, or even writing a lot of notes. Maybe I just have a highly organized ‘writing’ file inside my skull, so it’s easy to remember things. But for me, outlining is so uncommon that you’re more likely to see masked kittens parachuting from the Duff blimp. Why is this so unlikely? Because although cats have great reflexes, fit well into little harnesses, and usually love to jump from high places, Duff is a fictional beer from the TV show, The Simpsons, so unless someone has marketed a blimp with this brand, the whole scenario is unlikely.
Yet here I was last night, frantically writing down all of my notes, ideas. I mean, in the three months I’ve been thinking about them, I haven’t forgotten them. But suddenly I’ll come up with a Skittle nugget and I can’t let it slip through my fingers! I have to write it down.
I am referring to my fourth work, the sequel to Exposing Dallas. The first book leaves questions unanswered that I must address in the second book. But because I have questions to answer, themes to follow, and of course, the all-important plot to roll out, my mind is becoming a cesspool of Skittles.
I have one and a half sheets of ruled paper coated with the horrible scribbles of my thoughts. Yeah, writers don’t generally print neatly (at least not me, anyway). We have too much to say to focus on legibility. As long as we can read it, that’s all that matters. Anyway, I really have to create a diagram of all these notes. Thought A leads to thought B, which leads to thought C, but then thought A could also lead to thought D, and so forth.
At this point I am still bouncing around ideas. I have a good idea of who my antagonists will be, their motivations behind their actions (still working on this), the main themes in the book, the goals of the protagonists, and the setting. I am still working on the whys and hows. I know what I want to happen, but of course, they have to happen logically and realistically.
I have about 40 pages written so far, but I am at a point where Character A has to do this or that, Character B has to respond appropriately. Character C is not a big issue yet but I must decide where he will be when the shit hits the fan, so to speak.
So, I never thought I would outline, but it seems that in this case, it’s entirely necessary to make sure I answer all the questions the first book has rendered in my readers’ minds.
I’m so excited to see all the pieces come together, and hope that soon, the other pieces of the puzzle fall into place. It’s just a matter of finding the right Skittle in the hundreds that have exploded from the main magic Skittle. They are all red, but one tastes like victory. Gotta try ‘em all, I guess!
How do you plan your next piece of writing? Do you outline, do you plan each chapter, or do you fly by the seat of your pants and discover as you go, finding themes throughout as you reread and then use them later? I love to hear your comments! Don’t be shy!