March 21, 2010

Polaroid Manuscript



"Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop.  You can't--and, in fact you're not supposed to--know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing." --Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

With my manuscript, I feel as if I'm driving down a winding road completely lost (I'm directionally-impaired so this happens often).  Or as if I'm whacking my way through the jungle.  In the beginning I thought I was headed to a river on other side; but now I'm not sure.  I might even find a gorgeous waterfall along the way and stop there.  Being a planner, this is odd for me; but not knowing where I'll end up is feeling manically free.

Do you know where you're headed with your manuscript?

32 comments :

  1. I only write silly poems and seldom know where I am going or where I am when I get there.

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  2. "driving down a winding road completely lost." THis is how I feel most of the time too. And I'm surprised that we just keep on writing. This novel I have a vague idea of where I'm going. We'll see where it takes me.

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  3. Not yet! It's driving me crazy--even though I am a panster!

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  4. you capture it pefectly.
    I'm on the third draft of my first draft. really need to plug on and write an ending.

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  5. I know the final destination, but often take side trips along the way.

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  6. I plan everything out so I do generally know where I'm going. I take a lot of scenic detours :)

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  7. J Cosmo, well said!
    GWOI, we keep going because we're addicted. ;)
    Kristin, I've been told not knowing is half the fun. Not convinced that I agree completely. :)
    Tricia, Good for you!!
    Patti and Julie, I love plans (even though mine's broken into pieces right now) and I wholeheartedly agree with your analogies of side trips and scenic detours.

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  8. That's a great analogy! I usually know where I'm headed but I do get anxious to see the final picture and get encouraged more and more when I see little things develop thoughout the story.

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  9. I'd like to know where I'm going, but sometimes I don't have a clue. The results are either great of so terrible that I want to hit select all and delete.

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  10. I like to have a general idea of where I'm going, but not so much that the characters can't surprise me along the way, which they often do--and so after a while, the story begins to tell itself.

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  11. Oh, I wish. It would be so nice to know where I'm going!

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  12. Great quote! When I start out, I think I feel very much like you. :-)

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  13. I have no freaking clue. I've written 30 pages and have snatches of upcoming scenes, but I don't really know what it's going to be or where I'm going to end up. But it's okay. I'll get there. Eventually.

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  14. I actually knew the whole book in a moment so it was fairly easy to write. It did make turns I wasn't expecting but overall it was the same. Pray and have faith and it will come, it always does.

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  15. Jennifer, yeah kind of like the coming together at the end of a great movie.
    Susan, I have SO been there! lol
    Timoteo, if I understand correctly that's exactly what Anne Lamott says SHOULD happen.
    Natalie, I second that!
    Shannon, good to know I'm not alone. ;)
    Elana, as always you crack me up. I think I'm gonna start saying that everytime someone asks how my WIP is coming along..."I have no freaking clue"
    Brandi, in a moment? Geez! I'm jealous. But I know J.K. Rowling says similar things so the process really is different for everyone.

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  16. Yes. I have the opening and final scenes on notecards already. It's navigating the twists and turns of the middle, peaks and valleys of the action, that will take careful manuevering. And, perhaps, some back-tracking.

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  17. I'm a very big planner/organizer so it is difficult for me to just "wing it."

    Often times during my writing, I go back and re-do so many times that I have a completely new plot than what I began and I haven't even finished half the book.

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  18. I have my whole story outlined so I do know where I want to go, but sometimes my characters decide to take a detour.

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  19. A polaroid is the perfect metaphor. Only my MS is a string of them that need to be strung together with a pretty little ribbon.

    As I revise right now, I'm trying to put another layer on my MC. To go for the hard stuff: her motivation, her fears, how her past has affected her now.

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  20. My creative writing may start with a character, a scene, or an emotion. I focus on those details to see where they might lead.

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  21. I was half way through my attempt at a book and could not remember what I had been lying about so I had to stop and reorganize the whole mess.
    It is not as easy as I thought. I really admire those that can make a plan and follow it.
    Old Grizz

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  22. Great Lamott quote. I just finished re-reading Bird by Bird. There is so much to digest in that book, it's a good one to keep handy.

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  23. With writing - art, life, driving or even cooking, for that matter - I may have an idea of where I'm headed, but I never seem to know ahead of time, exactly how it will unfold or where I'll park, till I get there...
    Have a happy Easter/Passover/first-of-April weekend!

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  24. Great post and GREAT blog! I'm a control freak, so I'm severely handicapped writing without a good outline in front of me. That said, I still find enough surprises around every bend to make the drafting of the story interesting. :o)

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  25. manuscript? can we say no revisions since written in November? lol talk about procrastination! Loved the quotes...now I need to read the ending.

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  26. I always have some idea where I'm going, but I'm always willing to change. I found that when I outlined and planned too much I killed the energy in the story or character.

    I also found that following well-meaning suggestions from others could hurt my work.

    I do best when I tell the intellect to go away and let the Muse and the characters lead. I've come to believe they know better than anybody how things should go. And when I don't take their advice, I often end up regretting it.

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  27. Where did you go? I've missed your posts. I just wanted to stop by and say hello.

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  28. Where did you go? I just wanted to stop by and tell you i miss your posts.

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  29. Saw your Edward Scissorhands comment over at Shannon's and thought. I gotta follow this gal. So here I am. Nice to meet you! :)

    RE ms - well it depends on my mood. Even when I have a structured plan plotted out - I can still feel completely lost!

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  30. An ice cream cone and my patio, watching the traffic go by allows me time to really iron out my stories, on the opposite side of the freeway are trees that lead to what I think could be an alternate universe, in fact it's what I use for my stories and my journeys!

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  31. I know where I want to do, but there are gaps. I need to build bridges!

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