By Leslie Lindsay
I am a pantser. Not in real life, mind you. In real life, I plan and ponder and process. But in in my writing life, I follow the pen. And now I have the big task of piece-ing my novel together. At first, it sounded fun. Here’s how I had imagined things working:
- Focus on one character at a time in my multple-POV novel (which straddles several time periods).
- Write the first draft–a decent first draft–of each chapter for each chacter (neverminding what order those chapters “came,” just as long as they did but still sticking with that one character). Done!
- Send chapter-by-chapter to my lovely critique partner for her
feedback lashingthoughful comments and then revise. Did that.
- Now I can honestly say I have a revised first draft. Does that make it draft 2? Well, if we’re not splitting hairs, then yes.
- Now I have all POVs done. But they are not in any kind of order. At all. Sure, in my mind, it’s brilliant and I have a good sense of where we’re going, what needs to happen next, so on and so forth. But…it’s hard!!! I have roughly seven (!!) POV characters–some male, some female, some living, and some well…dead. Some are present-day and others live in 1893. Is that not crazy?! What have I done?
- I followed the pen. That damn pen.
- My solution is to assign each POV character a sticky note/color. Easy? Not really. Okay, female protagonist gets the bright pink and the male antagonist gets the lovely blue. Yeah, gender roles…they are alive and well here. That leaves about seven available colors to me (at least going from my stock of 3M supplies). So…should the daughter of female protagonist become the dull pink, an off-shoot of her “brighter” momma? Nah…she can be purple. Oh, and the dead girl…well, she’s pure and innocent, so how about white? Then there’s the lady in yellow…okay, she gets goldenrod. And the old man…well, ahhh??!
- My next task was to go through the electronic files and start filling in those 4×4 squares of color with the chapter “title,” and general happenings. Not as simple as it seems. I’m finding dumb chapters that are partially written (?!), others that appear to be duplicates, and still others I just can’t find, but have memory of writing. Following me?
- I started posting the sticky notes on black foam core in order. As I do, I’m assembling them in an electronic document, too.
- While I am doing that, I’m keeping a running tally of what goes into that, a chapter-by-chapter Spreadsheet.
- But then I change my mind. Maybe I *shouldn’t* have two pink chapters side-by-side. “Wait, merge those chapters and make one big chapter!” says my brain. “No! That’s stupid. They take place in two different places…wait, then a scene break?!” Aghh!!
- This makes me want to run for the hills.
- Why did I want to write this stupid story anyway?
- Maybe I should just take a nap with my basset?
- Gotta get the kids from school in 40 minutes.
- Then it’s scouts, homework, soccer practice, and dinner.
- All the while, my characters are screaming at me.
- And my body is tired. Brain, too.
- I’ll just watch some TV and let it sink in.
- Maybe I should read…you know, see how this author lets her story unfold.
- I can’t keep my eyes open…
- Oh, now I’m *dreaming* in my manuscript. “What POV am I in?”
- “Pay attention, you dope–this could help you tomorrow when you go back to the board.”