Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned: The Man With The Plan Dept.

OK, everything's finally disentangled on this end. I don't know what kind of mess I engendered by asking for Python 3 support, but as long as it's working and working consistently, that's all I care about. On to other matters.

Even before NaNoWriMo loomed as ominously as it is now, I made a decision not to write anything, but rather to try and have as complete an outline of Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned as I can by the end of that month. Then next year will be divided between writing it and finding a buyer for my previous book, Welcome to the Fold.

I've written before about how over time I've gravitated that much more towards planning in advance rather than writing by the seat of my pants. Summerworld was almost entirely improvised as one big headlong leap — it was, after all, written for NaNoWriMo (2006) — and that approach fit the material. The Four-Day Weekend, by contrast, was rigorously plotted front to back and rewritten over the course of two years. Flight of the Vajra took around three years — longer if you take into account the many years it took for the idea itself to take shape — and I spent a fair amount of time plotting and re-plotting the book ahead of time.

In my mind, though, there's always going to be a sharp dichotomy between what plotting at the 30,000-foot level can do and what leaping into a scene and writing it can provide. The former gives you structure and direction; the latter gives you impetus and flavor. I didn't really know how Vajra was supposed to "feel" until I started actually writing it, and found the voice — Henré Sim's sly, sarcastic, closet-romantic voice — that helped the whole thing find its proper incarnation.

With AONO, there's a problem of similar magnitude. I don't yet know how the book is supposed to feel, and I suspect the only way to find out is to have a few false starts. First person or third person? Good question; Vajra was first person, because the character all but demanded to tell the story in his own voice and through his own eyes. AONO could in theory be the same way — Aki Rautavaara, the hothead-on-a-leash protagonist, has some superficial similarities to Henré — but some part of me doesn't want to write two books in the first person using a remotely similar voice. Welcome to the Fold was a mix of first person and "fake third person", where the narrator describes events they weren't immediately privy to but learned about intimately later on, and that fit both the story and the material.

My leaning right now for AONO is to use the kind of sly, all-knowing, all-seeing third person that Thomas Pynchon or Tom Robbins used in their works. What's tough is making that not grate on the nerves; there's nothing I hate more than an author trying too hard to be sly and ending up somewhere between twee and smarmy. It may be something I try out for a while — say, a chapter or two — and then jettison in favor of another approach.

Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned writing

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This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the categories Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, Genji Press: Projects, published on 2015/10/26 19:00.

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