This week’s update from the early riser…
Although I can’t say I’ve hit my 1,500-word goal each and every day this month, I’m proud to say that I’m still getting up at zero dark thirty, getting my butt into the seat, and writing. I haven’t missed a day so far, and I honestly believe that if I can get into the chair every day through December, I’ll have a complete first draft by the end of the year. It will be a certifiable hot mess, but with approximately 100,000 words (that’s my estimate right now), I’ll have plenty of material to massage.
Let me talk just for a second about what a huge transformation this has been for me as a writer. Not only have I gone from the 101 word story guy to the novel dude, but I’ve also learned how to improvise as I write. It’s not quite the same as the improv performing I’ve done over the years, but there is still that thrill of the unknown that is a completely new experience for me in the writing world. When I got into writing prose a few years ago, I started hearing about the two kinds of writers: Plotters and Pantsers. Plotters plot–everything is outlined before a single word is written. In my screenwriting days, I was a hardcore outliner. Every scene broken down into bullet points, the end of the story always known right from the start. The Pantsers are the folks who write from the seat of their pants. They just sit down and go where the story takes them. The mere thought of that always made my palms sweat. Too easy to paint myself in a corner or miss out on opportunities to set up things that later pay off in the story.
As I began to write Questionable Characters, my novel based on one of my screenplays, I knew I’d have to blow the story way up if I wanted a legitimate book and not a pamphlet. My script version is 106 pages, and if you’ve ever seen a movie script, you know that each page has very few words on it. Short story long, if I want my book to look like a book, I need a whole lot more words and scenes. That’s where the improv came in. Instead of outlining the book version, I’m just finding new places to take the story, interesting detours where I can go into all kinds of details that would never find their way into a screenplay. If I’m not a purebred Pantser now, then at the very least, I’m a hybrid: part plotter/part pantser, and you know what? It’s kinda cool. I may have a very different opinion when the draft is done and I go back and see what I have, but I guess that will be part of the adventure as well. All I can say is “Stay Tuned.” I know as much about this as you do.
Enough droning on about the novel. Let’s get into the Story of the Week. Thanks to regular contributor Susan Meyer for the prompt. Not sure where this one came from but it probably wasn’t the Harvard Law Review.
Who’s Your Daddy?
Linda and Soozie were like two peas in a pod—if one of the peas was from an alternate universe.
“It’s so great that we’re going through this artificial insemination journey simultaneously. Our kids will probably be best friends too,” Linda said.
“Since I research everything, I studied the sperm donors, analyzed physical characteristics…”
“Smart,” Soozie said.
“I obtained their baby pictures and reviewed personality tests.”
“That does make sense.”
“I’ve pre-selected someone with a Phd. from a prestigious university.”
“Cool! I’ll definitely steal that idea next time.”
“Yeah. This time I just checked the ‘surprise me’ box.”
Prompt: Sperm of the moment
That should do it for this week. Thanks for listening. Next week I’ll let you know if I got any love in the Monterey County Weekly’s 101-Word Story Contest.