There are two kinds of ways to write, at least this is what you’ll hear about the most. Plotting and flying by the seat of your pants. I’ve used both and have had success with both methods. Sometimes it’s a mix of these two. Plotting usually involves outlining, Big Chief tablets of scenes and plot points and character descriptions that all work together like the mainsprings and gears of a watch. The other way is a form of madness in which you just vomit the story onto the page, sorta like how Kerouac wrote “On the Road.” I’ve heard arguments for and against both.

So, with my current project, I decided to write in a different way. Normally I have been one to try to plot something, even try to foolscap the thing like Steven Pressfield says to do, and I always wind up with the story bound up. The beginning is so polished and worked over again and again like a smooth stone in a river, and the end is either rough or non-existant. I keep focusing on the details in the beginning and finding it difficult to warp the direction of the plot into the denoument given all the elements from the beginning.

It’s a lot like being a master of the Alphabet until you get to more obscure letters like Q. The rest, except for S and T is seldom used and occupies the end of the Alphabet because they are the leftover letters.

The problem with this recent project is how it is hard to envision it in a linear way. I want to tell everything simultaneously, not only as the past being a reflection of the present, but also a future which hasn’t happened yet. It has been hard to write without doing this. So, I have been using what I call the Inkblot method.

I just hammer out a scene or an entire chapter, regardless of what point in time it happens in the timeline of the story, and like inkblots on a page, my hope is that each of these scenes will just bleed out and expand into other scenes, creating a timeline on their own, and allowing me to connect the dots at some point with some kind of structure.

Just this week, I realized I was cannibalizing scenes.

No, I was wrong. I wasn’t cannibalizing. The inkblots were finally bleeding in together! The scenes and chapters were beginning to overlap! The inkblots were merging and a I continue, the structure of the story is building itself, regardless of foolscaps, outlines, any of it!

It is an exciting time in the growth of this story.

The funny thing about all of this is the only reason the alphabet has an order is because we give it one. Think about that for a minute.


One thought on “Inkblots

  1. Ah, the old pantsing vs plotting discussion.

    (Not a writer, but I figure, do whatever works for you. It’s only for the first draft right? So even when you’re done, regardless of approach, you’ll still need to tidy the manuscript up for submission & that’s when any plot issues whether introduced by pantsing or plotting can be fixed.)

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