Friday, December 4, 2009

Fat and skinny writing

I write fat.

I'm not talking about my plus-size heroine, Veronica May, in ALL ABOUT VEE. I'm referring to my style of writing. My first drafts are huge, monstrous things, with all sorts of conversations between characters I never imagined, scenes that don't belong, and long paths taken where a short one should exist.

Most people who write "fat" are not working from outlines. They are usually working from a basic idea and trying to find the story and flesh out the characters in the process. Then they go back and cull the story from the chaff. Beautiful moments can be discovered this way, when you allow yourself to go places you hadn't intended.

Outlines, otoh, especially editor-approved detailed outlines, should keep you on track - and skinny. And by skinny I mean efficient, lean, with very little excess baggage. Outline writing is usually quite tight and serves you well when you're on deadline.

But not me. I do both. I have a detailed outline and then I write and write and write, discovering backstories and relationships and themes as I go. First drafts end up at least an extra 15% of where they need to be which is fine because I am also a ruthless rewriter. I have no trouble cutting when necessary. I very rarely fall in love with my babies.

I would love to write skinny but I don't know how to do that.

How about you? Are you an ectomorphic writer or an endomorphic writer?