Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Weekend Writer: Let's Get A Little More Definitive About Organic Writers

Remember what we were talking about the last time I did a Weekend Writer? Plotting vs. organic writing. I had been discussing plotting in earlier posts and decided it was time to talk about the fact that some people find plotting difficult and go about writing a different way.

Frequently I will read that we organic writers don't want to plot because we believe it will confine us in some way. Not this organic writer. I would love to have a plot in front of me that directed me what I should be doing, say, tomorrow morning when I sit down to write. I think my issue is much more the one I mentioned last time, Martha Alderson's contention that we organic writers see the big picture, stories as a whole and have trouble with details. Without details, it's hard to generate the material we need to get to that whole story big picture we can see or maybe even feel.

I've often wondered why organic writers are called organic writers. Is it because we sort of grow a story, as if it's some kind of living organism that we can't control, can only nurture? That's a little woowoo for my tastes. You sometimes see definitions of organic that involve interconnectedness or elements that are part of a whole. That's what I think is the issue for me and my kind.

Remember, "plot" is only one of the elements of fiction.  Opinions vary on how many elements there are, but whatever the number, organic writers have trouble isolating one of them, plot, from the others. For us, character is most definitely tied up with plot, and plot can be tied up with setting, and voice and theme can be tied up with everything. We can't separate one thing and work on it all by itself. We can certainly try, but we find ourselves reworking things over and over again because, for us, character interaction suddenly leads to something happening we hadn't plotted out and as we get more and more involved with a theme new ideas for how to present it may suddenly appear. All the different elements offer up material at some point or another, not just plot, and not in a very orderly manner.

We have to juggle the whole thing all the time whether we like doing it or not. But sometimes juggling is easier than others. And the next time we get together, I'll talk about that a bit.


Alex said...

Interesting post, especially so because I am an organic writer as well. I wrote a 345 page dissertation using a outline that took up half a page and there were bets that I would't finish it but I did. Now, I am trying my hand at a MG novel for the first time and everyone tells me Plot, Plot, Plot. Just can't do it, though.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on all this. I really enjoy reading your posts about writing.

Gail Gauthier said...

I read recently that organic writers "write long." Meaning we generate a lot of material because we haven't pre-plotted and then have to cut a lot of it out, finding the plot in all those pages. That is certainly the case with me.