More _Fire and Hemlock_ (was: Re: Lion and Unicorn)

jessie shelton at phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Sat Sep 25 22:59:16 EDT 1999

On Fri, 24 Sep 1999, McMullin, Elise wrote:

> 	It makes me wonder.  DWJ books are so wonderfully plotted, but I
> recall reading that she never tells the story where to go or knows ahead of
> time. I can only imagine she must have been talking about first drafts.
> Then afterward, she must have a look at the story and plot around where the
> story seems to want to go.  Do you think that's how it works?  If any of the
> writers out there would like to address the question of drafts and plotting
> and which things when, I'm all ears.

Well, the thing about process issues like this is that it is never the
same from one person to the other.  When I write, I have to know how the
story's going to go; if I don't have some intimation as to the shape, the
vector of the story, any scenes I manage to churn out end up somehow
lifeless, lacking a sense of momentum or direction.  I need to know about
where the story's going to end up before I do any writing; I know (or have
some idea about) every plot element.

Of course as I go things get successively refined, the edges firmed up,
little details and touches added; but the core of the story is the first
thing to come into my head, and once I get it right (which I have to do
before I can start writing) it never changes.  I can't imagine a process
any more different than DWJ's!

It does flabbergast me that DWJ can work that way and can produce twisty
little jigsaws like Archer's Goon or HMC.  I wonder if maybe once she
reaches a certain point, she firms things out in her head and does some
advance plotting?  Or perhaps, like you say, that only refers to the first

(I guess you wanted to know about drafts as well as plotting.  This,
again, varies incredibly by individual.  I tend toward a 'rolling
rewrite' which is where you edit as you go (and consequently work
more slowly), but after I've got a sizeable chunk of prose I set it aside,
because coming back to it after a period of time away helps me see it more
clearly.  Then I go over everything again once I finish something, so I
can make the large scale connections come out -- and then I'll go over it
again and again randomly, when I feel like it, making twiddling changes,
because I'm a perfectionist (:  )


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