Friday, February 15, 2008

School Vacation

Winter vacation for my kids is upon us, which means that my writing time will be limited for the next week until they go back to school. Luckily for me, my kids are teenagers and they sleep late. This is good because it means that I can walk around the house plotting my scenes with my thoughts to myself without being interupted by kids who are bored and want to go to the mall or a friend's house or whatever. It's bad because when they're on vacation I usually want to sleep late myself. So I'll be using an alarm clock and hoping I don't hit the snooze button TOO much.

I worked at an elementary school for 3 years in the special education department for grades 1 and 2. It was one of those jobs that didn't pay well, but left me with a feeling that I was making a difference in someone's life. I worked as a paraprofessional, teaching reading and writing. I loved the stories these 6 and 7 year old children would come up with. For some kids, taking a story they could tell me with expression in their eyes and on their face and put it down on paper was like pulling out teeth. They needed organizational tools to help them bring their fabulous thoughts and ideas to fruition.

Unfortunately, this same type of thing happens when you're an adult writer. I learned a lot about the process of writing from these children and saw patterns with them that I recognized when I talked to other romance writers. It seemed writers could be put into 4 different categories. Plotters, Puzzlers, Pantsers and Linear writers. Most writers are at times a combination of two. Very few writers are strictly one type of writer.

In the early stages of learning, teachers use the same strategies and tools for all children. What I learned is that the frustration we feel using tools that are considered the standard are not so much that the tool itself is inadequate. It's that the approach toward using it doesn't fit your writing profile.

For me, if you tell me to start writing on page 1 and not jump ahead until I've finished a chapter and revised it, I'd get stuck. In fact, I HAVE gotten stuck writing that way. I'd love to be a linear writer and write a book the way you see actors do it in the movies. Kathleen Turner in Romanicing the Stone. Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. I'd love to get to that last page and type THE END and have it be the end. But I don't write that way. I'm a puzzler. My stories come to me in little pieces. Almost like a series of movie trailers. I need to write as I see the story. If that means writing the beginning, then jumping ahead to write a scene in the middle, I do it. Forward Motion. Then I backtrack and transition my scenes together.

This is what I'm doing now. I'm writing the puzzle of my 3rd story for Steeple Hill. I have the beginning written. Some pieces of the middle and a wonderful ending. I love writing the ending of the book before the rest of it is done. Unfortunately, because of school vacation, I won't be getting much of it written next week. Wish me luck.

Until next week, many blessings to you,
Lisa Mondello


Debby Giusti said...

Hi Lisa,
Have a fun vacation with your kids! Love the unique way you put a book together. Your finished product is always wonderful!

Lisa Mondello said...

Thanks! I will say that it took until 11:00 AM this morning to hear the first chorus of, "We're bored!" It's going to be a long week.


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PamelaTracy said...

I could no more jump around than I could willingly eat green peas. I have to write in order. I get ideas for later, but I jot them down on note paper which I keep by the computer. You rock :)

Lisa Mondello said...

I don't know if I rock or not, Pam. I just can't do it any other way. I WISH I could write more linear. But I am what I am and in the end the result is a finished book.