What if . . . ?

In the world of writing (and especially screenwriting), it’s called the “high concept” or the “elevator pitch,” the latter always introduced by the same hypothetical: “Suppose you were on an elevator, and the door opens, and in walks Steven Spielberg.  He pushes the button for an upper floor, and you’ve got that much time to interest him in your story. What would you say?”

Knowing me, I’d spend at least three-quarters of my time asking myself, “Is that really Steven Spielberg?”  The other one-quarter, I’d be thinking, “Good Lord, we’re all getting older, aren’t we?”

No matter, it all boils down to this: what, many writing coaches ask, is your “what if?”

For now, how about:

What if the brain were set up like the Starship U.S.S. Enterprise? How would that better help us understand what happens to people after a traumatic event, and especially after the traumatic events of combat?

There it is, my elevator pitch, such as it is.

You know, come to think of it:  what if the brain really were set up like the Starship Enterprise? What would it look like on the inside? Who would be manning it? Would Captain James T. Kirk still be in control? If not, who, then? And how would the ship respond to the next Romulan/traumatic vessel coming into view?

Those are the questions that I’m going to try to answer in this book.

On “Pantsers” vs. Plotters

In the writing world, a “pantser” is just that: someone who writes by the seat of his/her pants, typing whatever the Muse sings, wherever the Muse leads. I’ll leave you to figure out how “plotters” differ. Nature vs. nurture, briefs vs. boxers, pantsers vs. plotters:  the debates go on.

Confession: in the late 2000’s, I wrote a first draft of a novel. It was about 1/4 plotter and 3/4 pantser.

I can now admit it:  it was a flop.  Details are unimportant. Trust me, it was.

So I’ve been, over the past many months, trying a different ratio: 3/4 plotter, 1/4 pantser.  Together, let’s see what you think.

For now that we have my “what if,” let me begin to tell you about genre and theme. More next time.

8 responses

  1. Some folks disapprove of pantser writing. They seem to think it always involves writing aimlessly, but that’s not true. I belong to the class of pantsers who write all over the book, but not chronologically (for visual images of my creative writing thought process, see my post at http://wp.me/p30cCH-p1). We do know where we’re going, although we may not know exactly how we’re getting there (I wrote the end of my first novel long before I was sure how it started). We also tend to revise as we write, and it’s fun to watch the holes zip themselves closed. Here or there a zipper may catch a bit of lint or miss a tooth, but we’re looking for that when we edit and proofread, which, in the case of my novel, still took more than a year of additional polishing (I’m one of those “sticklers”). I believe that writing should be a pleasant occupation, and the spontaneity of being a pantser keeps it that way, for me.

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