Thursday, April 7, 2011

Your novel has been detained for questioning

Every trip has its little adventures, and Darcy Hunt was no exception. My feet had barely touched English soil when the drama began. I approached the Customs agent, somewhat tired and bedraggled. After a series of questions, she handed me a piece of paper that said I was being detained for further questioning.

Why? Because I couldn't tell her the address or phone number of the friend I was to stay with in London. Never mind that I had the address and walking directions of the place I stayed that night; the fact that I didn't know the details on my London friend concerned her enough to detain me.

(In the interest of my future plans for England, I'm leaving out my editorial remarks here. You may exclaim and wonder all you wish in the comments however.)

Those of you who know me know it's unusual for me to be unprepared for that kind of question. I'm a plan ahead kind of gal, but for this trip I wanted to be a little more easy going. I knew where I was going to meet Helen and how to get there; that was good enough for me.

The plan ahead part of my personality is why I'm a planner, not a pantser. When I get a story in mind, I sit down and work out all the details before I start writing. The very first thing I get a handle on are my characters... things like their address and phone number, for instance.

Every time I've attempted to write a novel without an outline, questions have detained me somewhere in the first or second chapter. Who are these people? Why are they acting like this? I lose time and momentum when I have to stammer out the vague clues I have.

What about you, friends? Has your novel been detained in Customs?