First things first. I am happy to report that I have finished this draft of Swimming North. Surreal it is, and always will be, but it has a coherent plot line and all of the arcs and character developments and all those other bits and pieces of structure are accounted for and occupying the appropriate positions. I think.

But did I plot it or pants it?

Now there is the million dollar question, to which I just discovered an unexpected answer.

My initial response would have been “No, I just sat down and wrote it.” Now this is true, but only partially. The real truth is, I just sat down and wrote the first draft. And then I looked at that, poked at it with a stick to see if there were signs of life, showed it to a couple of people and made some changes.

This resulted in yet another draft, which went through much the same process. This time I actually wrote an outline. Now to those of you who actually outline, this would not look like an outline at all. More like a brief grocery list of the preferred order of things, jotted down on a sticky note which I promptly lost.  I spent a lot of time mulling various options for tightening the story arc. I cut an entire segment, and even made a thoughtful decision about changing tense during certain scenes for a specific reason. Characters got developed. Every scene had to prove its right to live or face the firing squad.

Far from random, but equally far from some orderly, structured approach.

If I had to join one side or the other of the plotting debate, I’d still have to call myself a pantzer. But the point is this:  I do plot and structure and plan, but I tend to do this the way I navigate my job and my life: by thinking fast on my feet and reassessing as I go along.  The first draft – which is rough, short, and written very fast, is actually my outline. Which then gets fleshed out, tweaked and tightened.

I’ve been wondering, of late, how much my personality type influences my writing style. I’m a INFP, for those of you who are familiar with the Myers-Briggs temperament types. And my writing style is consistent with this. Decisions are often made on what “feels” right. I hate to make decision, or close out possibilities.

What about the rest of you? Is your writing style consistent with the way you live the rest of your life? And, if you happen to know your temperament type, (either Meyers-Briggs or Keirsey-Werner) that is a piece of info that I’d find particularly interesting. You can take the Keirsey-Werner sorter here. The site will then try to get you to buy a full report, but it will give you some information free.

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