Often defined as an Adventure with no actual route and end destination.
Sometimes pantsters write their novels like a road trip. We sit down to write with an ending in mind. We know where to start but sometimes take a few wrong plot twists that lead to dead ends. Then we have to backtrack and delete the mess of jumbled words which grabbed our thought processes and sent our characters careening down a steep hill where the only possible end result is death. (Unless of course you are writing about Time Travel then it’s a black hole that takes you back to the 1700s where you find your true love or get beheaded in a sword fight.)
I love a good road trip of words even if I get lost for a while. In the process of finding my way back to my theme and the path leading to my happy ending, I learn a lot about my characters and about myself. I learn I want an easy path in life with no thorns or drama—smooth sailing and Kum ba Ya around the campfire. But when I write that kind of story, my characters rebel. They tell me I am not being realistic. They lie down in the backseat of my SUV and nap as I head down another side road of boring, unimaginative dialog. Spitball fights erupt in the passenger seats between my protagonists and their faithful sidekicks when I candy-coat their lives. They vie for better lines and more interesting situations. They persuade me to stop driving and check out the sites. We visit the critique group with members not afraid to run red lines through bad dialog and grab my characters out of their boring scenes and suggest where to relocate them.
After reworking those problem areas, we continue our writing road trip only to find my GPS of grammar rules from high school English that lauded lots of adjectives and adverbs is making the road way too rough. My story journey now lags with flowery prose full of –ly words and weak verbs. I grab one of my writing books and fill my GPS with grammar rules fiction writers use to plot a perfect sentence. Strong action verbs; sharp, simple phrases; and descriptive words that don’t go on for paragraphs.
At the same ol’ waterhole rest stop I notice my hero has twitched his eyebrows four times on the same page while sharing coffee with my heroine who flips her hair behind her ear every time she answers his questions. Argh….Time to change up the menu. Let’s put them at a picnic table and engage in a game of Frisbee. Add lots of sweatiness and tripping in gopher holes. How about a wink, a giggle and a scowl. More entertaining—I think.
I’m exiting the car of my road trip of words for the day. Even while I do laundry and prepare dinner, my road trip memories replay in my mind. What if she had said…? What if he went too…? The beauty of a road trip of words: you can go back to those places where it didn’t feel quite right and relive it. Rewriting and revising until your characters give you a thumbs up.
Are you on a road trip with your latest writing project, or do you use a preplanned roadmap? Comment below.
Hey, don’t forget to sign up for this blog in the right column if you want to keep following me. Please and Thank you!