Over at All The Worlds Our Page, Kristen is talking about how love scenes (or at the very least kissing scenes–depending on your genre) are a really great way to get to know your characters on the front end of a book. And she’s right–there is very little that’s more illustrutive about the personality of a person and their relationship ship with someone else than when they are exposed, emotionally, physically, and spiritually (yeah, I said it) during the act of love making. It even says a lot if it’s NOT lovemaking and is more a quick and dirty [insert that word I probably shouldn’t say on the internet]. All of it tells you something about your characters. The post is a good read, so take a minute and go check it out.
Back? Okay, great. So Kristen, as well as Jen Hendren, are both friends of mine from Mission:Accountability. And they are both self-proclaimed chunksters. As opposed to the eternal Pantser vs. Plotter debate, this is an issue of Linear vs. Writing in chunks in no particular order. Being a staunchly linear writer myself even during my pantsing days, the whole idea of writing an entire novel in chunks that are not in chronological order seems like utter lunacy. Totally does not compute. If a scene for later in the story occurs to me, I’ll usually take notes so I don’t forget it, and come back to it later when it’s “time”. But clearly this is a viable method of writing for some people. Having read full length works from both Kristen and Jen, it definitely works for them.
In any event, Kristen’s post this morning set off a little lightbulb about, maybe, why or how this chunkster thing works.
Let’s take a moment to talk about logic. There are, in general, two types of logic: inductive vs. deductive.
Inductive reasoning is what is sometimes referred to as “bottom up” logic. As you can see from the illustration over here, with inductive reasoning you begin with specific observations of facts, examples, and so forth, and as you think your way through the problem or whatever, you narrow those facts into the Main Points. From those main points you draw a conclusion. Think of it as narrowing focus. Going from specific observation to general theories
This is the method often used to develop scientific theories.
Deductive reasoning works the other way, going from the more general to the more specific. This is sometimes called the “top down” approach. From a science standpoint, you begin with a theory about something, which you then focus on more specific hypotheses that can be tested. Then that’s narrowed down even more when you collect observations or data that will allow us to either confirm or disprove our original theory.
So how does this apply to the Linear/Chunkster issue?
I think it’s a good analogy for how each of us approaches plotting. Linear plotters start at the beginning, where they have general knowledge of characters that gradually moves toward more specific and intimate detail as the story progresses. They often get to know characters in the same way the reader does–as the story unfolds. So it might be suggested that linear writers are Deductive Plotters.
Chunksters work the other way. The particular scenes that they hop around writing tend to be pivotal. They are the specifics, the details that really illustrate something about their characters. And they progress from these pivotal scenes toward a broader overall plot. So I’d say that they practice Inductive Plotting. That actually makes some sense to me–particularly for character driven plots (at which both Jen and Kristen excel).
So inquiring minds want to know. Are you a linear writer or a chunkster? Do you use inductive or deductive plotting?