Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Silencing the spoiler voice

We all have one. We have that little overexcited person inside our minds who is quick to tell the world about what we have seen or heard. Whether it is a movie or a sporting event, we want to tell someone about the harrowing details even if the other person has Tivo’ed the scene and wants to watch it at their own leisure.

I have a plot spoiler voice.

Deep within the murky depths of my subconsciousness sits a tiny woman in a tiny room holding a gigantic bullhorn. She watches and waits as my typing fingers get to a juicy part. Then she flicks on the bullhorn switch with a hiss of annoying static to draw my attention. She shouts, “Hey, Michelle! You want to know what is about to happen. I know! I know!”

*shudder* I don’t want to know.

I used to be a plotter. I used to outline my stories because I thought this would allow me to write faster if I knew what was happening at every point. Unfortunately, I found out I procrastinate IMMENSELY when I do this. My mind grows bored with knowing the obvious as it says, “Yanno, why can’t someone invent a machine that will make the words appear right on the screen without having to type anything in: from brain to page? That would be so great.”

And I respond to my mind, “Yeah, and it would also be great if I had a machine that could transform inanimate objects into hot buttered pretzels at my whim. But that’s not going to happen either.”

Anyway, the reality is that I type faster (and enjoy my writing more) when I don’t know what is going to happen. I write by the seat of my pants (even as I type this post), almost as if I am challenging my subconsciousness to surprise the rest of me. Surprise me, nether regions of the mind where I darest not tread! Spillage your innards so that I might gasp in virgin shock!


Ahem. So when the tiny woman in the tiny room grabs her bullhorn, I look away from the computer screen. I go, “Oh look, tiny woman. Is that a tiny man trudging his way through the snowy fields of the imagination department? He appears awfully lonely, and you must have a lot of time on your hands to annoy me with spoiler updates. Why don’t the two of you get the wild thang on in the back closet where all my guilty pleasures hide?”

And while I am saying this, my fingers keep typing to jot down those marvelous ideas that do make me gasp. When I turn back to the screen, my eyes reread the section 2 million times trying to figure out just how twisted my thoughts really are. Then I snicker and wince as the tiny woman returns completely flustered by the ruse and smacking the bullhorn into the empty conscience desk wondering where the slackers are who allowed me to lie to her.

Ah . . . I have fun with my mind when typing out the unknown.


  1. I write/type the same way as you -by the seat of my pants. Outlining does me no good but for me it is mainly cause my imagination goes stone cold dead on me. Dialogue totally escapes me as well. Hell, sometimes I think if I could think of a catchy title, maybe that would provide the needed inspiration for me to continue and write some really great prose but all to no avail. It's a hopeless case I guess.

  2. Every danged writing class I ever took in the way-back harped on outlines. They were required; one couldn't just... ya know... write! You HAD to have an outline. My dirty lil secret, which I suppose is shared by more than one writer, is I did my outlines after the assignment was done. Not a single one of my English teachers ever caught on, as far as I know. Or maybe they did but were too smart or considerate to let on.

  3. I love the idea of a "tiny woman with a gigantic bullhorn".;) So you never outline your stories, you just type as you go along and make the stories up - interesting. Still, I have to ask; has the tiny woman ever managed to get to you with her spoilers?;))

  4. Sometimes the small voice comes to me when I proof the copy. Mine is more of a doubter. Learning to live with it. Keep hammering away.

  5. Hi there! I just stopped by and I love your site. I too write by the seat of my pants, and sometimes I drive right off the road. But it's worth the the times I've found myself down a road I've never been. Right now I am in the middle of an extra creepy scary story. A type I have never written before. But always loved. Mostly I am silly and I think fun.

    Anon- is right the voice of doubt is the worst spoiler.

  6. I am the opposite. I love spoilers! I crave them. This is because I hate surprises. I don't even like to surprise myself if I can help it. I read the back of books - I know that's bad. If I can find out what is going to happen in a movie before I see it, I'll find out. Isn't that terrible? Oh yeah I am a walking spoiler.

  7. I like your writing, very powerful on your point of view. Go ahead darling visit my blogs and leave comments.(=

  8. best way, michelle... cuz that's how i do it, too ;) lol

    btw- nudder one help:

    writing the breakout novel, by donald maass [he's an agent AND writer]

    by far the best book i've seen on the subject of writing!

  9. “Yanno, why can’t someone invent a machine that will make the words appear right on the screen without having to type anything in: from brain to page? That would be so great.”

    I always think the same thing. Why can't the computer read my mind? My stories would make so much more sense. The way I think and the way I write are so different that when I finish a story sometimes I don't even recognize it.

  10. I'm so jealous that you can surprise yourself! My stories always come to me with a beginning and an ending and the middle is a mystery, but not the same kind of mystery you are talking about. It's one thing to be surprised how you get somewhere, but a totally different thing to be surprised about where you end up.

  11. Jeni: Hmm...you have a problem with dialogue. Maybe I can help.

    Buck: See, my teachers were the opposite. They never told me to outline. They said to write whatever comes to mind.

    Protege: Oh, yes. Once, the tiny woman made me know an entire story. I screwed it up royally. There was no excitement whatsoever in the words.

    Oren: That's when it happens. The doubter wondering if I left any major plot gaps I can't see. Her voice haunts me at night.

    Beverly: Hi! Thanks for stopping by! I think the ride down the road is the most exciting, wondering which twists and bends I should take while scraping the car against the guardrail.

    Ello: Wow! I would never want to know what's going to happen in a movie, let alone a story. I know that sometimes I set myself up for disappointment, but rather that then not sticking around to the end.

    Lindsey: Thank you for your kind words and thanks for stopping by!

    Laughingwolf: You took the howl right out of my mouth. ;P I've heard about Donald through Josephine and have visited his site. Nice to have your opinion on it.

    Young Miss Author: I'm a little split on this though. I might actually like the hot buttered pretzel machine more. ;)

    Angie: Thanks!

    Jennifer: As long as you have the story and get to the end (so many writers have problems just finishing the story), I think that matters so much more.


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