Constructing the Other Half of the Policeman’s Beard?

I have discovered, via my perusal of various Nano groups, that I am what is known as a ‘pantser’, in other words, one who flies by the seat of their pants and does not plan much, if at all. I’m not sure I embrace being in the ‘Pantser Division’ (ho ho) but it’s good to know I’m not alone. As I’ve said before if I knew what was going to happen in each chapter I’d be so bored I wouldn’t want to write the damned thing.

I’ve also discovered the meaning of that bizarre phrase ‘Save the Cat Beats’ – at least I have a vague idea of what it means; that there is a sort of structure which your novel should follow in order to get the right measure of ups and downs. Insert crisis here. Here be dragons/ghosts/murderers. Your main character should make an entrance here. That sort of thing. But even though I have a vague idea of what Save the Cat Beats means, I still don’t get why it’s called that. Is there a cat that needs saving? Or is ‘cat’ short for category? Do ‘beats’ refer to… actually, what do beats refer to? It’s all too much effort and I’m sure I could find out but right now after all that effort, I need a lie down. In any case I utterly reject this phenomenon because it sounds horribly close to another, which is (or so we are constantly told) that soon all novels will be written by computer.

Still it might be a while: up to now the results have not been terribly coherent: ‘The Policeman’s Beard is Half-Constructed‘ was one early effort and an attempt to make a digital film (if you see what I mean) resulted in this. But even if some machine manages to pass for human my response is, ‘bring it on.’ Although some more formulaic novels might possibly one day be written by algorithms (I’m thinking Mills and Boon, perhaps, or the more predictable sort of genre writing) I believe there’s something so fundamentally unpredictable, so weird and outlandish and unexpected about human creativity, that digitised fiction can only sharpen the sense of what it means to be human.

Kirk out