Old-fashioned seat of your pants, make-it-up-as-you-go along storytelling has driven comic book narrative for years and has reached giddy heights in stuff like "The Drifting Classroom" and "The Walking Dead," just to name two things I've read recently. But I tend to prefer more structured work. I like when things fit together and narrative strands from months or years earlier turn out to be essential to the overall structure.
Plotting is a mechanical structure: One comic book writer friend of mine creates elaborate charts of story direction, individual character arcs, introduction of subplots, how long they played out, secondary and tertiary subplots and how they evolved to become major subplots and then the main plots. He can wipe the floor with me on the down and dirty connect-the-Legos-level of sheer mechanical plotting. My plotting in comics — even ones I wrote over long stretches — was always ad hoc, based on some broad outline that I sort of knew where it was headed — unless I changed my mind and went somewhere else because my free-form plotting allowed me the room to do that. With his plotting, you start pulling on one thread and the whole sweater unraveled.
On sheer writing ability alone, I kick his ass. I’m not bound by the specs of the plot-machine he builds for himself. He has said he envies my ability to write that way, more from the gut and less from the head. The gut is where the passion and the juice come from. The head is where rational thought lies. You want about 25% of the latter and 75% of the former in your work. Know where you’re going, understand the mode of transportation you’ve chosen to take you there, but don’t be bound by some route you’ve laid out on the map before you even left the garage. Take detours, visit interesting roadside attractions, cut across land marked with “No Trespassing” signs, leave the blacktop and explore some dirt roads, and stop every now and then for a couple or four slices of pie at that diner you pass along the way.
Just do it, but whatever else…don’t think!
And, honestly, I've never read anything by Paul Kupperberg that I thought was all that impressive, even though he's been working in the industry for decades. So when he says, "On sheer writing ability alone, I kick his ass," what is he talking about? What are the great Paul Kupperberg works? I really have no idea.
What do you think about his intuition vs. rationalization approach to writing? What do you think about Kupperberg as a writer?