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It’s a process

One thing that has always fascinated me is the writing process. Broad, I know, but what I mean is I find it very interesting to learn how different writers go about constructing and creating books in very different ways—I can tell you that no two writers seem to approach it the same way.

Some writers create meticulous outlines, breaking down each chapter to the last detail.  Sometimes these outlines can be so extensive, that the book is virtually complete before the actual writing has even begun.  Some writers simply sit down and write.  A stream of consciousness kind of thing, the words flow onto the page (or screen) in rapid succession, only to be followed by an extensive edit process after the book is completed.  And still some writers will lay out the entire book in their heads before composing even the first sentence.

These are just three of what I can only guess are a countless number of ways writers develop, create, and construct their stories. And it seems that with every new writer comes a new technique.  Which I think is fantastic, because at its core, writing is a creative process, and with something like that, the fact is there is no right answer to the way it should be done.

What’s your method? Do you find yourself looking to improve or modify it?

12 Responses to It’s a process

  1. I’ll write the first half of the book — or, well, a skeletal version of the book that is plot-heavy — and then take a step back to locate the emotional core of the scenes; it’s nearly impossible for me to do both at the same time when I have no idea what happens next event-wise, and an outlining process sucks all creative energy out of me. Then I’ll restart, and just write, reworking and reorganizing scenes, tracing emotional and character arcs, until I’m done with the entire book. My revision/rewriting process follows, in which I look to ensure that there is tightness and logical progression, etc. :) It’s a long process, but it works!

  2. Alli says:

    I’m a plantser–a combination of plotting and seat-of-the-pants writing. Before I start I like to know where my story is headed and what the characters are like, but it’s not until I start writing that I can really get into the nitty gritty. It takes me a couple of drafts to really know my characters. Like Weronika, I need to write the bones first (plot) and then flesh it out with the emotional component of the story. I’m starting a new WIP at the moment and this time I’m going to do even more plotting than I’ve done on the others. Hopefully this will eliminate an extra draft or two in the future. :-)

  3. Eric Christopherson says:

    I write sans outline for as long as possible to maximize that organic feeling, to make sure I surprise the reader given even I don’t know what’ll happen next. But somewhere in the middle of the story I get the urge to outline whatever I’ve got left for the sake of efficiency. I’m a hybrid, in other words, part seat-of-the-pantzer, part outliner.

  4. Tamara Linse says:

    Last minute panic seems to work pretty well for me. :-)

    Kidding aside, I seem to work best in concentrated bursts. As much as I would like to be someone who has a scheduled X pages per day, my process tends to be a little more of a roller coaster. I write every day; it’s just not necessarily all on the work in progress.

    And as far as planning, I take the middle road. A loose plan for things to know where I’m going (which may change during the course of things). I can’t start without something, and I don’t want to plan too much to where it’s just putting off the writing. A lot of thinking happens on the page.

    You just have to have faith in it, you know? Like the E.L. Doctorow quote, which I’m sure you’ve all heard, “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

    Great topic, Stephanie. Endlessly fascinating!

  5. Josin says:

    I write it out like a screenplay, with minimal action and almost all the dialogue in one go, because in my head, I can see the scenes visually. CeltX is great for this.

    Then I translate that into either 3rd or 1st, depending on how I want to write the novel.

    Then, I’ll give it a pass in the opposite POV, which always knocks a bit of the world building into place for reasons I’ve never figured out.

    Then, it’s set in its final POV choice.

    Then, in theory, it’s done.

    (Of course, it’s never really done because I could tinker with things forever, but it’s done to a point that others can enjoy the story ;-P )

  6. Tommy Salami says:

    I wrote my first novel stream of consciousness with a bare framework in mind, in two months. The revision, well, that’s something else. I’m thinking of getting “outline” tattooed on the backs of both hands so I see it every time I type.

  7. I’m an extensive outliner, which makes it all the more interesting when my story diverges despite my meticulous plotting. Sometimes you have to be into the meat of the story before you can really figure out what’s going to work.

  8. Kelly Klem says:

    I only write what will not be left unwritten. If I can forget an idea, however nifty, others are likely to forget too.

  9. I outline the whole thing in my head before I start. Then I write a brief synopsis for each chapter. Then I get to the guts.

  10. Oh, this is such a great question.

    I’m on my sixth novel. The first four died a-borning. The fifth came close but never got out of the incubator. This one is going to get to an agent this summer.

    The first four books were typing. The fifth I tried real hard to outline and plan and plot, but that simply isn’t the way the Muse speaks to me.

    This book has been me simply letting my characters tell me their story. I feel more like a reporter / transcriber than a writer. I’m not saying the book is any good just because of the method I’m using — I’m just saying that this time it is going oh-so-much-more smoothly and with so much more enjoyment on my part.

  11. Kaitlyne says:

    I’m somewhere between a head-writer and an outliner. I tend to work out outlines, some more detailed than others, with tons of notes. Character bios, conversation snippets, research info, etc. A lot of the information won’t ever even make it into the book, but is just something I need to know as a writer.

    I work out a general plot, but I’m not too detailed. In an ideal world, I’ll even be able to sort out the order of the scenes, though at the moment that’s still pretty arbitrary. Then I head-write individual scenes before they go on paper, which is probably why I’m pretty slow. Not all scenes get this last treatment, though. That’s mostly resolved for the most important (ie fun) scenes.

    The plans are always flexible, though, because the characters always manage to surprise me at some point.

  12. I identify with something Pat Conroy once said, “I can’t wait to see what my characters will do next.” (paraphrase) I usually have an idea as to where the narrative is going, but let it evolve as I write. Sometimes I’ll do very rough outlines, especially when writing historical fiction that I want to link with real events. Otherwise, I see it as a journey I’m on, and like any trip, some things I control and some things are a nice surprise.

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