Friday, February 8, 2013

the way we write

If you read enough blogs and books about writing you will quickly discover that the way we write varies greatly from person to person. Some people are pantsters and can run with a single idea. Others are plotters and have everything laid out nice and neat and organized before they ever write a word of the story. Most of us probably fall somewhere between the two extremes.

Way back in the day I started off as a total pantster, just sat down and wrote whatever came to mind. But it wasn't long before I started making notes about my characters, tried to figure out who they were. Then came chapter notes, little blurbs about what would would happen, but still, mostly pantsting. Then, one day, I finally bit the bullet and outlined an entire novel, extensively interviewed my main characters and delved into theme and plot. This worked out rather well, and I thought, damn, that's slick! I was so happy thinking I'd found the perfect way to write a book. Until I tried it again with the next one.

Fail.

This led to me starting completely over with a brand new toy and a brand new way of figuring out how it works, which, for the record, I haven't. But one of these days I am going to find the method that works every time, the perfect combo between outlining and pantsting. My holy grail. I swear sometimes I catch glimpses of it.




36 comments:

  1. first, love your winter pic!

    and i think each story has its own way of coming out too. i "outline" but it looks different every time. notes about the people and places, or a prinout of a map or a mansion for inspiration...feel the flow, dont force it =)

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  2. Best of luck finding the grail! I've done the whole outlining/character interview thing before and thought I was setting myself up SO well. Then I started actually writing and it didn't go very smoothly. Go figure. I think you're right about each story prompting and needing different approaches.

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    1. It's disappointing. And hard! Last time seemed easier. *sigh*

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  3. Every book is different, just as every author is different. You'll find your groove, I'm sure.

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  4. I think it depends on the story honestly. If you've got a plot driven story, then I would think that you'd need to be a plotter. You need to know where you are going and when. And if you've got a character driven story then you need a bit more flexibility because boy! can our characters surprise us. Either way, I find a combination of both is usually the way to go for me. I know my big plot points that I need to get to, but I let my characters navigate.

    My current WIP is a huge step outside my comfort zone for writing and still in the research phase, but I'm fairly confident I'm going to need more of an outline than I usually use.

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    1. Hmm. I try to be both because I think they are equally important even though I'll be the first to admit I'm more likely to follow an interesting character through a dull plot than the other way around.

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  5. No matter what I try, I still panst.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  6. I'm a total plotter. I'd never be able to keep everything straight in my mind - it needs to be on paper. It's pretty cool that everyone has their own unique way of doing things, though.

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    1. I agree! It's nice that there isn't only one way otherwise I'm afraid I might fail more often!

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  7. I struggle with that happy medium too. I find though once I get started it's generally easier to keep going. The problem for me usually runs into how to start a piece.
    Happy Friday.

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    1. See, I usually have trouble once I get near the middle. That's the hard part for me. Keeping the momentum going.

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  8. I'm guessing this is like with kids - you can't educate them and raise them the same way since they are all unique

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  9. I plot things out. I think that pantsing requires a lot of luck in order to get anything good out of the writing. Sure, I think it paid off for George R.R. Martin, Stephanie Meyer, and George Lucas. But their kind of serendipity will not benefit everyone.

    And what I mean by that is too often, people who get serendipitous with their writing because they end up doing something brilliant that they never foresaw, won't admit that it was pantsing. They'll all lie and say, "Oh yeah...I'm really that smart. I came up with that years ago."

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    1. Oh, I completely agree that there's a lot of chance and luck that comes with pantsing. But I also know that it works for some people. I DO think that plotting is easier but...yeah, I can go back and forth on this - lol.

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  10. I did things the opposite. I started writing novels by using detailed outlines, but I thought stuff came out too contrived. Then I pantsed a novel and loved the experience of allowing the character reactions to dictate the direction of the story. But with the novel I'm working on now, because it's a prequel, I've had to stay within strict boundaries to maintain consistency with the rest of the trilogy, and it's killing me. I want to go off in new directions and tell a different story, but I know certain things have to happen, so I'm sort of back to outlining. Gah! I have no idea what will happen when writing the next novel. I'm a little afraid.

    And thanks for adding the Wormhole blog hop badge to your site!

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    1. Can't wait to mention wormholes again. They're one of my favorite subjects right now.

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  11. I think we learn as we go and from the mistakes in the last book we read. Stay warm and safe through the storm, Marcy. I'll be thinking of you.

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    1. Thank you, Natalie :)
      Hopefully I won't lose power!

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  12. I'm a loose out-liner but I believe each story requires a different approach. So...I have no advice here, I'm just agreeing.ha

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    1. yeah. That's the conclusion I'm coming to.

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  13. I guess that means you're growing as a writer. If it worked the same every time, we could bottle it and anyone could do it.

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  14. I don't have a set way of going about writing my stories, either. Usually I start with an outline--but I've pantsed my way through beginnings multiple times.

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  15. I can't just pants it the whole way - my stuff runs out of steam if it's not thought out.

    That doesn't mean I plot out in minute detail either. After all, the spontaneity is part of what makes writing fun. ;-)

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    1. Oh, definitely. I can't ever imagine having every little detail plotted out.

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  16. The holy grail of which you speak is different for everyone. Keep playing with that combination, the tumblers will click into place soon enough! :)

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  17. I don't know about it being holy but by Grabthar's Hammer, it is a goal.

    You'll get there. I say that with conviction and some prescience.

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    1. who's Grabthar? And tell me more about this hammer you speak of...

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  18. That's so interesting that different books can require different methods of writing. We have to start all over and figure them out! Yeah, I think most writers are in between pantsing and plotting. I am. :)

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    1. Yeah, I think so, too, Carol.

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  19. I think most of us are on that same quest. I sure know that I am....

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