Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Writing Process

I've stated before here in my blog that I've noticed many writers obsessed with how others work. They want to compare their practices with others to see if they are on the right track. While writers need to just sit down and get their own work done, I believe it is helpful at times, especially when you feel you're in a rut, to peek into the writing lives of others. For this reason, I will give a quick look at my own writing process on my newest work in progress. Maybe it'll give some of you ideas of how you can get your own work done, or it might just fuel your voyeuristic pleasure. Either way, I'm happy with however it helps.

I start by taking some time to write out random ideas about the story to get it solidified in my mind. I think briefly about who the characters should be and write that down. After that, I write down ten or so brief scenes that will be used throughout the book. This gives me a rough outline, which grows bigger as I connect the dots, so to speak. I keep the descriptions of these scenes brief, on one 3x5 card for each. Of course some of the scenes may take multiple chapters to complete, but they're still brief on the card. I don't do much to flesh out the characters at this point--no bio, no card. I jot down notes when I think about things I need to know about them. Instead, I think it's more important to get to know the characters during the draft. The revision and rewriting stage is where I will flesh them out and make it look like the story started with just the characters instead of plot.

When I have my scenes on my cards, I put them in the order that I believe they go in and start writing. I feel this is a good balance between free-writing the first draft (sometimes referred to as "pantsing" as in writing from the seat of your pants), and working from an outline. It gives me freedom to explore my story and world while having a solid foundation to be anchored in. Plus, if I choose a different route than I'd originally envisioned in the outline, it's easy to make up new cards and set aside the old ones that no longer fit.

As I write, I keep plenty of notes for various reasons. Since I've just created a small outline, I need to make things up as I go. When I do create new rules, characters, or whatever, I jot those down so I don't have to search through many pages later to remember what I'd done--place names, character names, character traits, etc. I also make notes about revision ideas I have. I feel it's counterproductive to go back and fix already written work when I know I'll be changing things in my revision/rewriting stage anyway. It's more important to get that first draft done, so a quick note about what I want to change works much better for me.

That's really all there is to it for me. The main part of getting the first draft done is simply sitting down and putting words on the page. My simple outline gives me the freedom to enjoy the writing and creating process. Let me know what you think about my writing process, and feel free to share your own. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing!