Midweek Technique – how do you write?

I thought for this post I’d talk about the actual process of writing a story down and open it up to questions.

I’ve read many, many articles and been in many discussions about how writers get a story out of their heads and put it down on paper.  And the most popular processes are pantser (flying by the seat of your pants, no planning, just writing), plotter (storyboards, GMC charts, etc) and scener (writing scenes, then stringing them together to form the overall story).

No one way is the better way.  Some stories require a bit of pre-planning – for example, I always need to know who my main characters are, what motivates them, what their belief system is and what major changes in their lives make them the way they are.  My story will then be driven by my characters, not me.

For some writers, starting at Chapter One and getting the story down is the best way for them.  If they do too much pre-planning, the magic is lost.

I find that I like a road map.  I like to work out my scenes (even if it’s just a Post-it that says “some action happens here to make the heroine believe x”), otherwise I waste time dithering about, wondering where I’m going. Some scenes come fully formed in my head (I love that!) and I write those down as soon as I can.  So I do a bit of plotting, a bit of pantsing and I am definitely a scener 😀

Have you worked out which process works for you?  Which one/s?

By Paula Posted in Uncategorized

15 comments on “Midweek Technique – how do you write?

  1. Hi Paula,
    I’m a plotser. I like to have some idea of the key points of the story but I wing it from there. Every so often I stop and assess how it’s going, whether I’ve gone off-track and whether I need to do a bit of restructuring while it’s still sort of under control (a stitch in time saves nine, right?).

  2. I need direction so I start with a loose outline….which rarely resembles the finished product. But it gets me started.

  3. Hi Paula, It depends how the idea comes to me. My 146,000 words SF was pantster all the way – I had a dream (heard that one before hey?) – and the dream kept bugging me night after night until I sat down and let it all pour out. Two MS’s that are in progress are plotting with a little seat-of-the-pants thrown in because there is so much to keep track of. Usually I get the idea and play around with it in my head until it slaps me than I put it to a spreadsheet to work out timeline/character development, then from there its a bit of both.

  4. I tend to have an image and characters and write the first 3rd and then plot with a chapter plan from there. It’s not exactly a scientific approach.

  5. I like having a roadmap too, but often the gaps only become apparent once I’ve read the first draft, which is why I like to get that down as quickly as possible.

  6. grrr!!! Stupid computer deleted my reply!!!!

    Okay, try again.

    I really love the idea of ‘a little pre-planning goes a long way’. I find I do less rejigging as the story progresses, but still have room for it to go off on tangents. I wonder if there’s any writers out there who do absolutely no planning, no character GMC, nothing. That’d kill me!

    I also have to let the story percolate when I’m writing – a VERY important process. If you’re all at conference, I have some cool badge giveaways for you 😀

  7. Hi Paula
    Cool blog BTW. I have realised I am a little of both. I have a storyline in mind but my characters sometimes dictate the story. I did notice that when I was doing book in 30 days- having in mind what I needed the scene to show helped develop the story:-)

  8. Pantster here. I only have character photos which I find on google images, an idea how it starts and an idea of how it ends. The rest? It takes care of itself.

  9. I always start with my characters, especially the guy, and work out why they don’t get together in Chapter One and live happily every after. “The Conflict”. Usually I then start at the beginning with the characters and let them show me the way. So mostly a Pantster. I have a couple of partials that I wrote as a ‘Scener’ but filling the gaps slows me down because I have to think more about where I’m going. I do a lot of my plotting in my head when I do long drives i.e. taking my kids to the big smoke for the orthodontist. 6 clear hours of head space. If it’s a new story I’ll usually write a blurb to remind me of the key points as soon as I get home. If I get further than that I’ll write a chapter to try and capture the flavour if I’m not ready to do the write. I’m a bit all over the place with uncompleted manuscripts at the moment because I’m also trying to edit and polish two stories that might be suitable for publication and that distracts me. I’m a bit like Scrat in Scratlantis running around trying to gather all the acorns at the moment. Knowing me I’ll pull the plug and everything will go under. 🙂

  10. I used to pants only, with occasional flashes of forward inspiration which stopped me from getting too bogged down. I now plot more, but there still seems to be a lot of stuff to work out as I go. I think I will probably end up a plotser – enough outline to know the rough shape, but not so much detail that I get bored!

  11. I’ve got a bit of both happening but I’m much happier when I’m in panster mode. I love not knowing what is going to be splattered on the page. Having said that sometimes I like to pen notes in form of an outline. I do believe every book we write is individual and has it’s own uniqueness so there will be books that we plot to death and others that just go blah onto the page.

  12. Looks like we’ve got some pantsing going on 😀

    Kamy, yes, I think it’s important to let the characters run with the story.

    Fi – I can’t be without that head plotting. Thinking, thinking, thinking… best way to work out a scene.

    Effy, I love the not knowing – to an extent! The surprise of ‘oh, wow, I didn’t know they’d do that but it works!” is fabulous. I can be ruthless when I’m discarding possible tangents 😉

    Imelda, I think that’s the key to plotting, enough that it’ll help you, but not too much that you’ll get bored. I’m a Gemini and get bored easily, so 6 months on a book is juuuust about the right length for me 😆

  13. I mostly write non-fiction, which does need a bit of planning. Fiction? Asimov once said that as long as he knew the end point of the novel, he could find his way there. An apt approach, I think.

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