Monday, January 17, 2011

The Starting Line

I'm starting a new project this week and I'm really enjoying it. Because of this, I've been thinking a lot about the way people write. This new project isn't outlined. I have a cool concept for the book. I have an general idea of what's going to happen in the first few chapters--beyond that I have no clue. It occurs to me that this would terrify some people, particularly outliners.

For me, there is something that happens about 1/3 into the book that I can't describe as anything but divine. It's this miracle of creation that is beyond just me. Suddenly, I know what happens next and where the rest of the book is heading--without a doubt. I never expect it and it usually surprises me. I love it. This is why discovery writing is so organic. It flows and grows in a way that is unexpected, even to the writer. also means I usually have to go back and rewrite the beginning to include all the foreshadowing that I didn't expect I would need. But it's worth it and I really enjoy the whole process.

How does writing work for you? How does your story evolve?


  1. I don't think I can claim a "normal" yet, since I've only written the first draft of one book, but my way seems... harder. I can't outline since I can never figure out what my characters will do until the moment I ask them to do it. On the other hand, discovery writing usually bumps me up against a dead end. So I have a hybrid option, where I plan benchmarks and try to drive my characters toward them. No sudden epiphanies, here, just a lot of "no! That way! Go that way! WHY won't you go that way?" :)

    Your way seems better.

  2. I'm not an outliner. I believe they call us "pants-ers" because we fly by the seats of our pants. I do sometimes have tow rite out some notes about halfway through so I can keep my thoughts clear but it works better for me to start writing and let the characters come out in the story rather than trying to force it with some outline.

  3. It is great when that happens. for me its usually a bit of a mix between plotting and letting to story grow in its own way.

  4. With my first two projects, it was just sitting down and writing. However I tried an outline with the third, and I really liked using the outline--until I reached a point in the story where it changed (dang those characters), and now the rest of my outline won't work.

    I'm going to try a white board/notecard option to bring some order to WiP #2 since I need to get the PoV's clarified, and I think having it visually will help.

    I hope, anyway.

  5. It's great to be able to trust the creative process like that! I usually have a general idea and then let the story evolve.

  6. I outline. I started out seat of the pants, grab something quick and hold on here we go... I knew the direction I was headed, just not the specifics. There was nothing wrong my story at all, except as I was busy pants flying my story went from YA Fiction, to Long, to Epic Long to... 'How did I write the "Hobit" and am only 1/5th of the way done.

  7. I'm an outliner all the way...but lately I've been considering just pantsing it with a new project. That scares the bejeebies out of me but I'm curious to give it a go.

    Go, Jenn go!

  8. Usually I have an idea that simmers at the back of my brain for months, or years, until I can line up plot, characters, and conflict.

    I start the book knowing at least the start, finish, and high points in between.

    Somewhere around chapter three it all falls apart. Every third chapter becomes a battle. Either I'm diverging, or the characters are wallowing, or the pacing died... something always goes wrong.

    I forge ahead, hit delete a lot, and somehow survive to the end.

  9. I usually have an extremely rough outline primarily because there are certain elements I don't want to forget, but as several before me have mentioned, there's always change. In my current project, a new character popped up and hijacked the whole thing, which was fun and made the story much better! :)

  10. For me that's the funnest part of writing. The unexpected. I'm definitely a pantser, but as I go I write down things I think of doing.

  11. Love the magic of writing!

    Personally, I have to know how a story starts and ends before I begin writing. However, on my last book I outlined the entire book.

    For me, each book is a new experience.