We all have a different approach to writing right?

I got talking to this American woman on the retreat I attended at the weekend. Her method was very spontaneous – she doesn’t plan or write in a chronological order. Instead, she just writes the scenes as they come to her, and then plays with their positioning.

I admired her style.

But I am the polar opposite – I’m an organiser – the idea of a story free wheeling in my mind makes my head spin.

I like sign posts. Clear markers. A plan.

At the moment, I’m currently writing the second chapter, and I know the shape for the first act of the story, but after that – the middle bit – I need to revisit the plot again. Since I started writing, the subplots have really started to gain momentum – I’ve had new ideas – and I need to spend a little time assimilating them into the main story line. Some of the secondary characters also need extra refinement.

Anyway, this is all just an excuse for rolling around with marker pens and index cards….

Filofax – At the moment the middle section of my raspberry pink organiser is just chaos – blog ideas and book ideas all meshed into one  – this cannot continue, so I am going to have three dividers, (1) blog post ideas (2) novel – plot ideas (3) novel – characters. This will be better than writing things down on scraps of paper, and I can take my filofax everywhere with me – have it in bed!

Index cards – I have written down the main plot very loosely on a series of index cards, but now I need to get a little more detailed by writing it out again, now with more focused scenes in mind. I am also going to write out all the subplots in linear order onto cards, and lay these beneath the main plot – this should give me a clear view of how it all fits together, and then build these into the scenes of the main plot, if that makes sense.

Spread sheet – I have an excel spreadsheet that’s helped to organise my thoughts – a brain dump for my plot ideas and a separate worksheet for each character description. I need to revisit that, sifting through the detail, to make sure I am not missing anything when I come to planning scenes on the index cards. I will probably use this spreadsheet to outline each chapter – detailing the story and character arcs.

Print out chapters – This is where my beloved marker pens come in. I’ve realised it would be very useful to print out each chapter as I go along, and outline the places that need more attention – this is better than trying to revise copy on the PC – and I will have it to hand when I need it.This will also mean that I can make changes more fluidly when I next sit down to write instead of trawling through chapters on the screen.

Blogging – I have  other blogs which I really enjoy, but have come to a very swift conclusion that in order to get this story written, I am going to have to free up some time. This unfortunately means  I am going to cut down on the amount of other posts I write. My energy is flowing into Four Gigs and I really need to go with it…..

This might all sound like very bog standard, very basic stuff, but I’m dead serious about getting this novel written, and I need more of a strategy.

6 responses

  1. I love a good excuse to buy pens, paper and get planning. And spreadsheets? Am I a firm believer that spreadsheets solve everything. Photos of your work station, please? Let me see the filing and colour coding 😉

  2. A very methodical approach. I’m impressed :0). I don’t think that there are any writes or wrongs (hee hee) when it comes to this stuff, it’s all about the best process for you. I remember reading one author say that the planning stages always took her far longer than writing the book itself ( a year to plan I think). I do think if you can flesh out the structure/ plots/ subplots as much as possible upfront it can only be of benefit. And I’m with FFHM who doesn’t love a chance to organise and an excuse to buy new stationary?

    • Thank you MP!!! If I’ve planned something it gives me more confidence in what I’m doing – and I’m finding as I write, new ideas come along too – so allowing for lots of spontaneity as well…. any way, any excuse for more marker pens!

  3. That is a lot of planning indeed! My book is set in two different eras and I wrote the whole of the first era, then the whole of the second one. I just sat down and wrote, and did research when I needed to when at a particular point in my story.
    I do not think there are “methods” better than others, you just have to find what works best for you?
    I did print off the chapters, re-read and corrected them, then had other people read them too. They came up with some questions, some typos I had missed and some suggestions too.
    I have done a lot of re-writing and it is not over yet, but nearly there…
    Good luck, looking forward to reading the next installment! xx

    • I agree, it’s totally down to what works for you as a writer. What I am finding now though is that it is best to just get on with it – get the story down and then edit later – I do like to know the skeleton plan of the story events and chapter narrative before I write – gives me that extra nudge. Great to know what other writers like to do! X.

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