Your Approach to Writing

Here's the place to share a writing or marketing tip you've used successfully and want to pass along.
Plaidman
Private E-1
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 6:38 am

Your Approach to Writing

Postby Plaidman » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:27 am

As some of you may have noticed, I am a new member here. I am also a complete beginner at writing. I have several questions for experienced writers. This is one of them:

When you begin to write a story, do you plan out your plot from beginning to end, the way you might put together an outline for a research paper? Or, do you just sit down and start writing and the story goes where it goes?

Other related thoughts:
Do you focus on creating your main character(s) before approaching the plot?
Do you think about setting then build your story within it?

The more I think about this, the more I realize there are many ways to approach writing a story. What approach do you take?

T.A.Rodgers
Site Admin
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:43 pm

Re: Your Approach to Writing

Postby T.A.Rodgers » Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:50 am

We'll assume for a moment that you are not the same poster that keeps asking the same question. And forgive me if I'm wrong. :D

There are so many ways to write a novel that they can't all be listed here, but I'll name a few ways.

For Plotters:

There are writers that plot out every inch of a novel before they start, complete with every chapter, every character, and every small arc. There are writers that do a hybrid of this where they may list what each chapter will contain. There are writers that just write what the three or four acts will contain. I always did a hybrid where I would write the first few chapters because I had them in my head. Then I would write a few sentences about the next 5 to 10 chapters and continue to write. As I was writing I would continue to add information to additional chapters, always trying to keep 5 to 10 chapters ahead laid out. Overall, every writer that plots has to figure out what works best for them. No matter which direction or how much they decide to plot out the story they always ALWAYS need to be prepared to alter their outline if the story decides to take a different direction. YES, this can and does happen.

For Organic Writers (Pantsers):
They just write. Well, mostly. Some will write a few notes down about chapters. Some will keep notes about their ending or a scene or something about a character. And some will keep no notes, nothing. They will just write where the wind takes them. A plotter may say, how in the world can you do this without forgetting where you are? If you write at least 1,000 words a day, you can write a novel in 3 months. That's a short enough time to remember where you are in the novel. Just think if you write 2,000 words per day. And if you get lost, you just go back however many chapters it takes to remember where you are.

Again there is no right way or wrong way. It's what works best for you that matters. The most important advice is to sit down and actually write. You can plot until you are blue in the face, but without actually writing all you have are notes.

rob-lost
Corporal
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Tue May 23, 2017 11:22 am
Location: IL, USA

Re: Your Approach to Writing

Postby rob-lost » Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:23 am

[quote]When you begin to write a story, do you plan out your plot from beginning to end, the way you might put together an outline for a research paper? Or, do you just sit down and start writing and the story goes where it goes?[/quote]
One person who recently went to this topic failed to grasp one point:

The two methods are not mutually exclusive. You CAN do both.

For me, the characters and the "world" they inhabit have to come alive. I have to see them as real people in real places. And all of that has a story to tell me. I experience this as the story already knowing where it's going. But, if you want to get down to (almost) a neurological level, that's just my brain processing a plan.

For me, though, the creativity doesn't just stop if and when that plan is formed. I've made fundamental changes to stories as I was writing them, that altered the course of the plot. I did it because it "felt right." I've also had arguments with the characters when I did that.

In one fantasy I've been working on for a while now, my main character is on a journey. He's travelling through a grassy plain. A big one. I wanted to break it up with a castle.

Suddenly, my main character, Martun, he turns to me and glowers. What follows was all in my head, but it was an actual conversation:
Me: "What?"
Martun: "A castle? In a grassland?"
Me: "I need to--"
Martun: "Who the hell builds a castle out in a grass plain like this?"
Me: "I need something to break the monotony."
Martun: "Rob, think for just a few moments. WHY??? Who would build a castle where there's nothing to defend, and no good way to withstand a siege?"

In the end, no castle.

And yeah, sometimes my writing is as schizophrenic as that appears.

[quote]
Do you focus on creating your main character(s) before approaching the plot?
Do you think about setting then build your story within it?

The more I think about this, the more I realize there are many ways to approach writing a story. What approach do you take?[/quote]
I don't see how I write as an "approach." For me, it's somewhat akin to woodworking, or auto mechanics.

I have a task I want to accomplish. You might call it something I'm building. The different techniques available to accomplish said task, these are like a toolbox. Wooden furniture, like automobiles, can be put together in a factory, with automated systems that make everything identical. That chair arm will always have a length of exactly 24.375 inches, say. Some furniture, and some automobiles, are hand built instead. Each one unique, one of a kind. You might replace said chair arm, but it's never quite the same.

Both methods have proven highly successful in the right circumstances. It's not about one or the other being better, or more efficient. But if efficient works for you, then by all means do it.
Write for the love of writing? Try my Writers Writing forum
http://writerswriting.proboards.com

User avatar
ostarella
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 666
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:51 am

Re: Your Approach to Writing

Postby ostarella » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:09 am

[quote="Plaidman"]
When you begin to write a story, do you plan out your plot from beginning to end, the way you might put together an outline for a research paper? Or, do you just sit down and start writing and the story goes where it goes?

Other related thoughts:
Do you focus on creating your main character(s) before approaching the plot?
Do you think about setting then build your story within it?

The more I think about this, the more I realize there are many ways to approach writing a story. What approach do you take?[/quote]


As the others have noted, there are as many ways to get your story down on paper as there are writers. Not only does the approach differ for each writer, but it differs depending on the story. And whether you're writing a short story or a novel.

Personally, I'm a discovery/organic writer. I have started stories based on a character and based on an idea. I don't write whatever comes into my head and then do massive editing at the end - I edit/revise/rewrite as I go, and also making sure each additional piece fits with the previous piece. When I come to a "fork in the road", I consider which route seems to have the most potential and that's the way I go. I do my research as the need arises. I don't do any pre-planning for characters either. My characters appear in the story and they grow and develop along with the story. I get to know them along with my reader. (I would add here that if you're not a "people watcher", it's a great hobby for a writer. I love sitting in malls, bus stations, airports, etc and watching people interacting. It's fun to make up quick little stories in my head about them, too - lots of fodder for later writing ;) )

Plaidman
Private E-1
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 6:38 am

Re: Your Approach to Writing

Postby Plaidman » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:23 am

-T.A.Rodgers-
"A plotter may say, how in the world can you do this without forgetting where you are? If you write at least 1,000 words a day, you can write a novel in 3 months. That's a short enough time to remember where you are in the novel. Just think if you write 2,000 words per day. And if you get lost, you just go back however many chapters it takes to remember where you are."

I really hadn't considered this. If you just sit down to start writing, you're going to have to rely on your memory to some extent. I'm not sure my memory is all that good.

The best paper I ever wrote in college was for my senior project. I had a lot of anxiety about it. So, I sat down and (for the first time ever, sadly) wrote out a somewhat detailed outline for the paper. After that, the paper practically wrote itself.

I realize that writing fiction and academic papers are two different things. But, by doing that I was able to organize my thoughts. It may help me keep track of subplots and minor characters. But, as I am not actually ready to write anything as lengthy as an entire novel, I should be able to remember what I'm doing.

Thank you for your help!

User avatar
ostarella
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 666
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:51 am

Re: Your Approach to Writing

Postby ostarella » Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:19 am

The more you write, the more you'll figure out how you write. Story telling isn't the only part of writing where experimentation is not only good, but necessary. Just don't be afraid you're "doing it wrong". There is no wrong way except that which keeps you from writing. ;)

rob-lost
Corporal
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Tue May 23, 2017 11:22 am
Location: IL, USA

Re: Your Approach to Writing

Postby rob-lost » Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:02 am

[quote="Plaidman"]
I realize that writing fiction and academic papers are two different things. But, by doing that I was able to organize my thoughts. It may help me keep track of subplots and minor characters. But, as I am not actually ready to write anything as lengthy as an entire novel, I should be able to remember what I'm doing.

Thank you for your help![/quote]
Well... they're two different things, but so is Science-Fiction versus Romance.

There are tools, however, that can help no matter the genre or category of writing. If an outline helps you, it helps you. If you need it to come out organically, then organic is best for you.

"Springfield to Boston to Providence to NYC" is an outline. So is "Highway 37 for six miles, then left on County Road AA. Go 4.2 miles to Elm Street. Turn right. Destination is the red brick house on the left four blocks down."

Whatever works for you.
Write for the love of writing? Try my Writers Writing forum
http://writerswriting.proboards.com

User avatar
wdarcy
Major
 
Posts: 1695
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:13 pm

Re: Your Approach to Writing

Postby wdarcy » Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:36 am

I'm an organic writer, and I begin with a general idea for the story. Then I write out very brief summariesof my protagonist's and antagonist's backstories (sometimes, through DID, they are the same person). Then I start writing. I have no idea who the other characters will be until they appear and I get to know them. And I have no idea what is going to happen next until it happens. I do edit a little as I go, but I save the bulk of editing for when I have completed a first draft. The more I write, the more my ultimate destination becomes clear. And I have no problem keeping the entire novel in my head and remembering everything I've written. As a former Wagner scholar, I used to be able to mentally perform one of his gargantuan operas from beginning to end, both words and music, so keeping a 100,000-word novel in my head is no problem at all.

When I've finished editing the novel to my heart's content, I give copies to friends who have expressed interest in reading it. Inevitably they comment on how tightly plotted it is. The irony is that I never plotted it at all, just wrote and let the story and the characters take me where they wanted to go. :)

--Warren
"Wagner's 'Das Rheingold'" (Oxford 1993). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 1995.

"Elements of Sonata Theory" co-authored with James Hepokoski(Oxford 2006). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 2008.

T.A.Rodgers
Site Admin
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:43 pm

Re: Your Approach to Writing

Postby T.A.Rodgers » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:40 pm

Another thing you have to consider when writing fiction is getting facts that are accurate and blend in with the story. If I'm writing a crime novel, I need to make sure the procedural information is correct. A lot of this research is done throughout the novel writing process, although some can be done before hand. Even most fiction is based on fact. Kind of weird if you think about it.

Plaidman
Private E-1
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 6:38 am

Re: Your Approach to Writing

Postby Plaidman » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:55 pm

[quote="ostarella"]There is no wrong way except that which keeps you from writing.[/quote]

That's good to know! Now I just need to get started. :D

Next

Return to Tips and Advice

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests