Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Madness

So... there is no winner of The Mighty Pen award this week due to lack of entries. As a result I find myself with an empty post slot. I thought I would take advantage and talk a little bit about my method of operation. (Or at least, the method I plan to use for my next WIP Three of Ivory.)

In high school I read several books on writing. I am working on compiling a list of the books that most impacted me and will post them when I have it. During this time I explored my voice and the structure of how I write. In writing Shadowed Stones I learned many different things. My writing method is a combination of everything I have learned thus far.

  1. The idea. I get all different kinds of ideas from all different sources. Sometimes I draw a map and then start imagining what the world is like. Some times I get an idea about an element of a society or a form of magic. But the most common ideas I get are about characters. I try to keep track of all the little snatches of ideas I get because I often pull them into my WIP or combine them to complete a full thought. Once I have an idea I mull it over in my mind to see if it is something I want to work on.
  2. Planning. I alternate between the two tasks below until I have enough of a foundation to start building my outline.
    • The World: This includes maps, laws of magic, creatures, culture and so on. The idea is to flesh out enough of the details of the world where the story takes place so that I can fully understand the environment of the characters.
    • The Story: I think of characters and how they interact and are related and how they fit into the world. This is where the first glimmers of my outline start to appear. At this point I don't keep to a chronological sequence. I just let the ideas for scenes and characters flow.
  3. The outline. I do a scene by scene outline. (To me a scene is a full section starting and ending with some kind of break.) I did not divide Shadowed Stones into chapters until my second draft was finished. I plan to divide Three of Ivory into chapters at the outline stage. This gives me the road map of the entire story. I like having a tight outline because it better helps me work in foreshadowing and so on.
  4. Write. I write from start to finish. This helps me keep the flow of the book going. When I wrote the first part of Shadowed Stones, I actually divided out the scenes for each of my view point characters and wrote them in sequence - then spliced them together. Not sure if I will do this with Three of Ivory or not. The splicing together was very difficult.
  5. Revise. This is the final step I take before attempting publication. And I do several revolutions of it. I always do one revision/proof read before sending to beta readers. I then revise based on the feedback I get. I have found that for me, it is difficult to put more detail in with a revision. So I try to get as much on paper to start with.

What about you? What is your method of writing?


  1. I'm afraid I'm mostly a pantser. I know where I'm headed, but I'm never quite sure how I'm going to get there until I show up at the door.

    My world-building is often somewhat lacking. It's usually in my head, but I don't seem to get enough of it on the page. That's the weak part of my writing. I'm working to improve on it with my current project.

  2. Krista, it's like you're in my head. We write much (exactly) the same way. The one time I tried to skip the outlining step...well...the writing and revision of that thing took forever. Never again.

  3. I think I've written maybe one outline for a story and it got lost pretty soon after I wrote it. I admit that I don't ever have a plan, except what is in my mind. I hope I never had an accident and have head trauma and lose those memories or I'd be up a figurative tree when it comes to my plots. I just let things go, though I usually have a purpose in mind. I like to let the character explore her world and gain the depth that way.

    Your idea of planning is a great idea!

  4. L.G. I think my world building is so strong because love it so much. What helps me most it to draw a map.

    East Coaster, you got furthur than me "pantsing" it. I tried to just start writing. I never got more than a few paragraphs. I kept asking myself - where am I going with this?

    Krista, LOL - I guess I don't have to worry about head trauma. I write everything down and am a pathological keeper of all scraps of paper.

    For me, planning is half the fun. Actually writing the story is the other half.

  5. My style is: do everything I can to procrastinate actually writing the story.
    My best friend (remember Heather?) and I are writing buddies, and we always start with research and planning. That's the best part. After we have done that for as long as humanly possible, we do a outline that we add more and more details to, flesh out more and more until we have a skeleton story, and then we plump up scenes.
    One thing I do, which drives her batty, is during the research and planning stages I create an atmosphere. I find words, colors, songs, poetry, and images that portray what I want the feeling of the story to be. It keeps me on the right track, and in the right mood for the story. Sometimes it also gives me ideas for characters, scenes, and subplots. Sometimes that's how my story starts out, instead of as a plot or character idea, I have an atmosphere that I want, a mood, and I create a story from that. Drives her nuts, but works for me.

  6. Creating an atmosphere is an interesting idea. Never thought of that :)

  7. It's very fun, and productive. I can see you really enjoying it. I'll send you an example sometime soon.