It’s time for another Writer’s Digest! What’s it all about, you ask? Every other week we will ask our authors questions about the writing process. While geared toward our fellow authors and aspiring writers, we hope you all enjoy this insight into our craft.
“I am not a plotter by nature–I hate planning–but it makes the process so much easier. I try to have the ending planned and I also try to know the major scenes and the midpoint, at the very least. One of my easiest books to write was one in which I’d plotted the entire thing scene by scene, but I was in flow that whole session so maybe it was just the book/story itself in addition. I have gleaned so many great ideas from Write Your Novel from the Middle as well as 2k to 10k (she talks about her writing process in the end even though the book is mostly about boosting wordcount).”
“Longtime panster, learning to plot. I’ve always loved the idea of having fun and going with the flow (especially when a character unexpectedly takes the wheel), but I’m learning that plotting is the much smoother way to write. Less stress and procrastination, a larger view of your world, and the possibility to pick up major plot holes before you waste a lot of work. I think my next step is to remind myself even if the story takes control and wants to go a different direction, it’s easier to adjust the outline than rewrite entire sections of the book.”
“Mixture of both. I know where the story is headed. I draw a very light outline, but it’s the bare bones. If I know too much about my own story, it takes the fun and creativity out of writing for me. I draft character bios that are more detailed than the actual plot.”
“I was always a plotter and found that made books easier to write, though my method was generally to plot the first third, see where it took me, then plot the next third and so forth. For my current six-volume series, though, I decided to experiment with not outlining in depth. I had a general series of plot points for each book and simply wrote from point to point. The end result is that I wrote faster and cleaner than I have before. Some of that is no doubt that I’ve written a lot of books already and I have a solid process for making progress, but I found I enjoyed the freedom. I don’t anticipate sticking with this for future books–my historical fantasies require more plotting and outlining, for example–but it’s been a great experiment.”
“My first three novels I wrote off the seat of my pants. I had vague bullet-point outlines, but didn’t really worry about following to closely if the muse took over. Over time my methods have adapted. For romance, I like to write out scenes as screen plays, to help me hone in on moving the scenes with dialogue. But with fantasy I start out with a fairly detailed outline of the entire book. Then I break down chapter scenes to look back on, adding plot elements I need to resolve later on. This gives me the structure I need while allowing for creative freedom.”
“Depends on what I’m writing. For epic fantasy, I tend to outline more. For romance, I tended to outline less and just let the characters guide me. I usually do my brainstorming in notebooks and my outlining in Scrivener. As for how far ahead I plot before starting, I figure out my first scene, what’s driving my characters and who’s opposing them, and then I just go for it. I usually outline as I go, figuring out the story as I write. If I’m on chapter 3, I’ll usually go ahead and outline the next 3 to 5 chapters. If I discover a plot hole, I go back and fix it, then keep writing/outlining.”