There are lots of ways to get that story out of your head and onto the pages, different things work for different people. So where do you start?
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
First time I was asked this I had to ask what a pantser was, it’s someone who just who just sits down to write and lets the story tell itself. I’ve heard Enid Blyton wrote many of her stories that way, don’t know how true that is but I remember hearing it.
Of course, the other alternative is to plot out the story from start to finish. Not necessarily in minute detail, but know where you’re going, at least the general direction.
On that criteria when it comes to novels I’m definitely a plotter. For a short story, I might just write, but novels definitely get plotted, but rarely so tightly that I can’t use something new that comes to mind in the writing. For example in the steampunk novel I just finished the first draft of, I pdoorsomething in the background of chapter three that I hardly took any notice of, it was literally only there to give more of a steampunk flavour to a character building chapter. However, by the time I got to a crucial twist at the end of the book, that background got brought very much to the foreground, in fact without it, my characters might have failed to do what they needed to do. The plot didn’t change but it left me enough room to get creative, and after all as writers, creative is what we’re meant to be.
I believe that even when I plan a book, and I can do in great detail often specifying where characters are even if they are off page, being open to changes along the way is important.
Once you’ve decided to plot or just go for it, will you write from start to finish ordot about to write scenes as inspiration takes you?
Have to say I’ve done both. The steampunk I mentioned earlier, that was done in individual scenes as I figured what I wanted to happen in that scene, but I was jumping back and forth through the timeline of the book. That worked for two reasons. Firstly, because I had plotted the story out (loosely) so as I found a scene that worked in my head, I wrote it. Secondly, because I’ve had a lot of other stuff going on the last few months, snippets of time is all I’ve had. However, since I had just finished, I now think that thisis going to be one of the most difficult edits I’ve ever faced.
I have tried to just write scenes as I’ve seen them then string them together but that’s tended to be stories about Mc and Mac, two specific characters – a cop and a pathologist -who usually end up working best as a series of short stories, they don’t seem to want to do a whole book together yet. Which is kind odd since the end of the first story has one asking the other out. And the last story I have written so far in their chronology has them married. But hey, sometimes you can’t control what charters will agree to do.
In thinking about this blog I stopped to think which way I prefer to write, and I think my preference is for writing a book start to finish. That’s probably quite boring but it’s what works for me and I suspect most writers. I find that the most effective way to ensure that any new threads that appear are best woven into the fabric of the story.
So turns out I’m a plotter who works from start to finish. How about you?