Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My (Unusual?) Writing Process


Nano is only ten short days away from being over, and I've been neck-and-neck with the required word count all month.  

I was initially nervous about writing this novel so quickly, but there's something about hitting the 35K mark that boosts my confidence. If I can get this far, there's no reason I can't finish!

I've always been fascinated by the writing process of other authors. What initially sparked their ideas? Which chapter did they write first? What major changes did they make?

After doing Nano three times and experimenting with different techniques, I've figured out my own writing process. I'm curious as to how many people do it the same way.

First, I make as thorough of an outline as I can. This hopefully includes a chapter-by-chapter summary. Next, I write the first chapter and try to continue chronologically. 

This almost never works.

Why? Because a novel is rarely complete in my head when I first start writing it. (Last year was a glorious exception.) There are always a few holes here and there that I want to skip over.

At the same time, there are certain scenes that jump out at me. They're vivid, insistent, and want to be written right now. So I might be stuck on chapter five while chapter thirty is begging for my attention.

I don't want to leave gaping plot holes in my novel by bouncing back and forth. What do I do?

I realized it's okay to have holes in my novel because I don't have holes in my outline. As long as I follow the outline (while at the same time giving myself freedom to change it), I can write whichever chapter I want.

Every morning I open my outline and skim through it until something jumps out at me. Once something does, I write it down as quickly as I can before the plot bunny goes away. Then I go back to the outline and do it again. 

This way, my novel emerges somewhat like a puzzle. You don't start at one end of a puzzle and work your way to the other; you put together the easiest pieces first. It's sporadic, but you have the cover of the box to guide you, and it all comes together in the end.

What is your writing process?


  1. My writing process is very chronological, though perhaps not at the very beginning.

    I always start with a concept and then move on to plot points and characters, writing them down as they come. When I have everything I think I need, I usually write it all out in the order I think it goes. However, with my latest WIP I drew a map and assigned scenes along the way from my MC's beginning point to their end point.

    Then I write it, beginning to end.

    I like your puzzle analogy. :)

    1. Also, Teralyn, I've given you an award.

  2. This was the year I figured out that writing everything that comes to mine is beneficial to me.

    Last year, I barely scrapped by with 54k. I remember I was so disgusted with what I was writing, I wasn't sure what was going on. *sigh*

    This year though? It was like the elevator reached the top floor. I was mapped out (properly), had my research all tucked away in my scrivener file and I was good to go.

    The weird thing is that I started bouncing around. Something I don't normally do and I ended up starting one thing, going down a different avenue, liked it, and it changed my story completely. Now I've gotta find a way to piece the puzzle together. It's flat out mess, but at least this year, I LIKE the mess. So much so that I'm at 70k words and I want to see if I can make it to 75k. My goal this year was to try and reach 65k and that happened days ago.

    I think it's learning how to write for you, rather than taking advice from other authors. I was always asking, "So what works for you?" rather than figuring out what works for me. *shrugs* It was a hard lesson. But at least I FINALLY learned it!

  3. It was interesting to read about your process. I like your thoughts about writing the vivid scenes when they jump out at you. I have always tried to wait and keep going chronologically, but then sometimes the magic I felt for the scene is gone by the time I get to it. I'm going to give your idea a shot. Thanks for sharing, and I hope you've had good luck with the rest of NaNo! :)


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