Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Writer Wednesday: "How do you do it?"

That up there is my Note Card Outline of Doom for the book I'm working on now. It stretched from one end of my dining room table to the other. As I stood on the chair with my camera, trying to get the entire thing into frame, I had a wild thought that it kinda looks like a spine...granted, there's a few protrusions... But tell me you can see what I mean?

This plot = story spine equation dovetails into my post today. "How do you do it?" Since I've sold a book to a publisher, I've had this question from starting writers. It's related to everything from as general to writing a book, to plotting/outlining, to editing/revising.

The first thing I tell someone is it's all in the semantics of the word and the writer. How one relates to the other. There are as many right ways to write a book as there are writers to do it. What works for me now didn't work for me at the start, and I certainly can't say it will work for anyone else.

I used to be a pantser with plotitudinal tendencies. I had a general idea of where to start a book and where to end it, and some key scenes in-between, then I cobbled them together and pantsed from point to point. Somehow that all changed. Now I outline viciously, not every scene, but at least every chapter. I speak to writer friends who discovery write, and don't know what their next scene will be because their characters haven't decided yet. And I think, "That used to be me..."

It wasn't until a newbie author, sent to me for a recommendation by my agent, asked the type of question above that it really got me wondering. How do YOU do it? Are our Oasis visitors pantsers? Plotters? Do you write from a "What if" question? Do you know your endings? Have you changed your game like me?

Let's chat about this. Maybe we can help each other, and someone else, too. Put lots of "How I do it" answers or people to see, maybe give a test drive, even.


  1. I never plotted before. I was a total panster. Now, I plot a little and I know the beginning and the end with some scenes sprinkled in between. I'm not a hard core plotter, I have to let the characters guide me a little. I did start using notecards and it does help. If anything, it's like a small guide of my novel.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I write with a notebook in hand to jot down thoughts and notes, so I don't have to stop the pacing of my writing in that one sitting. Writing longhand lets me think more. =)

  3. I do two things. First, I write a query. Writing the query helps me get the overall conflict down. Then I do this It's an easy 9 step outline.

    From there, I either just start writing or I'll write out a more detailed outline. It changes with each book.

  4. For my next book, like Eliza, I wrote out the query. I figured it I could boil the story down to two concise paragraphs, I would really know where the heart of it was and what key conflicts would arise. But before I got there, I sat down and thought about my character, how I could start things off with a bang, and what would be the key turning point. I'm hoping to get this all down during NaNo (although I'm not officially signed up) and knowing I have SOME plot structure in place will help me (I hope).


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