I usually talk about makeup and style here on Saturdays, but since it’s still National Book Month I thought it would be fun to talk about a different kind of style: writing style.
It’s so interesting to me how everyone has their own method that works for them when it comes to writing. And we’ve all heard that phrase, “are you a plotter or a pantser?” (it sounds a bit like a bad pick-up line, but really it just means do you plot your story or fly by the seat of your pants).
Technically, I’m a pantser. But since I’m also a very structured person I always start out by saying I’m going to be a plotter. I promise myself with every new manuscript that this will be the start of my neat and orderly writing process. I will plot this one out thoroughly. I’ll be so concise I’ll even do character bios, so that I can pull from an encyclopedia of information any time I want! Yup. That’s exactly what I’m going to do!
I’ll be so incredibly organized writers everywhere will ask me how do I do it? And I’ll be like, “I don’t even know, I just love plotting! It comes naturally to me…”
And then after about 2.5 minutes of fantasizing about how organized I’ll be, I get a great idea.
I can’t stop to outline the idea though (seriously, who’s got time for that?), I need to just write. And then that idea sparks something else. So I don’t bother figuring out where to put it. I just type it up before I forget.
Before I know it I have my ending at the top of the page, my climactic scene last, and my beginning somewhere in the middle.
It’s weird and headache-inducing, but it works for me.
So, all thoughts of neat and orderly plotting forgotten, I wind up just rattling off everything that’s in my head. And it’s a giant mess. For a very long time. But I learn to make peace with that mess (sort of).
I also work out of at least three different files. One has my working title and consists of the bulk of my story, one has the entire development of the love interest (I usually title that file with the love interest’s name), and one is for any backstory I may or may not include but feel I should know regardless.
Besides my computer files, I also keep a journal by my bed for the inevitable 4AM stroke of “genius.”
Between the files, and the illegible handwritten notes scattered everywhere it can all get pretty overwhelming when trying to make sense of it.
Obviously this is all just my first draft mode. Although it should get cleaner with each revision, it tends to get worse before it gets better. But, then, somehow, it all comes together! And when that happens it feels pretty great!