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Writing is telling myself a story…

August 21, 2011

I have been blogging mostly about science fiction and futurist views of the implications. I decided to switch it up a bit and talk about writing.

When I started writing my novel, Nanomagica, I tried taking lots of notes on plots, characters, scenes, etc…and I bored myself silly. Fact is…I couldn’t write that way. I had to find another way that worked for me. So I laid out just enough notes about the beginning…the middle…and the end of the novel to guide me. I then began each chapter with some quick notes on characters, scene, and plot…and began writing. Some days, I had no idea where I was going so I didn’t write that day. Other days, the ideas just flowed. A funny thing happened…the writing became very organic and spontaneous. I knew generally where I needed to end up so I wrote toward that goal. It was very much like I was discovering my own story. I had to stop every few chapters, reread the earlier ones, and fix any inconsistencies. Some chapters were eliminated because I found that I just didn’t like them enough to keep them. After I was finished writing the whole novel, I went back and refined it.

In the end, this system worked for me and the book, if I do say so myself, came out better than I could have hoped. I know that this would cause a problem if I died and someone wanted to continue the series, but I am what I am and this is how I write.

  1. Norm, Good post. I have tried both ways too. “They” say some people are outliners/planners, and some people are “pansters”—spontaneous organic storytellers. I truly believe that everyone is a little bit of both.

    It’s easier to be a panster on the first draft for sure. Though you better make sure you have all your continuity issues handled on the second draft. That requires in some cases a database of notes!

    I have a different problem—staying interested long enough to complete a full first draft. I am finding the middle is a slow slog and I am not sure I care enough about it to keep going. How about talking about staying motivated to finish the novel?

  2. Hi Sue. Thanks for the comment. I think the key to keeping focused is to avoid writing too many “filler” chapters; chapters that do not advance the plot or enrich a character description. Filler chapters happen, but if you keep them to a minimum and make sure there aren’t too many in a row, it really helps keep your interest level in your own story at a higher level. In addition, I found it really helpful to have someone read my chapters as I wrote them. In my case, it was my mother-in-law, I got the biggest kick out of waiting to hear her reaction to a twist or a tense scene. I guess writers can crave an audience too.

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