Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writing Process.

All writers have their own process for writing a book. It may change with each story that they work on. Some follow their writing muse and let the story grow as they write. Others need only to plot out their beginning then rely on their muse to guide them. Many writers do extensive research first and after write the story. And then there are some who research and outline each chapter.

I've tried all of the above. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

For my first romantic suspense I wrote by the method of following my muse. 

Muse is code for I didn't know what the heck I was doing from chapter to chapter, but I followed my heart. That book is still hand written and hidden in a box somewhere in the attic.

The next story I knew how I wanted to open the book. My inspiration was a lighthouse on the Oregon coast that was rumored to be haunted.  I'd done my research, visited the lighthouse, and was ready to start writing. Yet, I didn't know what was going to happen in my story from one chapter to the next. I was still relying on my muse.

After this experience I decided I needed to know the beginning and ending of my stories before I started writing. And that has worked very well for me. I have written many novels using this process. Give me the beginning and the ending and I'm good to go.

And then I started working on my new WIP. I had the beginning and the ending scenes in mind, and I even wrote a synopsis, so I knew what needed to happen in the book. BUT I have been struggling. So for the first time ever I've written a chapter by chapter outline of the novel on my handy dandy white board.

This isn't my white board, because right now mine has my story all over it. I can't tell you what a relief it is to look up at the board and know what I need to work on for the day. 

So here is my Wednesday writing tip: always be open to try a new process to write your story.

Do you have a routine that works for you? Please share. I may give it a try for my next book.


  1. I think different books sometimes require different methods. Generally, I'm a heavy outliner. I like to start with 4 things: three escalating disasters, followed by an ending. ;)

    I expand it by adding in 3 more elements (turning points/plot pinches--Dan Wells has a great 7 point story structure lecture on this you can watch on Youtube).

    Then I draw it out on a sheet of paper, forming an arc. I take a bunch of time and fill in the spaces between my first 7 beats. After that, I do chapter by chapter and sometimes scene by scene outlines. Yeah, I'm a little crazy but it totally works for me!

    Fascinating to read about your process too, Kathi!

  2. I usually write a mock query letter to create a very rough outline of the main plot. And then I start writing ;-)

    I like the idea of whiteboard btw! :D

    (And I'd follow your blog, but google won't let me :( )

  3. Thanks for this advice--I really enjoyed this post.

  4. Laura,
    I'm impressed! I'll certainly keep your suggestions in mind. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Marieke,
    Query letters would help. I usually write a synopsis, but this time I needed a bit more.

    Darn, I don't know what's with google. I'd love to have you follow my blog. Stop by any time. =]

  6. Rebecca,
    I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by. =]

  7. This is the second time I have seen a white board mentioned. I am going to try it out. I tend to lose scraps of paper. :)

    I have tried planning and pantsing. I find semi-planning works for me.

    I am finding that going back to old fashioned box filing for my research, is better for me. If I file it on the computer I skim rather than read.

  8. Glynis,
    I have that same problem of skimming things saved on the computer as opposed to reading a print out. Jody Heyland prints all the research she finds online. I thought I'd try her method with my WIP. Now if I could just get my printer to work. =]

  9. Kathi, I think with each book, I'm revising my technique so that it's a smoother process. I too have a white board. :) It's a lifesaver!

  10. Stacy,
    White boards are awesome! Thanks for stopping by. =]

  11. My first book was written purely by muse. And it was a mess. So now I outline. My outlining may not be as detailed as I would like it, but at least it's something to add shape to the story before I write it.

  12. Kimberly,
    I know what you mean. My muse needs at least the beginning and ending of a story. And I think outlining is going to be a big plus with my current WIP.



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