Monday, August 22, 2011

THE WRITE WHISPER: Writing processes

I'm fascinated by writing processes.

How other writers bring their stories to life.

At the RWAus conference, I had an enlightening, informal chat at afternoon tea on Sunday with Stephanie Laurens, Anna Campbell, Barbara Hannay and Annie West.

Fabulously talented mainstream and category romance authors whose books I've read and enjoyed.

What intrigued me about our conversation was our different writing processes.

Some are linear (start the book and right straight through), others write snippets of dialogue or separate scenes, then weave it all together at the end.

I'm always a little in awe of this second group. How do you make it all fit together so seamlessly? And make it look like you wrote it in one go? Amazing.

Me? I'm linear all the way. From the moment I write Chapter One on a blank document, I write the rest of the story straight through. No jumping. No editing. Just write.

Luckily, I write a fairly clean first draft so mainly need to tweak and layer a tad as I go through the next time before sending off to my editor.

Interestingly, I've heard from readers who can pick I write the book in one go.

Yet here's the thing. I heard another gem at the conference that piqued my interest and I'm tempted to try.

In Bob Mayer's "POV & VOICE" session, he mentioned this:

"don't worry about the opening scene. Write the book. The climactic scene should mirror the opening scene therefore you can come back and write/rewrite the opening scene."

Fascinating stuff for a linear writer like me.

Have to admit, I tend to do this unconciously, ensuring the climactic scene ties in to the opening scene but actually mirroring it? Not so much.

While I have to nail my opening chapter every time to set up the rest of the book, maybe next time I'll go back and see how closely it mirrors the last.

Now, you know what's coming next...all you writers out there, I'm dying to know your writing processes. Please share!


sheandeen said...

In order to get a fairly clean 1st draft do you do a lot of set up work ahead of time: character, setting sketches, etc.? Do you write a synopsis first?

Kerrin said...

I write both ways! For some stories it's linear and others i can't help but write the scenes or dialogue that come to me, then i'll order them and tie them in or delete them as needed :)
Never thought of connecting the final scene to the first - interesting!

Nicola Marsh said...

Minimal set up work for me.

I don't do character sketches, etc...Tried them for my first few books but found I rarely looked at them afterwards.

I do a brief 2-3 page outline: hero, heroine, storyline, conflict, motivation.

Then I sit down and write.

So strange, because I used to classify myself as a plotter but I've morphed into a pantser along the way!

Nicola Marsh said...

Wow, that's interesting, Kerrin.

You're a real plotter/pantser combo!

Lacey Devlin said...

Great Bob Mayer quote!

I'm working on my process at the moment. I'm trying to find the most productive way. I tend to be linear but if I'm having a rough writing day I'll pick a scene from later on that I feel like writing and I'll write that.

Raven McAllan said...

it depends where my ideas come to me. so i have several notebooks with ideas, one liners snippets of dialogue, usually scrawled down so fast, I can't read what I have written.
I know what I think I want to happen, although it does sometimes get away from me, And I'm like you, get it typed, then edit. I do go back when I'm writing and re read the last chunk to re-set the scene in my mind, and sometimes I see something so glaringly wrong, then the changes start then.
I do own up to having to stop the car, ring home to get the answerphone, and dictate dialogue I'd thought up, so I wouldn't forget it!

Liz Fielding said...

I'm totally linear. On the rare occasion I write a scene out of order it has been completely rewritten to fit where I've written up to. Or even gets cut altogether because something else has happened in the meantime.

Start at page 1, write until The End. The other way feels like juggling eels!

Nicola Marsh said...

Whatever works, Lacey, go with the flow :)

Nicola Marsh said...

Love it, Raven! (the stopping the car!)

I used to scrawl into notebooks at night, then couldn't read my writing the next day.

When an idea hits, get it down ASAP, I say :)

Nicola Marsh said...

Yes, Liz, exactly!

Glad to hear from another pure linear writer :)

sheandeen said...

I'm still trying to figure out what my process is. I'm much more a pantser. I tried plotting a story--I was never able to actually write that story. I may go back to it in time.

I seem to do better when I just start writing, but I have jotted down some scene ideas for later in the story. However by the time I get there I have to do a total rewrite. Maybe someday I will figure this all out. I do love reading about how others approach the process of writing.

Madeline Ash said...

I suppose I'm mainly linear. I tend to plot the whole story out, chapter by chapter. This plot isn't simply action, but dialogue and descriptions too. Then I start from chapter one and write. I don't jump ahead either (or else I probably wouldn't want to come back and pick up where I left off!) but I do sometimes weave in snippets that I wrote down in my planning book but had no set place for. It is definitely interesting to hear that we all approach it differently :)

Nicola Marsh said...

I do too, Sheandeen, that's why I did this post.

I love hearing how other writers write!

For pantsers, plotting can suck the life out of a story and as you said you change it anyway.

I reckon stick with what works for you :)

Nicola Marsh said...

Wow Madeline, that's so organised!

You're a linear plotter. :)

Do you find doing it this way speeds up your actual writing time?