Today, I’m going to talk about something that I wouldn’t usually think people would find interesting, because it is very unique to me. But it seems like a good beginning to this new chapter in my blog.
My writing process.
I took two creative writing classes in college as part of my English minor, and in both I was taught the same thing–write without a plan. Just start, because you never know where the story will go, and that’s what makes it exciting. I did that for a couple of years, and it went all right. Staring at a blank page on a screen wasn’t daunting to me like it was to many people I know. I think that’s why blogging has always suited me.
I noticed something in those years of writing.
At the time, I was writing love stories because I was looking for love. But all of them (with one or two exceptions) ended up with suspenseful elements. And, when editing my own work, I would notice that the suspenseful parts came out of no where.
Because I didn’t have a plan when I went into it!
I have since perfected a writing process that works for me. It is a combination of what I was taught while in college and what I know about myself and my stories now. This is my basic process:
- Start writing. This first part hasn’t changed much. I usually get an idea in my head and just need to start writing. I usually write a chapter or two to begin with.
- Figure out what I want the ending to be. My college professor would hate seeing me write that–she always said that the ending won’t be a surprise to readers if it’s not a surprise to the writer. Now that I’m mostly writing thrillers, I disagree. I need to know what my ending is in order to lay out clues throughout the rest of the story.
- Outline the crap out of it. How I go about this is different for every story I write. I’ve used a Google sheet to lay out the different points of view. I’ve also used headers in a Word document to keep track of flashing backward and forward. But in both cases, the ending is pretty much laid out from the very beginning.
- Keep writing. Once I have my outline, I just need to stick to actually writing the story. The details area all unwritten, so I have to keep making the story work and flow together while developing the characters along the way. I know–this probably sounds like torture to some people. But I love it. I want this to be my full time job.
Once I’ve gotten the whole book out of my head and into a Word document, I usually try to let it sit and marinate for a while. A week, at least. I want to be able to return to the story with fresh eyes and my copyeditor’s hat on. We can get into my editing process another time.
Here’s what some of my outlines have looked like:
Well, there you go, y’all–my creative writing process. It’s likely not for everyone, but it’s what works for me and the types of stories I write.
As a sidebar, the header method is also how I write all of my freelance work–I lay out the article I want to write using headings and subheadings, and then I fill in the text with the research I’ve done. It’s very effective, and it makes the writing process a lot less painful, especially when I have to reach a certain word count for a piece.
Do any of you have a particular writing process? Share it in the comments or tweet at me if you do!