Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Monday Meeting--Floating Ideas, or, How Do You Write?

Here is a link to Lille, by Lisa Hannigan. Some inspiration for the beginning of the week. Click through--it's very cool.

I've always called myself a pantser. But I'm not really. I'm definitely not a plotter, although, for sure, I do a lot of plotting and planning. Let me tell you my process, and you can tell me what particular writing illness I'm inflicted with.

First I get an idea. A BIG idea. I write dystopian and contemporary fantasy, and I like my ideas BIG. I write it down. Then I let it stew for a year. I'm not kidding. I let that thing work its way down through my subconscious and back up again for, on the average, a year.

I create a soundtrack, based on the emotions behind my characters, and some specific events that I know happen in the novel, you know, because I've been thinking about it for a long time.

I jot down scenes about these characters. Or notes. Or whatever comes to mind.

Then I write hard and fast. I write to see if the idea will float. And I write for voice. I write until I know how my characters walk through their world.

I send it to crit partners. I want to nail the voice, the beginning, the idea, before I go on.

I revise. I get close to where I want the beginning to be. I find out that the idea will float.

Then I stop. I backtrack. I review all the notes I have, and start taking more notes about plot points, world building, back story. By this point, I already know the ending. I already know the beginning. I start to plot what happens in the middle. I might even draw little graphs, and time lines.

Then I write again, hard and fast.

Then I stop and review, and revise what came before.

I repeat the above until I reach 'The End'.

Then I write my first outline. And an editorial letter.

Then I begin revising.

At least, that is how I write today. :)

How do you write? Can you put yourself into a straight category? Are you a pantser, a plotter, some combination of both? Do you write differently with each novel?

And--my goals this week are to write as much as possible. I want to dig in, and make headway. Write a couple of hours each day. Of course, I have a child home sick today. So we'll see. What goals are you working toward this week?


  1. Excellent process, Heather!! Also, ours our similar :) Only the end always comes to me with the beginning, and it's the middle I have to figure out as I go along.

  2. Ooh, I'm going to try creating a playlist while plotting. I have one for while I write but didn't think about making a separate one. Thx.

  3. I write differently for each project I have. I am constantly shifting gears and changing the way I look at an idea or a character. My process is extremely convoluted, and can perhaps be equated to a mental illness, but I think it makes for some exceptional writing.

  4. And don't worry, Heather. Your process is an awesome one. Stick with it!

  5. My process is very similar to yours!

  6. Honestly, it changes every year as I grow as a writer! usually an idea marinates for a while but the wip I just started came really fast so put of my original writing plans for the fall!

  7. I have a general outline then I pants on specific scenes. And I write slowly. I reread chapters before I start writing. Then I revise those chapters before I write. And then I write. Slowly.

  8. Hi Heather! I let an idea simmer in my mind for months or years even. I don't have a system. I'm always jumping around in my writing and have various projects going on at a time, all in different stages. I decided that from now on, I'm going to try writing straight through from beginning to end before I go back and revise anything. We'll see how it goes! I love that you create a soundtrack to go with your WIP. That's so cool! Sounds like you're making great progress.

  9. My process changes with each book as I read more books on craft. My latest "thing" has been on story structure, which has resulted in HUGE changes in how I plan books. :D

  10. Oh, I just LOVE that you shared this! THANK YOU. I find that I have to write the book before I can write the book. I mean, I outline, but it isn't till I get all of those scenes out that I see what works/what doesn't, really analyze pacing and character development, etc.

    I also love that you spend a long time letting ideas simmer. As I'm writing my first draft (post outline), I'll hit these points where I'm like, "Now what?" I know I want to get HERE, but, exactly, HOW do I do that?? I spend a few days stressing, and then it usually hits me. I get frustrated that the ideas don't come immediately, so glad to know you let thinks sit and stew and congeal :D