Writing Wednesday

Aug 22, 2007 | Writing

I keep hoping to find my rhythm in blogging. Sort of Mystery Mondays, as in you’ll never guess what I’ve come up with, Writing Wednesdays, with my thoughts and musings on writing and the writer’s life, and leave Fridays for Fun. I mean, you gotta have fun on a Friday, don’t ya?

But my plans for some semblance of a schedule keep getting interrupted. I see something I want to blog about and just can’t resist. So there is more or less a schedule around here, but like any schedule in my chaotic life, it is subject to change without notice.

One subject that I’ve had on the list of potential blogs is Prewriting. I tend to be a person who does a lot of prewriting before I actually sit down and type the words. I never really counted this time as writing before the DH put me on The Plan. I’ll talk more about The Plan at another time, but suffice it to say, as I wrote my last book, I tracked ALL my time—from researching on the internet, to jotting notes, to writing, and mostly, I discovered, prewriting. And all this time counts since it all contributes to the finished product.

So what is my Prewriting? With my trusty non-fat latte at hand, and a notebook and pencil before me, I start by jotting notes, lists, ideas, bits of dialogue. I diagram a chapter, dividing it up into scenes, looking for whose POV will best further the story, how I’ll set the scene, a scene question that needs answering. I ask myself how this scene will delve deeper into my character’s changing and evolving situation.

Suddenly, I’ll hear the characters nattering at me and I start taking crazy, fast paced notes like an overworked stenographer (thankfully, by the time this happens, I’m usually starting to feel my caffeine buzz kick in), and suddenly the pages fill with my own wild handwriting that I would pity anyone else trying to decipher. Those notes are the rough beginnings of a scene. Sometimes I have nearly an entire sequence written, mapped out, with great bits a dialogue and places where I want to emphasis some theme I’m pounding home. Other times it is merely a single line that I leave alone because I need to mull it over and ponder the possibilities it offers to my story.

I know there are the pantsers out there who love to write from the heat of the moment might feel strangled by my methods, but I find them very liberating. I experiment and explore with the freedom of pencil in hand. I highlight, I doodle, I brainstorm in seven different directions, and then when the story is ready, I write. And if I’ve done my prewriting, the writing, the really fun part of being an author, flows like water.

Rather than feel guilty about the time I spend jotting away like a madwoman in my notebook, like I used to do, I know that hour or so of goofing around is going to keep me from pulling my hair out later.


  1. Haven Rich

    Sadly after spending four years doing the pantser method I’m actually trying to learn this controlled writing.

    I had a very near completed WIP by pantsing it, but then the great computer virus of 2005 cleared it all out. Yes it’s a live-n-learn situation. And I haven’t really recovered my muse.

    Because of the missing muse, I’ve been working on learning the plotting ways of writing. I’m hoping that a more controlled plan of attack will keep me where I need to be. Maybe I’ll even finish a story. Right now I want to have something finished within the year. I don’t care what, I just want to say I finished something.

    BTW, this is the one project that I’ve started in my entire life and have not finished. As someone who completes everything she puts her mind to, this is very annoying.

    So this year is about buckling it down and planning it out. I honestly don’t care if it takes me another 4 years to learn how to plot things and make it work, I’m going to do it! Which is why I haunt certain authors, because I know they have the plotting thing down to a T.

    Thank you for sharing your methods with us! Trust me, it helps!!

  2. Haven Rich

    BTW, congratulations to Stephanie for writing the 300th post. I’m sooo jealous!

  3. Elizabeth

    I never see the advantage of going by the seat of ones pants, but then again, my writing time is so precious and often so spare, that I have to be able to sit down and start writing and make sure it counts. I haven’t the luxury of pacing about because I don’t know what happens next!

  4. Gillian

    I love my notebooks, too, and have learned to keep them in one place and threaten my girls with confiscation of their beloved MP3’s if they “borrow” one of them.



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