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Author Topic: How you Write
legolasgalactica
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I just started working on several different story ideas. I was surprised at how differently I approached each story.

For one of them I made an outline, worked out the acts and scene list, character outlines, internal/external goals, major story engines, etc. Figured it out from start to finish, etc.

In a different story, from years ago, I started with a series of chapters that somewhat provided a framework for the story to follow. I'm not sure how well that would have gone as I never moved beyond that point.

For the other I just had a general idea and started writing with page one and have continued from there. I'm still not sure how it should end or really anything in the bulk of the story--just the premise and about 5 seconds worth of brainstorming.

I was just wondering how different people approach writing projects, if you've tried several methods, which do you prefer--which churns out a better story, etc.

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Robert Nowall
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My writing methods constantly evolve...I've done outlines and such, made extensive notes...but right now it seems I keep firmly in mind what I'm going to be writing for the next three scenes in my story (at least), then I write them down and think of what comes after as I'm going along. Oh, and it's important to keep an ending in mind, at least as a goal to reach---you can always change it if you think of something else.
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jayazman
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I have been an organic writer for a long time. However, I end up getting lost in the story and having to go back and rewrite large sections. I don't like to do that.
So, now I'm trying to be more of an outliner. I am not good at outlining but I am trying.
It is easier to go back and rework an outline that's a few hundred words, rather than reworking a story that is a few thousand words.

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Owasm
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I don't exactly outline, but my 'pre-draft' consists of one or two sentence scene descriptions that take the book all the way to the end using a modification of the snowflake method. The scene descriptions will be three to four thousand words.

My first draft follows the scenes, but I feel free to depart from them as the muse dictates. The basic structure of the scenes gives me endpoints for me to get to during my writing. You might think of them as 'gates' that I need to pass through to make the plot work.

In my current WIP, I shot ahead of my scenes word-wise (too much story, not enough words... I shoot for 1,000 words per scene as a planning average), but I opened up new avenues of conflict and action while I wrote. I review my scenes from time to time so I can get to a 'gate', which is not pre-defined, so I write for a convergence of the story with a scene that I have my eye on during the draft process and then I'm back on track.

I've written seven novels using this technique and find it's easy enough to manage and enables you to move right along in your writing.

It doesn't keep you from re-writing, but it does help limit the story going down the wrong path while not inhibiting creativity as you write.

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genevive42
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A character, an idea (actual plot, not just a concept), a few scenes that need to happen, backstory to construct motivations as necessary. These are my ingredients to start. I have outlined more, but I haven't found it to help.

Note: Every time I ask a big-time professional author if they outline, the answer has been 'no'. I'll bet that is the more common answer.

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jayazman
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Except for Brandon Sanderson. He is a big time outliner.
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extrinsic
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I write both intuitively and deliberately. My general outlining method is to detail scenes' functions as they relate to a central dramatic complication. I begin with mental composition practices. This is the inciting incident that compels the protagonist to act proactively is the first scene. I mentally sketch following scenes toward an outcome of the dramatic complication's satisfaction, as many as sixteen main scene units. The plan develops as much intuitively as deliberately.

Then I put the plan onto a sketch file, listing each scene, characters essential to each scene, settings where the actions take place, the function of each scene, the discoveries and reversals of the scenes, where each scene falls in terms of introductions of the moment, inciting causes, rising actions, crisis moments, climax, tragic reversals and discoveries, falling actions, denouments.

Then, having a scene skeleton, I sketch and flesh out each scene as they develop inutitively and deliberately. I go back during revisions and redevelop the parts and whole for unity and cohesion, usually based on discovering in the process the related larger-than-life tangible and intangible meanings of the whole.

[ September 09, 2013, 05:01 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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rcmann
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I work out where the story will start, where it will end, and a hazy idea of where it will meander to get there. Then I turn the characters loose.
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legolasgalactica
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Well, having worked on the free-flowing idea more, I've decided it needs a lot more structure and planning or it will end up a very short story with little dramatic conflict--which is not what I intended.
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ForlornShadow
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I figure out a general concept of the setting, maybe a character or two, but I generally let the stories write themselves. Usually a theme or an idea will bloom in the first few chapters and I can run with it. I find that writing in an outline can sometimes box in creativity. I become so anxious about following the outline I don't let other ideas bloom. Try writing the first few chapters without an outline and then see what happens, you can always outline the rest of the story later.
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