Writers are not all alike, and their writing styles aren’t either. There are three writing styles that keep resurfacing as writer’s favorites, but which one is the best writing method for you?
In part one we talked about the “By the Seat of Your Pants” writing method. This week we’re going to talk about the second writing method – plotting your story out before your write it.
With this method you:
- Then create your draft
Brainstorming is taking all of those brilliant ideas of yours and gathering them in to one place. The ideas don’t have to make sense yet, but you do need to have them written down or tangible in some way.
For example, in fourth grade my class did a fiction writing unit. For homework I had to finish my rough draft of a story and I was stuck. The idea was there, but I had no clue how to make my idea in to a story. My Mom sat next to me at the kitchen table while I cried (because that’s what all rational eleven year old girls do). Once I calmed and we talked about my idea for a bit, she got up, walked over to her desk and grabbed a stack of post-it notes.
“Write all your ideas on these,” she said.
I must have given her a funny look because she encouraged me one more time before I put pen to neon pink paper and started to write. Before too long I had a healthy stack of post it note ideas.
THE MODERN POST-IT NOTE
Post-it notes are not the only way to gather your ideas. If that method doesn’t work for you, there are far more efficient methods available for gathering your thoughts and ideas. Here’s a few.
Pinterest is not just for housewives! Pinterest is a social media site that allows you to save “pins” (which really just means you save links to pictures, items and articles online in different online files called boards).
Pinterest is a great brainstorming platform for writers because you can find pictures and other items that inspire you. And can create a separate board for each story you are working on so that your ideas are organized. Learn how to get started here.
With Evernote you can clip and gather items, somewhat similar to pinterest, but it has a lot more options to get lots of information saved in one place. You can dictate notes vocally, you can email yourself information that is saved to your Evernote inbox. When you do a web search you can enable Evernote to alert you if you already have information on that idea in your evernote. It also has a camera that’s a is a great tool for gathering those random ideas that came when all you had was a napkin to write it on. Learn more about Evernote here.
Scrivener is writing software that has taken the writing world by storm. While it’s main purpose it to help you outline and organize your story, it also has a feature that allows you to save your brainstorming ideas. They have areas to flesh out your character, and places. It also has a free form corkboard where you can create loose notes about your characters and another other thoughts about the story before moving on to outline (which Scrivener does too). It really is a pretty impressive tool. Learn more about using the Scrivener’s brainstorming tools in this video.
My mother’s post-it not idea worked for outlining too. Once I had my brainstorm stack of ideas, she and I worked together to stick them on the wall in way that made the story flow and make sense. In the areas that needed more detail she had me write other ideas on post-it notes that filled in the blanks.
By the end of the night I had a complete outline for my story and was able to quickly construct a rough draft following the post it note plan.
All you need to outline is a stack of paper and patience. If you’d rather, using your computer, typewriter or favorite writing software. But the main idea of outlining is creating a skeleton of your story.
One commonly used method is to go through your story, chapter by chapter, and write a brief synopsis. It allows you see if there are any major “plot holes” that need to filled in, or climax that needs to be added before you’ve written all 100,000 words rolling around in your head.
#3 CREATE YOUR DRAFT
Last is the easy part, writing your first draft [insert eye roll here]. Writing a first draft is anything but easy, but with your outline in hand, it should come together a lot smoother. I don’t think we need to spend a lot of time talking about this process since I’ve already shared my thoughts in an earlier post. But outlining before you draft can keep you on track. With an outline to guide you, you’re less likely to make a major plot detour half way through the story. And less detours means your chances of finishing your draft become higher than the chances of needing a pint of ice cream to keep yourself on track half way through your story.
Whether your writing style is an outliner, a seat of pantser, or puzzle piecer doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. But if you’re searching for what will keep you writing, give the “plot it out” method a test drive at your next writing session. It might be the answer you’ve been looking for.
Click here to send me a tweet. I want to know what writing method works for you!
- Read Part One: PART ONE – Writing Styles: By the Seat of Your Pants Method
- Read More: Write! Sketching your First Draft