Amazingly enough, most of my answers to this question begin with: “I used to…”
I used to pants a whole story, straight through. Starting with nothing more than a character walking into my brain and we’d take off running.
I used to never read through what I was writing as I was writing it.
And I definitely never used to edit while I was writing.
I also used to never write out of order. I’m a very linear thinker, so how could I possibly write scene X when I hadn’t written scene C. (My issues with outlining too).
I seem to be out to break every one of those. I still pants rather than outline, but it’s more of a hybrid combination. Using Larry Brook’s StoryFix blog posts I normally pick out the major things I need to happen in a story (pretty vague). For example my whole ‘notes’ for Part 2 might simply be: They need to start building the core of their relationship here, learning to trust each other, finding out their strength. The Big Bad will need to keep them on their toes, preferably more dead bodies, and have him fail sometime around or slightly after midpoint, not enough to make them win…just to move them into Attack Mode.
Add that to figuring out my internal/external GMCs via Susan Bischoff’s post for my two protagonists and my big bad, and I’m good to go. But it’s still way more planning than I used to do.
I also find, that now that I’m publishing, I want to write as clean of a first draft as possible. Before it didn’t matter how messy draft one was. There was no guarantee I was going to do anything with it. And if it failed, so what? I had a zillion other ideas. Not so now. I don’t want to do fifteen rewrites simply because I didn’t ‘plot ahead’ and I don’t want to have to cut 10k words just because I didn’t double check my pacing. Now, I find I write around a quarter of the book, read it through, edit it, then write the next quarter, and so on. So yeah, now I’mediting while I write too. Who’d have thought?
And for the first time ever, I cansometimes write a scene out of order. This is still hard for me, because I only vaguely know what happens…but if I know a scene down to it’s core, I might skip a head (more likely with a novella or short than a novel).
But all of this flabbergasts me. These were things I just could not do. When I used to read through a WIP or, God forbid, edit it while I working…I’d shut down. Go into I hate this mode (also know as the “I suck mode” where the doubt fairies tackle and maul me). And while I still have the doubt-mode quite regularly, I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my ability as a writer. I’ve studied structure, pacing, characterization and put them to practice…and while I’m no ace at them, I have a basic understanding that lends me confidence. When I look at myself now, I’m amazed at much I’ve grown as a writer over these past few years.
So, how do you write? Are there any tried-and-true methods that you tend to use when tackling a new story? What about old methods that never worked before, but are suddenly working for you now?