Monday, May 21, 2007

Ritualistic Writing

Not much to report writing wise this weekend. I managed to get a page or two down on chapter four, but already I'm thinking very little of it will survive when I open the file up and dive back in. I know a lot of writers do a rough draft and pretty much go straight through from beginning to end without revising. I tried that when penning my second novel and somewhere in the middle I found myself lost. Matter of fact I strayed so far from my original intent that I ended up quitting going back and rewriting my first novel for four or five months and then starting completely over. My third, A River Without Water is where I developed my current routine. Write a chapter or two. go back edit up to the point where I stopped. Write another chapter or two go back to page one and edit the now three or four chapters, and so on all the way through the end.

I've also tried using an outline, but found it a bit too rigid for me. I felt compelled to follow it come hell or high water, even when new and better ideas occurred to me.

I think most of the people who read this blog are writers and I'd like to hear how some of you go about the craft. Are you an outliner, a single rough draft kind of person, or do you have some other kind of quirk?


Swishy said...

I could never outline, at least not the way most people do. I probably outline a little bit at a time, very roughly, but not one of those super-detailed ones. NO WAY!

Merry Jelinek said...

I know other writers who swear by outline or storyboard approach... I'm not that organized and I think that might just take half the fun out of it for me.

I like the Mark Twain method; set a few characters down on the page and let them run around for a while.

I write the original rough draft out long hand in notebooks. I know, this sounds like a ridiculous amount of extra work, but I have three kids and carrying around notebooks is a lot more conducive to sneaking in work time at their lessons or out on the patio when they're running amok in the yard. The first revision is when I key each chapter in, and I usually write one or two full chapters before typing them up.

After that, there are revisions. On the one I'm working on now, I've done three revisions and am currently on my edit. What's the difference - for me, revisions mean getting the plot down right, setting the timing, and tweaking as much of the writing as I can. Editing is cutting any backstory, fine tuning the wording (again), cutting anything extraneous that drags down the action (even though I often love the extraneous) and generally making sure that the reader will stay engaged with my characters. Editing stage is also where I'll add in foreshadowing descriptives and cut out any secondary plot ideas that have gone astray. Because I don't use outline, and often start with a rough idea of what happens and very vivid characters - the fun in early writing is in finding the story... I like the fact that I'm as surprised with what happens as a reader would be... but I have to say, it's a longer way to creation than those organized people usually boast.