Friday, June 29, 2012

Methods to Fiction Madness

By Maggie

Still being in the throes of a major revision, writing a new story is only taking place in my imagination for now. Having just taken Todd Mitchell's incredible plotting and story shaping class, I'm considering a change of approach for my next project.

So far my first drafts have spilled out onto paper or my computer screen, going this way and that as I scramble to keep up with a Hurry! Take this down! pace. I really love writing this way and am highly resistant to so much as the word 'outline.' I've learned a lot from many successful writers and know I have much more to learn. And, even though I know writers who plan their story to such an extreme that they never actually write a draft to the end, I know others who firmly believe a basic story 'blueprint' must be in place before building a novel's 'house.'

There are most likely as many methods to writing fiction as there are fiction writers. Here are some beginning approaches and composites of others to ponder:

  • Write the ending first and work backwards.
  • Create a story board of all the events.
  • Make headings of Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3 and itemize significant scenes to list under each.
  • Think of a character first and cause him or her a whole bunch of grief.
  • Write the inciting incident that sets the character in motion and match it with the climax of the incident.
  • List the main plot points of the story and chart them on a character arc or plot line. You can call it an outline, but I probably won't.
  • Think of it as a math problem of sorts and ask yourself if action and reaction are balanced, if the 'answer' satisfies the equation you have spelled out.
  • Or, of course, write the whole draft first and line it all up correctly when you're done.
However you begin, remember to write with all your heart and soul, and enjoy the heck out of it from start to finish.


Dianne K. Salerni said...

I often compare my process to a Dot-to-Dot drawing. I know all the major dots (or events) before I start writing, but not necessarily how to connect them. As I go, I may change the order of my dots, eliminate some, and create new ones.

After the first draft is completed, THEN I outline the darn thing and take a look at structure and pacing. The second draft is the first one I'd dare to show to beta readers.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love the "jump into the story idea and run with it" approach. It's probably more work in the long run, but for me it's also more fun.

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