Friday, October 26, 2007

Opening Up the Writing Toolbox...

Last week I talked about different writing profiles. We all have different profiles and many times we actually have a combination of several profiles. The same goes for the tools we use when we're writing. For years I have wanted to be a linear writer, starting on page one and typing through in order, revising and cleaning up along the way so that when I type The End, the story is pretty much finished. Life (writingwise) would be so much simplier if I could only do that.

And so, I've tried to develop the habits of a linear writer, using tools that they might use to organize their writing to make my task easier. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with me. As much as I try to write linear, my brain doesn't work that way. I'm definitely a combo of puzzler/pantser, writing out of order enough so I can see how the story is going to unfold and fly by the seat of my pants to piece it all together. What I've found is that just as no two writers are alike, no writing tools should be used alike.

Let me explain. One of my favorite writing tools is a big piece of paper. That's right, just a big piece of paper. I fold the paper into fourths and in each section write 1-4. I base this on the screenwriter's 3 act structure for storytelling, breaking the second act into 2 sections because it's the middle of the book and has more meat to the story.

Now, I didn't invent this writing tool and I realize that not all tools will work the same for every writer. What I did do is discover that even though this is a tool that is meant to be use to plot out a story and make sure there are no holes in the plot, not every writer is going to use it the same way. For instance, a linear writer will write all the basic details of the story all the way through to the end, hitting only the opening, high points, black moment, and conclusion. A plotter won't be satisfied with a small piece of paper and will usually have to either get a really big poster board size piece of paper or write really small. Both will usually complete their 3 act structure plotline before they start the book.

But a puzzler and a pantser doesn't always know what is going to happen in the story. When I write my 3 act structure, I have an idea of how I am going to start the story and can fill in those details simply enough. I may have a scene or two in my head revolving around a turning point in the story and if I'm lucky, I even know the ending. (I do have some proposals written where I've jumped ahead and written the ending before I've written the middle of the book. I love happy endings.) A pantser won't know where they're going until they get their and like a puzzler, will use the 3 act structure AS they write the book to keep them on track and to recognize any holes in their story as they write. It's all organization and can help keep you from getting off track and having to cut chunks of your story during revisions.

If anyone would like to get a copy of my 3 act structure outline with details on what information should be placed where, simply comment here on the blog with your email address and I will email you a copy of the form I use. It's a great tool and I keep it handy for every book I write.
Next week I'll talk about using index cards as a tool for writing.

Don't forget, there is still time to enter my contest to receive the entire Texas Hearts series from Avalon Books. Just email me at with the word CONTEST in the subject line and you're entered!

Until next time, many blessings,

1 comment:

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Lisa,
I love the idea of the 4 squares on the paper, then filling in the story line.

Great post! I'd love a copy of your strategy. Thanks!

Have a great weekend.