Saturday, January 30, 2010

I found this interesting.

How to Write a Novel by BarbecuedIguana

It's always interesting to see how somebody else goes about this very, very individualized process. I, for example, cut the number of steps that this person uses in half, usually writing without an outline and hoping for some burst of inspiration to tie it all together. (Oddly enough, it usually works. Sometimes brilliantly. Go figure.) Then I know some people who will start over and over and over again, trying to get it perfect from page 1, and some people who write shitty draft after shitty draft, each one becoming progressively better.

So how do (or did) you guys go about plunging into that novel you're working on, whatever it is? Do you fine-tune every chapter as it comes? Do you start from the end and write backwards? Do you write like a runaway train (like me)? What's in your box of writing tricks? Spill, so I can create the perfect novel-writing robot.

*ahem* I mean, we'd all like to know. Yes.


Athena said...

Usually, I start with my idea, which, as often as not, comes to me in a dream. With Aigaion Girl, I drew a picture of a girl with horns, then imagined her fighting a demon with horns, then tried to figure out why.

All of my stories up to A/G were written in the runaway train style, though if I got writer's block, I tended to jump ahead to a scene I knew was going to happen (never the end, though, I like to keep that as a prize for myself) and write backwards. With A/G, I got stuck, because I came up with the idea in late September, I think, but I wanted to use the story for NaNoWriMo. I couldn't start writing until November, but I couldn't get the story out of my head, either, so I just wrote down everything I could about it, without actually writing anything. The outline ended up being something like 18 pages long, with seven different colours of highlighting. It actually works pretty well.

So, what I do now: I start with my idea. Sometimes I start with a scene, which I write out in full, so that I don't forget it. If I haven't got a specific scene, I just write out everything I can think of about the story and save it a file called (StoryTitleNotes). When I actually start writing the story, it gets saved in a file called (StoryTitle), and it and its notes file get saved in a folder called Story Title... all of these folders are inside other folders (Children, Vampires, Other, etc.) When I'm done writing the story (I guess this is the first draft), I go through it about a million times to make sure I like the way it reads. If there are a lot of things that need to be changed, sometimes I'll Save As and rename it something like (StoryTitle Redo), but generally, I just edit within the main file. I do do the square bracket thing, but that's usually because I can't come up with a name for my main character, or I know a word is the wrong word, but don't feel like taking the time to look for the right one. Ideally, anything I come up with that's for a later part of the story ends up in the notes file, but more often than not, it's written in one of my nearly 50 notebooks, and when I need it, I have to remember which one and dig it up.

OK, hooray for an article in answer to an article. I guess I got a bit carried away there, but I really think it's an interesting question. I don't know how much help that'll be to your robot, though ;)

Rhiannon said...

Ooo! My turn!

I...generally make stuff up as I go; Bean ends up being my main sounding board, usually while we walk the dog. We've planned a few stories that way, mine and hers.

I don't normally do outlines, since I've discovered that I have a nasty habit of regarding a story as written if it's outlined in too much detail. And, if a thing is already written, I find it twice as hard to write anew.

For my NaNoWriMo story, I actually did a chapter-by-chapter outline...which lasted for about four chapters before the story went elsewhere. I chucked it, after that. I do have a separate file full of random story thoughts (called Random Story Thoughts), because I had the idea before November and didn't want to forget, but I don't do this with all of my stories.

As for editing, I will edit within the main file itself...and I keep a separate file usually called Story Title - Bits for all the bits that I don't want to scrap completely, but feel should be cut, even if just for a little while. Sometimes, these get reworked and put back in - but not always.

If I can, I also print the story, chapter by chapter, and edit by hand. With a 5mm clicky PaperMate Clear Pointe pencil, for preference.

If you think that's're right. >:D

I find editing by hand helps (probably a throwback to school). Plus, I catch more that way.

My writing classes in uni had us doing draft after draft of our assignments, saved in different stages...I never liked doing that, though. Felt...segmented.

As for the order of things: 90% of the time, I write scenes in order, though I often don't know precisely what's coming next. Occasionally I'll get an idea for a scene further ahead, and will carry it along...once or twice I've done the ending before the rest of the story, but not with a great deal of frequency.

Hope this helps the construction of your robot! >:D

E said...

Wow, this was so much more in-depth than I expected. And so much more awesome.

I've just recently started using the idea about making a file of notes about a story and bits I don't want to scrap completely, but that don't actually fit, and I love how easy it is to find. Up until now, I've kept story notes, ideas, and anything else I needc to write down at the moment but don't have any paper on hand in a little fat notebook that fits nicely into nearly every purse I own. It works great, but it can take forever to find anything in it.

Athena said...

I always have a notebook on hand, but that's more for when I'm out and don't have anywhere to type stuff out. It's great, though, to go back through my old notebooks; they're like an unused idea mines.

Rhiannon said...

Oh yes >:) The quintessential notebook. I've got a few myself.

I've also got tonnes of notebooks that I've bought because I liked the cover, and haven't used because all of my notebooks require a specific purpose before I write in them.

And then there's the whole thing with the pens, which I won't get into >:)

But yes, a notebook for ideas (especially the ones you get while you're out) is an invaluable tool of the writing trade.