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Brukaviador
03-09-2010, 09:40 AM
What I'm asking here isn't what kind of things you write, like genre or character types, but more how you go about doing it. I'll start by describing myself to let you know what I mean.

My head is constantly full of ideas about plot threads and characters. I don't do formal outlines, I just let it pour out on to the page of it's own accord and see what comes of it. The first three drafts are purely focused on making the content and style better with no regard for the mechanics of it. The next few drafts are where the real work comes in as I struggle to polish it up into a presentable form. I'm someone who has a decent grasp of the language mechanics for a layman but no formal education in the literary field. The stories themselves come easy to me but remembering where all my commas should be is a nightmare. My ideal writing situation would be to focus all my energies on writing deep characters, quality dialogue and interesting plot lines, and just leave the actual mechanics of the language to the editors.

How about the rest of you?

writerterri
03-09-2010, 10:36 AM
I have several wips going at once. I get blocked with one and pick up another. I like to put the pieces away for a long period of time and forget what I wrote before I edit it. That way when I take it back out I have fresh eyes on it and it makes it easier for me to edit and I'm less critical. When I edit a piece to much it tends to run together for me. I hardly ever outline. I do when I'm driving and an idea comes to me. I usually write blindly while driving or watching tv. I revise a lot too. I can see my face when I finally finish a piece.

I absolutely hate querying.

mario_c
03-09-2010, 10:45 AM
I always outline, but I don't necessarily wait until my outlines are done - I dive in, and the beat sheets are just a map to guide me to the end.
I've got about 4 or 5 WIPs sitting around unfinished (damn, I don't even know!). I try to concentrate on one or two at a time as my time is pretty limited as to when I can write, so I need to focus and dig my heels in to one and push it to the end.

nitaworm
03-09-2010, 05:45 PM
I usually start without an outline. Build character profiles, draw out worlds then force myself to create an outline - of which I go rogue on quite often. I can't do more wip at a time (at least not the writing of it) and I'm haunted by the story until I write it. Hence why it only takes me 3 to 4 months. In between I edit previous works, before moving on to the next story.

Alpha Echo
03-09-2010, 05:54 PM
I don't outline. I start with character profiles, though, and I usually need a picture of the exact house in the city in which my MC is living. For some reason, having a picture of the house or apartment or whatever helps me envision my characters.

I do everything in order - I start writing. I write to the end, pushing through the difficult times when I can't think of a thing to write. Then I put it aside while I start research and writing my next one. After a few months, I go back to start the revision.

Then I gather the motivation to query while I go back and finish the second one.

Phaeal
03-09-2010, 07:05 PM
For both shorts and novels, I do cumulative outlining. That is:

-- The first "outline" captures an idea, usually in a couple of sentences. As I get more notions about the work, I add them to the "germ" document.

-- When the "germ" document reaches a certain critical mass, I start to do whatever research is necessary to flesh out and give a firm foundation to the idea.

-- The second "true" outline is for getting the whole story line down and in good order. It usually starts out sketchy and ends up incorporating fullblown scenes. A short story outline can be 2-10 pages long. A novel outline can be a couple hundred pages long. I do outlines single-spaced, in present tense. That tells my brain I'm not producing first draft copy yet, so I should stay very loose.

-- I don't start the official first draft until I'm happy with the outline, now essentially a very rough first draft. Once I switch to double-spacing and (usually) past tense, the game is on, and I have to write fairly pretty.

-- For subsequent drafts requiring significant work, I usually do little editorial reports to myself, specifying what changes need to be made.

-- For the final polishing draft, I scrutinize every word and rhythm and paragraph break. The picky stage is kind of fun. There's the relief of knowing that the architecture is sound, and now I'm putting the last touches on the decoration.

scarletpeaches
03-09-2010, 07:11 PM
Feast or famine. Some days I barely eke out 1,000 words. Other days I can piss out 5k before dinner.

Undisciplined. Unstructured. I feel like a pretentious fake telling people I need to take time out to dedicate myself to writing.

Sometimes I outline, sometimes not. When I want to write a story out of sequence, that's when I outline.

I write chapters separately on such occasions, pasting them into a master document in order as I complete each one.

Edit once, done. Editing a novel usually takes a week to a fortnight. It's boring, it's tedious, *snore*. I just want it over with.

Queries and synopses? I love writing them. I know I'm good at them. Some are more challenging than others, but hell, if I can write an 80k novel, I can write a 1k synopsis and a single-page business letter without too much trouble. I've sold three books after all (only one of which was mine, but it'll do for me...for now).

C.M.C.
03-09-2010, 07:38 PM
I lack ideas, but make the most of each one. I know what I want, so I'm able to cobble together first drafts that require no substantive reworking. Rinse and repeat.

Alpha Echo
03-09-2010, 08:12 PM
Feast or famine. Some days I barely eke out 1,000 words. Other days I can piss out 5k before dinner.

Undisciplined. Unstructured. I feel like a pretentious fake telling people I need to take time out to dedicate myself to writing.



This is me.

I envy you for being good at synopsis and queries.

I love revising.

scarletpeaches
03-09-2010, 08:15 PM
I think the trick with synopses is, I was able to 'practise' on Lori's books first. That makes it sound like I didn't put my full effort in; I did, but I was unencumbered by that sense of "If I sell this book too hard, it'll sound like bragging." I didn't have to worry about that, because they weren't my books and I really did think they were good, so I wasn't faking my enthusiasm for the stories.

After that, I knew my synopses would sell, so I had that validation before attempting one for my own novel.

Wayne K
03-09-2010, 08:28 PM
I write every day. If I don't whack out 2 or 3 K I feel like I wasted a day. I push my friends when they're not writing, and I beta and comment to try and help them along. I'm Mother Frickin Theresa.

If they said tomorrow that publishers were no longer accepting manuscripts of any kind, I'd keep writing. If I looked into a chrystal ball, and knew for certain I'd never be published. I'd still write.

I have a few important things. Good friends Good family, and the basic necessities. Other than that, I have writing. Nothing else.

I lived my life, I'm old. But now I get to put that all into words and tell stories. I think I do it well, so until they throw dirt in my face, if you need a kick in the ass, stop by the derail thread. Its all we do there.

Well, that and food. :D

mscelina
03-09-2010, 08:39 PM
I treat my writing like a full time job. I go to my desk at nine. Sometimes I stay there until 2 ro 3 in the morning. I budget my time between writing/revising multiple WIPs and freelance editing. I produce up to 12k per day if I'm not disturbed and have occasionally hit 20k if I'm on a roll. I don't outline; I do spend a portion of each day worldbuilding for future projects. When I'm writing, I don't have any distractions--no TV, no phone, no internet--nothing. When a first draft is done, I outline it on butcher paper over my desk, so I can track the continuity of the story and make sure all my loose ends are tied up. First drafts are usually 150k+. After first revisions, they're usually at 110k. Final, submission ready manuscripts are between 90 and 105k, depending on the genre. At the moment, I have 23 different projects ongoing in different stages of completion, but unless a writing frenzy strikes me I'm only working on four at the moment--two novellas for my Mythos series, the last book of the Covenants series, and my way-freaking-out-there fantasy Terella.

And that's about it.

scarletpeaches
03-09-2010, 08:48 PM
Jesus. And I thought Lori was a writerholic. :eek:

JimmyB27
03-09-2010, 09:02 PM
Feast or famine. Some days I barely eke out 1,000 words. Other days I can piss out 5k before dinner.

Undisciplined. Unstructured. I feel like a pretentious fake telling people I need to take time out to dedicate myself to writing.

Sometimes I outline, sometimes not. When I want to write a story out of sequence, that's when I outline.

I write chapters separately on such occasions, pasting them into a master document in order as I complete each one.

Edit once, done. Editing a novel usually takes a week to a fortnight. It's boring, it's tedious, *snore*. I just want it over with.

Queries and synopses? I love writing them. I know I'm good at them. Some are more challenging than others, but hell, if I can write an 80k novel, I can write a 1k synopsis and a single-page business letter without too much trouble. I've sold three books after all (only one of which was mine, but it'll do for me...for now).
Barely eke out 1k? That's a bloody good day for me!

Al Ross
03-09-2010, 09:02 PM
I just started writing in 2008. I wrote on and of and it took me a long time to finish my first manuscript. It's just 65k words and if I am honest the grammar is crap. My grammar is crap. :D I am improving. Now I am writing my second book. I sped up I average around 800 words a day. I am trying to consequently write one hour a day on specific time. So far it works my writing has sped up in 9-10 weeks I hope to have finished my first draft. Meanwhile I try to edit my first manuscript.

My grammar is not my strongest point, though my story is great. ;) When I write I just write. The story flows on my screen with each key struck on my keyboard. It goes it's own way, vague I have an idea what it will become but not always the path taken. It just happens.

This is also a problem for me, my second book is in a sense the sequel of the first, so now I have to keep up with a time line. I do not write that freely now as with the first, now I write freely around a time line and previous story.

To keep up with the facts of the first book I note down in short what happened and when so to use it as a guide while writing. Reigning in when the story goes the way of killing one character that should not be killed yet.

Once finished with the second manuscript I will probably have to rewrite the first one. With each word written you become a better writer and by doing so you can fix past errors. (without overdoing it off course.)

Matera the Mad
03-09-2010, 09:05 PM
I jes rites. :)

My grammar and punc are good out of the box. It's the years of revision that are killing me. But I much prefer a finished work that gets better all the time to one that never gets out of planning, planning, planning.

mscelina
03-09-2010, 09:05 PM
Jesus. And I thought Lori was a writerholic. :eek:

Heh. Lori and I have a mutual respect society going on. She respects me enough not to tell me her word counts, and I respect her enough not to fib about mine. You want to talk to someone who is really fast? Try JeanneTCG. She can write me under the table.

Bubastes
03-09-2010, 09:05 PM
Jesus. And I thought Lori was a writerholic. :eek:

The doom bunneh haz some mad writin skillz.

JamieFord
03-09-2010, 09:08 PM
Whether it's short fiction or novel-length, I always start with a premise, then find my beginning and ending. I make up the juicy middle as I go. Also, I do a ton of research before I ever start writing, but when I do write, It's usually 3-4 hours a day, 1,500 words each day. I begin the day by editing the previous day's work. Wash, rinse, repeat...

CaroGirl
03-09-2010, 10:34 PM
I start with a scene or situation and a character or two. I ruminate on it for a time (there is no set time limit for this). When I feel like I have a reasonable idea sketched out in my head, I start writing it. I do not outline but I do write better when I take a linear approach. Occasionally, I'll write ahead and then bridge the gap. I usually write the entire last chapter sometime during the writing of the first third of the novel.

Usually the full first draft goes to betas after I've read it through from beginning to end to check for plot holes, bad sentences, grammar issues, and typos.

I edit again based on beta feedback. Do one more read-through. Done.

Jamesaritchie
03-09-2010, 11:10 PM
I just write. I pick a genre, find a title, sit down and put and interesting character into an interesting situation, and then let him work his way out of it.

I have no idea what will happen on the next page, and don't want to know. And if I already knew the ending, I wouldn't write the book.

I don't write bad first drafts because I've found that bad first drafts usually lead to bad final drafts, or at best take ten times as much work as they should to become a good final draft. Besides, a good first draft is easier to write than a bad first draft, if that's your intent. Double besides, once you start selling, it's pretty hard to find time for a bad first draft.

The second draft is always my final draft, and it's gnerally a touch up, tighten and polish draft, not a complete rewrite/revision draft.

I write at the same time but not necessarily the same place every day. If the weather is wonderful, I'm likely to be found way out in the woods, if I have the time, or in a local park if time is short. If the weather is bad, and I have cabin fever, I sometimes write in a private room at the library.

But most often, I'm in my office, same time, same place, six days out of seven.

I try to write five hours per day, broken into two sessions, and generally eat lunch and take a long walk between sessions. I only write more than five hours per day if I have a deadline that makes me do so. Most often, one session is devited to novels, and tehother to short stories, articles, screenplays, or what have you.

My minimum daily word count is 2,500 words. Again barring a really tight deadline, that's more than enough, tough on a good day I may write twice this much in five hours.

I don't want to burn out, and it's mandatory that I leave as much time for reading each day as for writing, so that five hours a day is as much as I like to write. And teh reading really is mandatory. If you don't spend nearly as much time reading as writing, writing is pointless.

Besides, I have to have time to eat, time to exercise, time to spend with family and friends, and time every few days to go out to the shooting range and stay in practice so I can hit what I aim at.

I enjoy research, but I always try to do research for the next story I intend to write, not the one I'm currently writing.

Gary
03-10-2010, 01:27 AM
What I'm asking here isn't what kind of things you write, like genre or character types, but more how you go about doing it. I'll start by describing myself to let you know what I mean.

My head is constantly full of ideas about plot threads and characters. I don't do formal outlines, I just let it pour out on to the page of it's own accord and see what comes of it. The first three drafts are purely focused on making the content and style better with no regard for the mechanics of it. The next few drafts are where the real work comes in as I struggle to polish it up into a presentable form. I'm someone who has a decent grasp of the language mechanics for a layman but no formal education in the literary field. The stories themselves come easy to me but remembering where all my commas should be is a nightmare. My ideal writing situation would be to focus all my energies on writing deep characters, quality dialogue and interesting plot lines, and just leave the actual mechanics of the language to the editors.

How about the rest of you?

Pretty much the same. If all the stories in my mind were on paper, I'd have written an entire library.

I'm retired, so there is no need to work myself to death trying to write for a living. I write mostly in winter and enjoy the summer checking off the items that are still on my bucket list. Maybe when that list is done, I'll take writing seriously.

I wrote the first draft of my first novel in less than a week, and I've been editing for two years while I seek the courage to send it out.

Shadow_Ferret
03-10-2010, 01:32 AM
I try to avoid writing. I wish it would just leave me alone. But no. It won't. It teases me with an idea, forces me to write it, then worse yet, fools me into thinking it's publishable, only to have all my hopes dashed.

EFCollins
03-10-2010, 01:40 AM
Feast or famine. Some days I barely eke out 1,000 words. Other days I can piss out 5k before dinner.

Undisciplined. Unstructured. I feel like a pretentious fake telling people I need to take time out to dedicate myself to writing.

Bolding mine.

This is me. I write in spurts--sometimes upwards of 15k a week, sometimes 15k a day if I write like a demon. Then there are long stretches of silence where there is no forward movement on novels at all. But I always, always, always write short stories. They are my strong suit. I'm far better at writing short stories than novels. I can pound out 2-4 short stories a day and not think a bit about it.

I can write the hell out of a query letter, but synopses kill me. And actually submitting the work kills me. I procrastinate on submissions like a kid puts off homework. It won't get done unless I force myself.

Linda Adams
03-10-2010, 02:58 AM
For me, it's akin to throwing paint at the wall. I don't just color outside the lines, I'm off the paper and all over everything else. The first draft is whatever I can think of that fits in with my general idea of the story. Need an action? I'll put one in. Need a character? Just do a quick search on the Internet for a couple of names, and toss him in. I may have scenes that don't seem to fit anywhere or characters who suddenly turn into someone else. Heck, I may not even know who my bad guy is or what exactly the plot is until after I've finished the first draft.

Revision is messy in a different way. There is always a lot of chapter shuffling, and combining of chapters. Some stuff goes out, then comes back in, then goes out, then comes back in. Eighty pages disappear. Somewhere in the process I'll eventually feel like I need an outline to see how the story is taking shape--nothing fancy, just a list of the major story events from each chapter. More chapter rearranging. Eventually I'll write the query to see how the story is coming together. If the query doesn't work, back to fixing, shuffling, and chiseling out. Same thing with the synopsis.

After I'm satisfied with the revisions, an editing pass with minor edits (i.e., sentences that don't make sense; repetitions; obvious typos; etc.), and then a proofreading pass to catch anything I missed during the revisions and editing.

I have tried to change it--tried outlines--but this is pretty much the only way that works for me, as messy as it is.

LuckyH
03-10-2010, 03:02 AM
I try and write ten pages a day, starting at 6.30am, and writing for one session of around six hours. I try and do that for at least three months of every year. I try and write one novel every year.

However hard I try, I often fail with all of my targets. Itís never my fault, but to list all the people who are to blame would take too long.

What I have achieved, despite all the obstacles constantly encountered on a daily basis, is a novel every three years, for the past 17 years.

Itís not just people I blame, thereís also a dog, a processor with a foreign keyboard, and at least two internet forums. And the weather.

And I would strongly advise the OP not Ďto leave the actual mechanics of the language to the editorsí.

Etola
03-10-2010, 09:49 PM
Man, I wish writing were my day job. At best, I squeeze it in during the day if it's slow at work, or do it at night when I get home (provided I'm not distracted by TV, social life, and/or household chores).

I start with an intriguing character or two and a situation, and let it play around in the mental stew that is my mind until it starts to grow. Generally this goes on until a couple of images or ideas slam together up there and cause a chemical reaction, fizzing and expanding into an idea that screams, "WRITE ME!"

So I write. If I'm stuck or just want to world-build, I have a file that's just for my stream-of-conscious ramblings about the story, where I can hammer out the ideas. For the actual story, usually no outline, but if the story gets too complex or I'm having trouble remembering which scenes I want to write and where to put them, I'll create a very general outline which is more of a brief list of scenes or plot points that I want to happen. Generally, the more trouble a story is giving me, the more I will outline.

I write mostly in chronological order, but I will also have a separate file for later scenes that I haven't reached but I still want to write down while they're fresh.

When finished, I'll print out a hard copy and edit with red pen and highlighter. I beta when I think it's firm and polished enough to show to people. Then based on the response, I will rewrite or polish until it gleams. Later drafts may also end up in hard copy for editing, but if something is well-enough along I just read and edit the file directly. I use color-coded highlighters to indicate specific types of changes (for example, green means "Consider removing this section," blue means "use a different word," etc.).

milly
03-13-2010, 05:31 PM
Whether it's short fiction or novel-length, I always start with a premise, then find my beginning and ending. I make up the juicy middle as I go. Also, I do a ton of research before I ever start writing, but when I do write, It's usually 3-4 hours a day, 1,500 words each day. I begin the day by editing the previous day's work. Wash, rinse, repeat...


That's good to hear. I feel like I spend the first hour of my writing each night editing what I'd completed the day before. It definitely helps me get the fingers flying but it frustrates me when it leaves me only one or two hours to get to what I really want to do. I too start with a premise and then, from there, I simply write...let the characters say what they're gonna say!

shadowwalker
03-13-2010, 09:03 PM
I have AADD, so I may write for a couple hours, or I may be bouncing between writing and doing something else every ten minutes. It seems to depend on how excited I am about that part of the story. Transitional parts are the hardest for me, because of all the set-up involved - I want to get to the "action"! :D Which is also why I don't outline, period. I make notes - I have little stickies and notepads all over the place - but I cannot/will not outline. I start outlining and the first thing you know, I'm writing the story, so why bother with an outline?

I rarely know how the story will start until I sit down to write. I may know the ending, or I will know some of the things I want to happen (the germ of the story), but otherwise, I let the characters go and see where they lead me. For that reason, research is done along with the writing. I may spend a week researching conditions in the Canadian wilderness, because Oh! That's where we are! - and then I can continue with my story because I know what to expect there.

The idea of editing a whole story over a few weeks - horrors! When the story's done, I don't want to read it again. Not for several months, anyway. My mother was a teacher - old homework habits die hard ;) so I do my editing/correcting as I write, and each day when I'm done, I'll run that day's work through the grammar check and spell check, and then read it out loud. Any quick corrections get done then, bigger problems get highlighted to deal with first the next day.

PoppysInARow
03-13-2010, 10:03 PM
I only work at one WIP at once. That way I can focus all my attention on that book and make it shine.

I don't outline. Usually I have a bunch of scenes floatin aorund in my head and I have a general idea of where the characters are going. Since I write fantasy, sometimes I will draw out maps, or character bios if the characters are giving me trouble. The first draft I just write. The second I go back and switch scenes around, add scenes, add description, add, add, add. Then the next couple of drafts I work it over to make it look shiny. I usually don't start writing another novel until my first 'polished' draft is done and off to the betas.

I'm a very fast writer, but whenever I get to a scene I've wanted to write for a long time, it usually takes me a long while because I try to make it just like I imagined. I'm kind of obsessive that way.

InsanitySquares
03-14-2010, 12:44 AM
I'm a pretty slow writer, tbh. When I'm most productive it's just me and my document, with music on so I'm not in silence. No internet, that just distracts me. Though I don't have much time to write anyway. I can do half a chapter (800-1000 words) in an hour if I really put the effort into it, though it's rare I manage that much.

wrangler
03-14-2010, 01:40 AM
Most times I do not use an outline but as I am writing I find that the second, third, fourth and fifth chapter automatically pops up in my mind so I keep a note pad and piece of paper on the side for times like that.

For me, it's a challenge fleshing out the story.

Once I am finished writing the novel I'm currently working on, I'll edit it and put it aside before I go back over it. But that's all.

As much as I love to write, I'm also researching and learning all that I can about the publishing business, AND researching the art of making a deal amongst other things. As a writer I have several goals in mind, therefore I plan on learning the rules I need to play by, the fine lines I can walk, and every other business practice that has already been established.

Ruv Draba
03-14-2010, 02:27 AM
I don't start with ideas for stories, but ideas for human enquiry, e.g. How does tribalism reconcile with civilisation? How does a social-worker manage in the face of worsening social conditions?

From there I need to craft conflicting ideas and positions on the what is really a central theme. I aim for dramatic extremes, and then try to personalise them into characters and situations, try to bring them into conflict and think about how they might resolve in interesting and provocative ways. This doesn't create an outline so much as a framework in which my story can grow.

From there I can either improvise story by making a kind of soup -- tossing choice morsels into a dramatic crucible; or I can lay out a spiderweb of plot from the chess-games between major characters, and then thicken and enrich it with layers and sub-plots.

Which I do depends on the size of the story, my familiarity and confidence with the subject and how clearly I envision the characters.

My aim in early design is to gain the best understanding of the potentials of the story for the least effort and at the least risk. So for me, the amount of design I need depends on my knowledge, my vision and my experience. But in general, the bigger and riskier the story, the more I'll develop plots. I find plot-steps to be useful when I'm tracking motives and character arcs; I find scene-outlines to be less useful, because they're more about order of presentation and changes in mood -- they're fairly easy to fiddle during drafting.