The Writing Process - Part 2

July 15, 2013

Yesterday I posted a little bit about the writing process, and how it can sometimes drive writers to the loony bin (admit it, you have to be a little crazy to be a writer!). 

For some reason, the writing process of other authors really fascinates me. Writing is such a personal experience and everyone does it a bit differently. 

For example, I found a nice blog post on JK Rowling's writing process, as well as an article Stephen King wrote about The Writing Life . (and if you haven't already read his book On Writing, then you need to make some time to check it out!) 

From what I can tell, there are two basic kinds of writers:

* The Planners, who plan everything out before they start writing 

The Impulsive, who write on the fly. 

I am definitely a planner. To the extreme. I'm talking nerd planning status here people. Seriously. 

Here's a peek inside the computer folder for my first novel:

Inside my main folder, there are folders with more folders. Word docs. Excel sheets. Inspirational photos (I told you--nerd) Character bios, World-Building, Plot Ideas, Book Publishing Ideas, Query Letters (ack!).

It goes on... and on. 

With my first novel, I planned, outlined, and Character Bio-ed (eww-not sure I can make that a verb) for about six months before I started writing. Yeah, crazy, I know. Part of that is because I write fantasy, so I have to create an entire world. So... that takes time. 

Some people can't write like this, it's too stifling. It kills their creative impulse as they write. But for me, it is fantastic. I can plan out an entire book series this way and then I'm ready to sit down and write (which is the best part). This way, I can write with confidence. I know my characters (very well)--where they are in the beginning and where I want to take them. I can clearly see story archs and how the plot plays out. All of it clearly laid out on an Excel sheet.

I love me some Excel sheets. *sigh*

For me, I couldn't write any other way, but I know going to such great lengths to plan everything out beforehand would drive some writers nutters. 

Don't get me wrong, there is definitely room for on the fly creativity. My characters constantly surprise me and take the story in places I don't expect. But for the most part, I know exactly what their future holds (cue evil laugh **mu-wah-ha-ha**).

So how about you? I am really, really curious about other writers and what their process is--from story idea to finished novel. Are you a planner or an impulsive (yeah... I'm taking the freedom to use that as a noun). Please, do tell. :)


  1. Hi, there! I do a combination of both. I start with an idea (a character, a setting and a situation) and begin writing. Often the beginning comes to me. Then I work my way through the book with frequent halts to figure out what's next. Sometimes when writing a mystery, I don't even know who dun it.

    Lately, though, I've gotten contracts for mysteries and the editor wants to see an outline. After groaning, I actually enjoyed working it through to the solution. And it did make the writing go more smoothly. I did change it somewhat as I went, to make the story better.

    So toying with the idea of at least a general outline for other projects.

  2. I hate outlines. Hated them throughout grade school and high school English classes. That and diagramming sentences which only improved my artwork on drawing stick people. When I first started writing using an outline I found my stories to be stiff, less organic and more predictable. I really felt too constrained using an outline. Once I disposed of the outline technique I found writing to be easy and my narrative more free flowing. To me, outlines are a waste of time. If you give your characters free will, they will grow in ways you never anticipated, and they take the story places you could not have predicted, raising themes you might or might not have intended to explore. Characters shape events; events illuminate the characters. the people in a story begin as seeds, become buds, and blossom in ways that surprise the author, precisely as real people frequently surprise each other with their intentions and capacities.