Most times I take an idea and run with it, then try to make sense of pages I’ve written by the seat-of-my-pants. I discovered a few years ago that when life steps up to the plate, I needed more than my memory to actually finish a manuscript. I have written short stories straight through, edited and sent them off to a publisher. My first and a few other short stories were accepted with light editing. Like many author's submitted manuscripts, my others were rejected.
A novel isn’t that easy. There’s too much in the mixture. For me at least. If I know the scene, I can pop it out fairly quickly. That’s the fun part, when the words fill pages without too much blood, sweat and tears. That doesn’t happen too often.
Once an idea forms, I let it perk while my mind accepts characters and plot they’ve drilled inside my head.
I use 4X6 cards to jot down chapter information. Projected Title, Chapter, POV, Characters, Setting, Scene Goal, Scene Conflict, Scene Disaster, Sequel Ending Goal. As the story begins to come together, I also fill in temporary chapter #’s at the top and page #’s at the very bottom. That way it’s easy to find in the manuscript, if I’ve updated at that point. Updating the cards is painstakingly time-consuming, but crucial if I’m to maintain the story’s organization. At any rate the page #’s and other pertinent information gives an approximate area so I don’t need to search forever to find a certain scene in the manuscript.
Not everything comes at once of course, but the card structure is movable and I can throw away
cards at will and begin again when the story begins to jell. You can also play What If with the cards. Throw them down on the floor or table and mix them up. See if a scene will become more powerful elsewhere. Sometimes that procedure works, other times the cards are carefully put back in order. I
also have a Whiteboard, but haven’t used it in a while. If you don’t have one, check it out to see if it would work for you.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is – When You Know Your Story – writing becomes easier. Of
course I’m talking about the first draft. Simply getting it down.
Editing is an entire other basket of eggs.
What’s your favorite way to write? Could you share what you do to make your writing easier?
A Smoky Mountain Wedding – Book Two, coming soon.