Saturday 26 November 2011

Feeling Like a Fake...

I love my social networking sites. I love all the new writers and readers I've been introduced to through twitter and facebook, and all the new authors I've met and great reads I've discovered. Blogging has been a great way to meet other writers and I think all of the advice and tips I pick up on various sites or through other authors have helped my writing and promotional skills no end.

However, there are times when reading about how other authors work really makes me doubt myself. I read about authors who start with twenty-page outlines before they even write the first line. There are others who divide their stories into sub-plots and themes, and edit accordingly. There are more who understand every single grammar faux pas there is to know!

For me, I simply write the story as I go. Sometimes I don't even write the story in the right order; I just write the scenes that are shouting loudest to me at that time and re-jig it all around later! I started this month's NaNoWriMo with a single page of roughly scribbled notes and I haven't even stuck to that!

I know every writer writes in a different way, but there are definitely times when I wonder if I really have any clue if I know what I'm doing. I read all about how organised other authors seem to be, plotting every step of the way, when I've really no idea what my characters are going to do from one chapter to another, and I do get intimidated. The problem is, I honestly wouldn't know where to start when it came to plotting a novel. How are you supposed to write down what's going to happen, when it hasn't actually happened yet!

So what about you? Are you a writer? Can you not live without everything going exactly the way you planned it, or do even the super-organised find that their characters lead them astray sometimes? Is there anything out in the social networking world that leaves you doubting your own ability?


  1. Don't worry, Marissa. There is no right way to do this. Just listen to your instincts, follow your hunches. The first draft is for precisely the kind of exploration you're talking about. For improvising and playing and seeing what your subconscious comes up with. As long as you have the discipline to thoroughly edit your second draft, you can't go wrong.

  2. Thanks Phil. Editing is definitely the most important part. Writing the book is the easy bit!!! Thanks for stopping by...

  3. I cannot remember who it was but there was an author on Breakfast tv recently who said he/she wrote exactly how you do. The characters do the writing rather than the author, if that makes sense. At the end of the day how does the end book read. Is it interesting? Is it exciting? Does it move you? Or is it boring? Do you just want to put it down and pick up another? If you can say it is the former rather than the latter then what you are doing is right for you.

  4. Marissa--you are what they call a pantster (I know, I hate the word too). Do not fret. Every writer writes whatever way they are comfortable with. I sometimes have to allow a day or so to go by until my characters make up their mind what they are going to do next. And then BAM it hits me.

    There are blogs which help you plot, however don't feel like you have to adhere to outlines and such. My suggestion is, write those scenes that are screaming at you. Then on a note card (whatever size you wish) write a brief summary. You'll eventually have all these scenes on a piece of paper and when you feel you want to arrange them, do so on a flat surface. Arrange them and rearrage them until you find the right fit for those scenes.

    Try that for a first draft.

    I forget who said it, but writing is like driving at night with your headlights on--we don't know what's ahead until we get there. I might add...and you never know when a deer might jump out in front of you!

  5. Lorelei, I'm well aware that I am a 'Pantser'. I think that word alone is designed to make someone who writes like this to feel inferior to the 'Plotter' (or maybe plotters feel as though the name makes them shifty and untrustworthy!). I kind of do write as you've suggested, only by cutting and pasting various scenes in the laptop. Normally, when it comes to working out how it all fits together, its pretty obvious to me. Sometimes, if a scene doesn't fit, I just have to cut it altogether.
    Love the analogy! I'll be stealing that from you at some point!

  6. I think we are all in your boat, at one time or another. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to get to the end of my werewolf novella, but the problem is, I don't know what the end is going to be!

    Every author does write differently, but the main thing is to figure out what works for you and then master that.

    I may not always have my novel plotted, but I do like to have a rough picture of what the end is going to look like, minus the details, and I always like to know at least where my next scene or two will lead. Just that alone helps a lot.

    You have three published books and several short stories - I'd say you're on the right track.

  7. I'm both. I write the story however way it flies out of my head - plot is a guideline at this point - if it doesn't appear to have any direction - I rework it until it does. It's all subject to change - especially if the character takes over with more material with further intrigue - but at some point, should it falter - I cut it out and save it for another character. Plotting to me is deliberately sitting there and focusing the "pantser" part. And yes, I've had characters deliberately lead me astray - so much in fact, he wound up with his own novel. He's a demanding fellow. :-)

  8. Erin, I didn't even know how 'Buried' was going to end until the very last moment, I swear! I had two possible outcomes I had in my head, but then in the end, something completely different happened!

    Rebecca - don't reign your man in! He obviously wants to live!!!