Saturday, June 30, 2012

What Kind of Writer Are You?

What's Your Style?

I've posted about this before, but I think it's worth repeating. Beginning writers get bombarded with materials telling them how to write – or more precisely, how not to write. The fact is, there is no perfect, magic formula that works for everyone.

Some how to authors will say it is mandatory to know the outcome of the story before beginning. They will also demand that the author outline everything. I read such an article when I was a fairly inexperienced writer. I was shocked.

I don't outline – not anything. Outlines are things English teachers demand for term papers. (I know, because I used to be an English teacher.) I outline after the paper is written – and only because it's required

I don't know the ending of my story before I begin. I don't know the middle either. In fact, if I have a structure in mind, chances are good that the story will bog down and not go anywhere. I make notes, jot down ideas, talk about problem passages with my husband (who is not a writer, but has some good ideas) and eventually I get the story finished.

What kind of writer are you? Are the mathematically precise type who organizes, outlines, knows the entire story before you begin? Or are you an organic writer who gets an idea for a story, a starting sentence, a glimmer of a conflict and runs with it? These are the extremes, there is plenty of middle ground. Where are you?

Dellani Oakes is an author with Second Wind Publishing and Tirgearr Publishing. She is the author of 8 published novels and has written infinitely more. She is also a blog talk radio host for Red River Radio Network. Listen for Dellani every 1st Monday at 4:00 PM (EST)for Dellani's Tea Time and every 4th Wednesday at3:00 PM (EST) for What's Write for Me on Blog Talk Radio!


Eden Connor said...

I write the way you do, Dellani, by the seat of my pants. The only time I ever outlined a story turned to to be a waste of time, since a quarter of the way in, the story took off in a different--and better--direction. I do follow one piece of advice I received early on. Write the first sentence. Then write the last. Connect the two. It's working for me :-)

Dellani Oakes said...

Eden, that's an interesting approach. I like it.

Devon Marshall said...

I'm definitely a "pantser" when it comes to style of writing! I do jot down vague outlines, especially where I'm writing a series, but even then 3/4 of what I jot down will be jettisoned by the time I come to final write! I say do it whatever way works best for you and don't be alarmed or get bogged down by what all those self-appointed "experts" say you should be doing!

Anonymous said...

When I write short stories, it works well to be a pantser. It just kind of falls right out of me on to the page. I wrote my first book by the seat of my pants but then revised a few times. I'm still not sure it's ready.

The second novel was written with more structure in mind: what is the internal conflict? external? obstacles? What is the black moment?

Then again, I write romance. We like to torture our people.

Dellani Oakes said...

Devon, I agree! How to books aren't always helpful. In fact, I think they can decidedly be a hindrance.

Anonymous said...

I started with a glimmer of an idea, a What-about-this concept, and let it grow naturally in little spurts. The scenes usually emerge in that way, but once I decided on making a series out of these "little bits", I had to map out a general arc for the overall story. However, how I will get from point A to point B is still more organic and fun to see unfold. :)

Dellani Oakes said...

I have to agree about romance writers liking to torture our characters - particularly the men, I find in my own writing. Does this mean we have deep seated issues?

author Christa Polkinhorn said...

I'm definitely more of an "organic" writer. I start off and the story takes on a life of its own. Somewhere in the middle, I usually get an idea for the ending and sometimes I draft a quick last chapter.
Eden, I have to try your approach about first and last sentence. Sounds fascinating.
Happy Writing everyone.

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