Monday, January 29, 2007


Let's talk method. I'm still fine tuning mine, but the more I do this novel writing thing, the more I figure out what method works best for me. And what alternate routes I can take. I'm much clearer on the beginning parts of my method cause I've done them longer. When I first started trying to write a novel, I tried to write a rough draft and made several different attempts before I actually got through a rough draft. Then I got to where I'd completed several rough drafts and that was no longer impressive. I'm still fine tuning some of what works for me on revisions, since I haven't been at that stage as long. bore is my method. (Don't worry, I'm going to ask for yours too, because I really am interested in how everybody else works.)

1. Idea and Outline. I'm an outliner not a pantser. I tried pantsing once, and still haven't gotten that mess cleaned up. It was truly scary. I admire those who can pants, but I'm not among them, I'm way too anal retentive. When I make up my outline I decide how long I want the book to be, how many chapters, and divide the chapters evenly for word count. Now every chapter isn't EXACT, some are over, some are under, but I really like fairly even chapter lengths because it helps me with my pacing, as does the outline. This part takes me maybe a few days.

2. Rough draft. I try to write this as quickly as possible. The faster the better. My personal best is this past november when I wrote a 93,000 word first draft in 29 days. (next I want to try to do "Fast Draft" A rough draft in 2 weeks. The idea of being able to do that thrills me! And I really think I can.) Also during the rough draft, I follow the outine as a general 'pit stop' guide on the way to my ending, cause I can't start if I don't know my ending. I always veer though, and so I revise my outline accordingly. (Yes, I know I'm freaking ANAL about this. It's my safety net. It keeps me from sitting in front of the computer and just staring at it. It's nice to know what I'm going to write about at least in general before I get there.)

3. Then I let it sit for a few weeks. During this "sitting" period, I start working on my query letter. This is when I do my research and character sketches. Which may sound counter intuitive but I basically bullshit through the first draft on most things. I do my fact checking and research during the cooling off period, because then I know what I actually need to know and I'm not just filling up 30 notebooks with research that may or may not help me. (clearly I don't write historicals, because then I would probably HAVE to have 30 notebooks of research.)

4. Then I revise. I'm finding that just jumping in and editing and cleaning it up helps a lot. Because this can be an overwhelming stage. It's kind of like the rough draft though. Before you start the rough draft it's incredibly intimidating, but the only way to do it is to just jump in and do it, and not try to be perfect. I think revisions are probably the same way. Best not to second guess yourself, just save all your drafts and keep working at it. I'm finding a chapter a day of edits is working well for me. (of course this isn't the only pass through.) Someone on one of the loops suggested keeping a list of problems to fix as I come to them and then marking them off as I fix them. (like plot holes, scenes that need to be moved, etc.)

Also I've started something new, that is working out so much better than I anticipated, which is...while I'm editing one novel, I'm writing the rough draft of another novel. It allows me to do more work this way and allows me to shift gears.

That's as far as I am in the steps. I'm assuming the revisions stage could go on through several passes, finally getting to a polish, and manuscript formatting etc. But yeah...that's my method at this point.

What's yours?


Liz Kreger said...

Sounds like a method that will work for you, Zoe. Being a pantser, there is no way I could duplicate that. LOL.

Still, having some sort of guideline would probably be beneficial. I have to think on that for my next WIP. I have a number of scenes written for that next book ... some just a few words, some entire scenes, and then I'll be pasting them and moving them around to form a cohersive story. Sorta like a jigsaw puzzle.

Zoe Winters said...

hehehe. Now THAT I couldn't do. :)

Liz Kreger said...

Do jigsaw puzzles all the time. My 7 year old daughter usually helps me with the 1,000 piece ones. Talented kid, IMO.

I love getting an idea for a killer scene and then just wonder where the hell I'm gonna fit it. Somehow I always manage to work it in.

Edie said...

Zoe, I'm usually somewhere between a pantser and a plotter. My wip I mostly pantsed, and it needs a LOT of revisions. Next one I'll plot more, but not nearly as much as you do. *g*

Zoe Winters said...

hehehe edie. It's cause i'm a crazy sock monkey...we can't help being anal. ;)