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Writing Styles

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by TheCrystallineEntity, Nov 23, 2018.

  1. I'm curious to know what types of writing styles people here have.

    I thought about making a poll, but then realized that it would be too limiting.

    So, I'll just provide a list I found in Reflections, a book of of speeches and essays from Diana Wynne Jones.

    1) Making careful plans for the whole story.

    2) Writing information down on cards or sheets of paper, then organizing them to plot out the story and background information.

    3) Back to front and inside out. I've never met anyone who does that. It'd be way too confusing for me.

    4) No planning whatsoever. Figuring out the beginning and the end, and then having no idea what happens in the middle until you write.

    I'm trying to figure out what mine is, and I've been writing for more than six years.
  2. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Sage

    Closer to number 2 than any of the other choices, though I don't use paper much anymore. My notes and info and bits of narrative are likely to be saved in some word processing program or another, and fitted into a loose plan that sort of resembles a synopsis more than an outline. I write out a lot of 'what if?' questions for myself and often work up more than a couple possible ways the answers could go before settling on one.
  3. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Sage

    I guess I'm somewhere in the neighborhood of option 2 and 4? I write notes and outlines, detailed back stories as they occur to me, but write only on loose leaf paper in binders. That way with a few notes to myself, I can easily move entire sections of text around when I'm drafting or editing. And I am an extreme editor. I don't throw anything away on impulse, but if I wrote something that just isn't going to mesh with new directions or details, it gets paperclipped and stuffed into another binder. Maybe it will see the light of day again, maybe it won't.

    I also have some idea where to start, some idea where to end. Maybe even if it is as broad an idea of writing "themes" to open and end the novel.

    I really do let myself wander in the first few drafts. That's my creative process. No real limits, just write.
    There are visual elements, or key scenes, maybe dialogue or interaction between characters I know I need to have happen to actually, you know, have a plot. But the stuff inbetween? Free-writing, basically.
    Followed by merciless rounds of editing.

    My first draft sometimes reads more like a screen play, honestly. Sometimes so sparse as to only mention an ambient environment, and the two characters talking. Maybe a few actions. Other sections are more complicated, so the details get expanded.

    That's the outlining phase. First 'real' draft to me is when I commit to typing. I don't hate computers, but I don't get a thrill from typing for hours on end. So, I'm more or less commiting to what is going into the hard drive, and do spell check and grammar editing. Those sparser sections get worked out during this phase. By that point, it should be ready for my first round of beta readers.
  4. Malik

    Malik Archmage

    #3, if it means what I think it does. I always write my ending first, then plot backwards. "How did they get there? How did they get THERE? Okay, how did THAT happen?" and so on.

    It all goes on yellow legal pads, plotted from the end to the beginning with flow charts.

    When the story starts to get boring, I know I've overshot; I move forward a couple of scenes until it gets interesting, and open there.
    Night Gardener likes this.
  5. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    #1 for me.

    I start with a vague idea, and then reiterate on it until I have detailed descriptions of what happens in every chapter. I don't always stick to the chapter outlines as I write them, and sometimes I rearrange chapters after I've written them. There's a plan though, I'm just not that good at following it all the way through.
  6. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

    Waypoint writer.
    Night Gardener likes this.
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    It depends on the story. I usually know the destination (which is not quite the same as the ending). I usually believe I know the beginning but just about every time the finished product begins somewhere else. Usually further into the story than I'd first imagined.

    Another important element in planning for me is deciding on the main characters. Usually I know who is the MC and that doesn't change, though it did on Goblins at the Gates. It nearly always happens that secondary characters shift around--ones I'd imagined would be important turn out not to be, while others seem to appear out of thin air and become important, and still others were there as little more than placeholders or vague notions until the time came for them to come on stage.

    The characters are important because the plot shifts in significant ways in reaction to them. It's really a three-sided dialectic (a trialectic?): setting, character, plot. No matter how clear each seems to me at the outset, things shift around.

    But all that isn't writing style. It's planning style.

    As for writing, I go into a scene the same range of variety. In some cases, it's the blank paper, the concept, maybe even outline, and I start writing. It's rare for me to writing in a sustained way for more than ten or twenty minutes, at which point I have to take a metaphorical breath. Around an hour or so I run out of momentum. At such a point I'll check email or go get tea or otherwise take a break for ten minutes or so, not thinking about the work in progress. I return and go at it again. Somewhere between three and five hours, I hit the wall. I know there's more to write, but the work has become laborious and I lose heart. Time to stop.

    Then there's rewriting, which is where I am now. That's an even more convoluted process. All the guides and books rarely talk about how to write Draft 2 or Draft 3.
    Night Gardener likes this.
  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    For me, tons of worldbuilding, and tons of ideation, including plots and scenes. But there's so much of it that it's like a massive foggy cloud, and I can only see clearly a few chapters ahead.

    That said, significant rewrites feel terrible to me, so I like to feel confident in the few scenes that I do see. That's why the first step for me is to dialogue a scene out a bit like a screenplay, often a few scenes ahead, to make sure I'm comfortable with what I'm writing.
    Night Gardener likes this.
  9. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Archmage

    I'm going with 1, 2 and 4 and putting them in a blender and rolling with whatever I have. Though my normal story style is shorts within the world and building off of that and so on. It's confusing, doesn't make much sense, but I like my shorts. Most of the time.
    TheCrystallineEntity likes this.
  10. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    I worldbuild until a story emerges, and then I stare at the skeletal frame of that story in the hope that it will write itself if I put it under enough pressure.
  11. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    I don't outline per say but I do use plot points and brainstorm my ideas before starting to write them into books. My process looks something like this:

    -a story idea will marinate in my head for months or longer before I finally write it. During that time, I research the setting, historical period, and details about the backdrop of the book.
    -come up with names, a list of tropes that will make up the story, come up with a mock blurb, write out character flaws/goals/how they mature throughout the course of the story, maybe do a bit of background on the characters, theme, then I think about it some more.
    -I may start writing early sometimes, but I typically know when I'm really ready to write a story. Then I use the plot points to brainstorm along the way, writing linear and doing editing cycles as I go.

    So...not a style but more of a method for me.
  12. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Sage

    For the life of me, I could not come up with that word 'waypoint' the other night to put in my reply. Serves me right, trying to actually write and think 14+ hours after coffee...
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  13. Guy

    Guy Inkling

    2 and 4, I guess. I have a general idea of what the story is and start writing. As I write, more issues come to light. That's when I have to start making notes and rough outlines, so I can resolve those issues and fill in the gaps, close the plot holes, and polish it up.

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