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Your Successful Formula

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Philip Overby, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I know there's no such thing really, but I thought it would be interesting for us to post what is our successful formula for writing. Your definition of success could extend from just finishing your work to getting it published.

    This formula seems to help me finish (these steps aren't necessarily in order):

    1. Think of a pretty good idea.

    2. Think of some characters.

    3. Give the character something to do, preferably on a small scale. For short stories, this is when I do a little world-building. For novels this is when I do more significant world-building without getting carried away.

    4. Outline. This takes a while. :)

    5. While writing, think of cool and interesting places for my characters to interact that may not be specified in my outline.

    6. Try to have a villain worth hating or any obstacle that seems insurmountable.

    7. If I have too many characters, consider combining them.

    8. Write everyday until I get a first draft (this is for stories or novels). If I can't work on my WIP because I'm stuck, work on short stories or flash fiction.

    9. After I'm finished, go back and make my characters shine by polishing their dialogue and giving more of a voice and personality to my characters.

    10. Clean up some of my settings. If the settings are dull or too ordinary, spice them up.

    11. Read and read some more. I'm not one of these people that thinks "I'll get my wires crossed if I'm reading and writing at the same time." I think reading can sometimes spark creativity within you, so go for it.

    12. Once my story is finished, let it sit a week. Go back to it and then polish some more.

    13. Well, it's as good as it's getting! Start looking for markets.

    14. Send it out to a market (this is only applicable to short stories for me at the moment). Forget about it.

    15. Immediately start work on something else.

    What kind of formula works for you to keep you writing? There's no right or wrong answer of course, but if you have some advice on certain things you do that help you, then share with us here!

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    1. Think of characters and or an idea (which one is first changes from story to story);

    2. Start writing to see where the characters or idea are going to go;

    3. If project = short story, then:

    • a. write the rest of the story;
    • b. edit for typos etc (technicalities);
    • c. send it out until it sells;

    4. If project = longer work, then:

    • a. make a few notes or a skeletal outline to track where the story is going;
    • b. write the rest of the story;
    • c. edit for typos etc (technicalities);
    • d. publish it or submit it.

    That's my general process; specifics may vary from time to time.
  3. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    1. Start with a character or two.
    2. Give those characters each a problem.
    3. Outline the steps they'll take to overcome those problems.
    4. Write.
    5. Tweak the outline if necessary to keep things straight.
    6. Keep writing until you finish. Then put it aside for a month.
    7. Revise, edit and polish.
    8. Look for markets.
    9. Found one (or twenty)? Good. Submit, submit, submit.
    10. Get started on something else during the wait.
  4. Guru Coyote

    Guru Coyote Archmage

    My best writing seems to come from a process that looks something like this:
    * I have a strong scene in my head, more like an emotional picture.
    * during my daily scrapwriting session, I write that out in about 750 words, not intending to use any of it.
    * Sometimes a second scene comes to me in another session.
    * If that happens, I usually start to make some notes an maybe outline a possible plot.
    * I try to find further scenes in that story that "flow" during scrapwriting.
    * if that happens, I know I have something worthwhile - the imagery is compelling enough for me to keep writing.
    * when I have enough of these scenes to form the core of a story, I start showing it to others and see what the reaction is. At this point I usually have what you could call a finished first draft.

    And then the real work starts... i guess. Editing for style, spelling and grammar, re-arranging parts, filling out gaping holes.

    The key here is that the writing needs to be compelling enough for myself. If it is, I will continue and finish (isn't that what we all struggle with the most? Finishing what we start?).
  5. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    As an assistant budget analyst, I think of writing like so:

    1. Set time and place constant
    2. Add variable heroes and heroines
    3. See what they sum up to

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