Monday, July 5, 2010

The Right Way to Write

Reposted from April of 2008 at my old blog.  I thought it bore repeating this morning.  Enjoy.

It's a question many people ask both themselves and others. What is the right way to write? If you came to the blog looking for an answer, here it is. And it's so simple, you'll smack your head like you were in a V-8 commercial.

Ready for it?

There isn't one.

Not universally for all writers, that is. There may be one right way for you, but as far as I can tell, everyone does it differently. One person outlines; another flies by the seat of their pants. Some people let the story flow and they follow. Others have a clear path and the story follows their plan.

The reason this came to mind this morning was a blog post the esteemed and humorous Travis Erwin wrote the other day. Just a few minutes ago, I went back to read the comments people had made, and one in particular made me think about this topic. The post is about writing yourself into a corner - something I've done on numerous occasions - and the commenter stated that they don't do it any more because they outline.

My initial reaction was: How sad.

You see, I can't conceive of having the entire book plotted out ahead of time. Those times when I have written myself into a corner, while frustrating almost to the point of tears, have forced my brain to think outside the box. Each time, my story has come out better for it. If I'd had everything plotted out ahead of time, those moments of creavity would never have happened, and my story would've been flattened because of it.

Don't get me wrong. I tried this with Caldera. I had the whole thing outlined before I wrote it. And truth be told, it damn near killed the book with blandness. You see, I can't write that way. For me, writing that way was too boring. I knew what was going to happen, and so writing it didn't excite me in the least. It was only after I threw out the outline and just let things happen, that the book shined through.

I tried it the other way, too. I wrote Spectacle without any idea of where it was headed. Everything was new to me. It was great. And it also took me way too long to write because I had to do a lot of deleting, and going back to check facts, and make sure all the loose ends I'd left were tied up, and... Well, you get the picture.

Now, I do it both ways. I plot a little and I pants a lot. (Not a plotter; not a pantser - a plantster.) It works for me.

That's the point of this post. My way is not everyone else's way. I can't do it the way you do it, and vice versa. Guess what? Neither of us is wrong. Each writer is doing it the way that works for them (or they should be).

My advice? If you haven't found the right way for you, read what other writers have done, pick out the parts that work for you, and come up with your own right way. Your books will come out better for it.

If you've found your own 'right way', share it in the comments. Maybe you've got something that could work for someone else.

And for a look at the old comments, here's a link to the other post: Right Way to Write: 2008


  1. Interesting post. And I think that the only way to find out what way works best for you is to do a lot of writing. Once you write a couple of novels, you start to develop you own process.

  2. I totally agree. Everyone must find their own path to writing their stories. I always did a little outlining, and then added as I went a long. But after my last WIP where I had to do major revisions that took months at a time, I'm going to try to do an extensive outline this time. Maybe it will work, maybe not. It's all part of the journey!

  3. Yep, every writer is different. I think that is why it bugs me when people act like their way is the only right way. I just want to smack them lol

  4. Completely agree. How we write is as unique as our writing voice, our experiences and ourselves.

    I have a thank you over on my blog BTW. ;-D

  5. Plantster. I like that! My last book, I didn't plot. I just had a general idea of where I was going. I had to do so much revising, I swore I'd never do it that way again. And yet, as I work to plot my next project, I don't exactly know where to go. I think a little plotting and a little pantsing is the way to go.

  6. Just wanted to say how much I liked your blog. I'm a new author and i'm in the process of writing my first book. It's been a journey. I am now a follower here and will be back for updates.