February 19th, 2006
Writing Approaches

Saskia’s blog entry on dialogue and the changes in her writing got me thinking about how I approached writing the Blaze last year and how it differed from the way I’ve written other stories.

I’m the first to admit that I don’t tend to write to formula. I write the story I want and hope that other people like it. The Blaze took my writing in a completely new direction. I’ve never approached a story with a plan. Now, I have plotted books and written by the seat of my pants plenty of times, but the Blaze was different. Not only did I plot the book, but I changed how I created my characters.

I know I mentioned this before, but asking the characters to tell me the story from start to finish was a remarkable revelation. The details that came out in the he said/she said enriched the story on many levels. It helped deepen my understanding of the hero and heroine. It also helped me realize their agendas. It was funny hearing each characters’ take on what really happened. (You know how much that can differ, when you talk to people who witness the same event.)

It was so effective that I plan to use the technique on every book from here on out. Have you discovered an exercise or technique that you couldn’t write a book without? If so, what is it?

18 comments to “Writing Approaches”

  1. Oooh, what a good idea. I talk to the characters about the story, but not the whole thing like that. Must try this!

    My main trick is to write at top speed until I get to the end. That way I don’t have time to overthink, second-guess, doubt, or otherwise tie myself in knots over it. The timer is my friend. *g*

  2. Charlene, I actually did that for the Blaze last year. It was the first time I consciously tried it. I think it worked well, but the edits were a BEOTCH!!! *ggg*

  3. I just do what the voices tell me to do. 🙂

  4. I do what Danica does. Listen to the voices. Possibly I do that too often, given that I let them blog on my blog whenever they want to. LMAO!

  5. Danica & May, LOL! I suppose that explains quite a few things. *ggg* 😉

  6. I sit in front of the computer and write. The characters have always talked to me, the muse talks to me – in fact, sometimes it gets so busy that I can’t hear the story. But I just type, I don’t stop for edits (except those little red squiggly spellcheck lines – I can’t ignore them)until the story stops – then I’ll go back through things. Then the cycle starts again. If the muse/characters get mad at me and stop talking I lay the story aside until they get over whatever snit their having. No amount of plotting, planning etc. will change that – if they ain’t talking, I ain’t writing. So I’ll go on to something else. Sometimes they get jealous and come running back, sometimes I never hear from them again. I’ve been told there’s medication for that LOL

  7. I was fascinated to see the tips and tricks everyone else was posting, but all I see are fellow pantsers who let their characters talk to them. Well – at least I’m in excellent company 🙂

  8. Eve, I love to write when the muse or my characters are speaking to me, but I can’t afford to wait for them to return or I won’t get anything accomplished. I’ve taught myself to write without them.

  9. Tina, I used to be a panster. I never wrote a single book with planning, then one day it just changed. I think it was due to some of my stories becoming more complex. I realized I couldn’t count on keeping it all in my head, so I started writing events down. I’ve done it ever since.

  10. I’m a pantser. An idea hits me usually when I’m in the shower and I go for it. Totally none planned. But I’m also a non-linear writer. I can hear the whole dialogue, and I just write it. If asked if where the dialogues belong to, I wouldn’t know. Right now I’m writing a story and my dialogues are all over the place. I wrote 2 dialogues from the middle of the story before I wrote the dialogue of chapter 1. *lol*

  11. Wow Silma, that’s cool. I can do scenes out of order, but they’re complete when I write them…and I always have a pretty good idea where they’re going to fit. 🙂

  12. Ooh, glad you liked the exercise 🙂 That’s a great way to approach it, with the characters telling you the story. When I do a novel-length syn/roadmap I do something similar, but I imagine them in a court of law. I’m the judge and they have to defend their side of the story to me. I let them “take the stand” one or two paragraphs at a time. Because I write this before I write the book (and therefore, before my characters have fallen for each other, in my mind) it really highlights their conflict for me. It can also put a lot of emotion and personality into the synopsis. LOL

  13. Saskia, Now that’s an interesting idea. I never thought about cross-examining them before they actually ‘meet’. I’m going to have to try that. It would be a good way to get the conflict out in front.

    The exercise I was talking about allows you to look at both sides of the entire story, including the emotional connection. It filled in the few blanks I had left. It also enhanced each characters personality.

    This is terrific! Now I have two helpful techniques. Thanks!:)

  14. Jordan, I got the idea from the film “What’s up Doc,” when everyone is gathered in the courtroom trying to tell what happened from their PoV. So funny. 😉

  15. Saskia, Isn’t it funny where inspiration comes from? *g* I cracked up when I asked the hero of my last book to tell me how he and the heroine met and he countered with the question, “What did she say?” He didn’t want to ‘get’ it wrong. *ggg*

  16. LOL that’s hilarious!

  17. I WISH I’d found something like that, but for some reason I write each book differently, with no regular consistency. 🙁

  18. Larissa, I think these tips Saskia and I mentioned can be used with any book. You may just have to shake up the order of things.