I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about plotting and writing in general. I’ve looked back on how my writing has changed over the years (yeah, I’ve been doing this a LONG time). When I first started writing, I just wrote words. My manuscripts would include notes to myself either in parentheses or between asterisks. I’m not talking just a little note or reminder to fix something, I’m talking pages and pages of notes where I rambled on about the possibilities of a certain plot twist or general brainstorming.
I still leave myself the occasional note within the manuscript, but it’s usually when I’m done writing for the day and I don’t want to lose the train of thought or where I want to go next in the MS so I’ll leave a note before I save and close the document. This has cut down on my time when I come back to write the next day because I no longer have to read through what I wrote in the previous writing session—I just read my notes and pick up where I left off. Well, I may read the paragraph or a few sentences before my notes to get back into it, but it’s a far cry from the pages and pages of wordage I used to do.
I wrote by the seat of my pants with no plan whatsoever. Then I transitioned to doing my brainstorming sessions in notebooks. I ended up with pages and pages and sometimes several notebooks for one novel. Now this may be due to my obsessive nature; if I had to “cut” an idea or decided to change a plot point, I had to rewrite everything in a new notebook so I wouldn’t be distracted by things crossed out—those scribbles on the page drive me crazy (I even rewrite my lists if I have to cross something out).
And now I have a new method for writing/plotting. I mentioned the 3x5 index card plotting before, but I can’t stress enough how much time and energy this method saves me. If you aren’t familiar with this amazing method, you really must check it out. I first learned about it from the ever amazing Kimberley Griffiths Little. She has some posts on her blog that tell you all about the 3x5 index card method. You can read her first post here, the vlog from WriteOnCon is here
, her follow up post can be found here, and her newest post can be found here (with some quotes from an email I sent her). Blogger seems to be having a bit of trouble (or maybe it’s just my computer) today so if the links don’t open right away, try again.
Anyway, this method has changed the way I write. Drafting is so much easier. Though the notebook people will be sad to lose my business, it’s awesome to be able to throw away a card instead of having to rewrite entire notebook pages because I changed my mind or the plot or a character changed.
For example, in the new MG I’m writing, the main character’s uncle played a huge roll. I had several cards with info about him, scenes with him, etc. I decided it was more important for my main character that her uncle not play such a large roll. So I went through my cards and took out the ones about the uncle that I needed to change. I rewrote new ones and slipped them into place. SOOO easy! He’s still a character in the book so I did keep the cards with his character information, but the scenes with him were thrown out and re-plotted—with the exception of one scene.
It’s been enlightening to take a look at how my writing process has changed over the years. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s changed the way they write. I don’t think we SHOULD still be writing the way we did when we first started—because we’re supposed to improve our writing. I don’t think our writing can improve if the way we write doesn’t change too. I could be wrong though.
Let’s see if I am! How many of you out there are still writing the same way you were when you FIRST started writing (you don’t have to count the things you wrote as a child—unless you want to)?