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 3×5 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 3×5 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)?