All Write!!! It's Friday :)

11:39 AM Elizabeth Seckman 32 Comments

photo thanks to  Brenderous on Flickr


Writers are always asking...pantster or plotter?

Okay, well, all writers are plotters...but do you write from the hip like a pen wielding cowboy with a draw as quick as a duel during a high noon show down or are you more like the neat and tidy sheriff with all your deputies in a row, warrant in hand?

Well, what if you're a bit of both?

Like me!

I have a basic outline, sort of...it's usually in my head. It's a generic sort of story will start here and end like this kind of thinking.

Then I get ideas for twists...and ideas for scenes...maybe even a bit of dialogue that would work in a passage...and maybe a chapter add on for a chapter that's not even written...yet. And then there's always the extra character who steps out from the crowd and says, "Hey lady, I need a bigger part."

So, in a flash...that neat outline goes from a prettily scripted black and white shoot out to a massacre as gross as a Quentin Taratino flick!

What do you do?

Darned if I know.

But I can tell you what I do...

I have one spiral notebook and a folder (you can even color coordinate them!) for each WIP.

In the folder...I can stash research, things cut from magazines, printed off the internet, or any other little loose items that may be used in the story.

In the notebook, I tab and separate it into sections:


  • an outline
  • a timeline
  • a character sketch with deets on each and every character
  • a simple summary of each chapter
  • brainstorming (all the possible what ifs and twists)
  • edit section (what chapters have been spell checked, line checked, etc.)
  • the blurb and tag line section...get a spark? Write it down...Fast!
  • in the back of the notebook...all the scribbles that may one day be the wee bit of literary magic that becomes your magnum opus. 
This is how I do it. 

It's not as pretty as a 1950's spaghetti western, but it doesn't make my brain hurt like a 1990's blood bath either. 

How 'bout you? How do you keep things straight?



32 comments:

  1. I'm *such* a pantser... but I do outline a bit in my head... so yeah, I'm a little of both! And I LOVE the cowboy comparison! That was perfect! LOL!

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    1. My brain is so scrambled, I have to have something organize the chaos!!

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  2. I'm a scene sewer :) I write out of order and then have to sew it all together.

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    1. I'm a lot like that! Perfect way to describe it!

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  3. I'm like Morgan - outlines in my head, then straight to writing! I very, very rarely write notes!

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    1. Really? Wow. A little jealous. I will have to go back through when it's "done" and check each chapter for all the places I dropped plots, went off on a tangent and never returned. My first drafts are total wrecks!

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  4. I'm a pantser. I write down ideas in a notebook when they hit, but I usually start writing before it's developed. The characters take me where they want.

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    1. I always imagine I should be a pantster, but I can't. I have a tendency to ramble if I don't reign myself in.

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  5. Total panster here. I discovered yesterday that I think that's why I've only written in present tense so far. Because not even I know what is going to happen ;) haha.

    Love this btw: And then there's always the extra character who steps out from the crowd and says, "Hey lady, I need a bigger part."

    And thanks for the tshirt!!! It makes the perfect sleeping attire :)

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    1. LOL...I figured it would be sleepwear! I have such rotten kids (well, not really). So far, we have all pantsters here!

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  6. I work along the same lines you do, Elizabeth. I have to have a rough idea about setting, time frame, characterization, etc, then I let loose!

    Thanks for sharing your system. :)

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    1. Emily, as meticulous as you are, I would think you had a system that would make an OCD envious!

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  7. I think we are very similar in our organization except that mine is kept electronic rather than in notebooks. :)

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    1. Electronic would make more sense, but I have this thing for the sound of rustling paper!

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  8. The process you described is exactly like mine! How uncanny. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your notebook idea with different sections. I might try it out on myself! Great post! Very helpful.

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    1. Then JINX...buy ya a coke...next time I'm in Philly!










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  9. Ditto! The characters, main plot and several side plots are already outlined - but only in my head. When I start writing, the other stuff fills in itself, usually with turns I didn't expect.

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    1. I am trying to finish up my latest WIP. Friday, I said it was done. Today? I'm thinking a few chapters need just a few more tweaks. The fill ins never stop!!

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  10. My respect for you has just gone up 10 fold! That is sooo much work. I refuse outlines! Refuse! :)

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    1. LOL. Well thank you. But the outlines for this dizzy chick isn't really work...it's a lifeline!!

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  11. It's really hard to pin down the process. I see from other writers they have the same feelings. The only way I can write a book is to "see" and "hear" the characters. Then I have to know what they want and why they can't have it. From there it's a matter of putting the story down one chunk at a time.

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    1. I couldn't agree more. Those characters do gain a life and a voice of their own that moves the story along. I have outlined many things that get scrapped as the story evolves.

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  12. I write a lot of stuff down and keep a notebook of all my notes. I'm also a plotter and pantser!

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    1. The creative collides with the anal retentive?

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  13. I jot down ideas and then try to work through them. I make notes while editing and then try to incorporate them in.

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  14. I write chapter summaries on a spreadsheet. I still stray from it because I think of new subplots and twists and turns while I draft.

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    1. Spreadsheet. I just like the sound of that! It sounds so smart and technical...I might have to do that. If I use rolls of freezer paper, do I lose points for smartness?

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  15. What a fantastic idea! I've been trying to figure out how to get more organized lately. I may have to try this. I'm a pantser all the way, but I'm wanting to try plotting. We'll see... :) A little of both is good I think.

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    1. I always have big plans of being super organized (like I've read Nora Roberts does the outline, a chart on her wall...then boom...one draft magic!) But I am a little too much of a pantster to be that good, so the notebook keeps my scattered side within some sort of boundary!

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  16. So organised. I'm currently trying to think of a title for my WIP, I can't move on without it... it's my 'thing', titles come first, and it grinds me to a halt without one. I'm working on short story revamps in the hope the title appears soon!

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    1. I'm not so good at titles. I need a title fairy! I have several WIPs that are just called whatever the protagonist's names are. If I waited for the title, I'd never write!

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