The Method of Madness, er, I mean, The Madness of Method!

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty obsessed with the methods of other writers. How do they do the things they do? I like to look at hugely bestselling authors, see what they do, and see if I can put some of their practices into effect for my own writing.

One thing I have noticed over the years is that no two writers write entirely alike. You could have two proudly proclaimed plotters, and they could both plot in extremely different ways. One might make detailed charts of her characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts. The other might have a sticky note chart detailing every last sniff her characters make. The same thing with pantsers. Some might start from the beginning and just plow right through the story, beginning to end. Others might start at the beginning, then write the end, then the middle… You get the idea.

The most important thing to take away from this is that everyone writes differently. There are as many writing methods as there are writers. Not only that, but the same writer might use a different method for each story she writes! I’m a pantser who needs a couple of guideposts. But some of my stories were written with not a smidgen of even a note beforehand, others were written with what could almost be described as an outline (though a plotter would shake her head ;)). My current work in progress was written in my favorite way: Start at the beginning, figure out the characters’ GMCs (this is my weak spot, keeping these consistent through the story, so I make sure I do make that chart), then write the end. Not just one end, though, but about three or four until I find the one that captures the essence of the story just perfectly. Then I go back and get the midpoint in there…well, you get the idea. Then after I get the whole draft out, I take a chainsaw to it and make it pretty. On the surface it seems like it is very time consuming, but having tried many methods over the years, I can tell you, really, that as long as the story is being written, it takes about the same amount of time to plot or write by the seat of your pants. Different phases are just balanced differently. Don’t sweat it. There is no WRONG way as long as you end up with a good story at the end.

How about you, reader? Do you have a favorite method of writing that has worked for you? Did it take you a while to develop it, or did you get lucky and just discover it right away?

About Melanie R. Meadors

Melanie R. Meadors is a storyteller, editor, game designer, adventurer, and scientist from central Massachusetts. She's a science writer at The Once and Future Podcast, GeekMom, and at her own website, melaniermeadors.com. If you like what she’s doing here, please support her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/melaniermeadors
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1 Response to The Method of Madness, er, I mean, The Madness of Method!

  1. You’re right, Melanie, writing is totally an individual choice. As for me, my characters begin to make themselves known to me, gradually, in spurts, with time becoming increasingly vociferous, demanding to manifest. Then images emerge, and I connect with a title and open a file for notes. By then I’m under the spell of one “commissioned” to tell a tale.

    As the notes multiply it becomes an urgent need to begin writing the story. Since I continue with the notes at the end I usually have a minimum of 20 pages to then incorporate and further enhance my tale. I must have an ending pretty quickly in the beginning, an ending that will leave the reader breathless, something lovely and poignant, something to take away with them as a little gift.

    Ultimately, I think I write a novel in order to arrive at that ending … 🙂

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