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?