I never realized it before, but I am suddenly becoming ultra aware of how I function as a writer. Because I wrote my trilogy over such a long time (3 years), it feels like an age since I’ve started a manuscript from scratch. I am learning a lot about myself this time around. It’s made me wonder what other people are like.
How do you function as a writer?
Me? I’m a planner. I plan my little tooshie off until I know the story inside out. It’s start in my head – a spark of an idea – and mulls around in there for a few months. I jot down notes as I go along and the story twists and turns until I keep coming back to the same scenes over and over… these are obviously the ones that work.
I then move into planning mode. I tend to start by revising a good “how to write well” kind of book to get my head in the game, then I get stuck in. I plan every scene, I write chunks of dialogue, I character profile, I research the area. I really take my time here. I find it works best for me.
Then I get to my favourite part… the first draft! Whoop! Bring it on. I jump into this new world and swim around in there for weeks. I love it. I love seeing a story go from bullet point life into paragraphs of emotion, tension, angst, action… I could go on forever here.
Now – this is the part that I have suddenly noticed about myself. I always just thought I wrote the first draft like everybody else, but I don’t. I edit as I go. I am a layer writer.
I write my first chapter or two, depending on how the writing juices are flowing and my time constraints. When I’m away from my computer I mull it over in my head… thinking about what I’ve written, how I’ve made my character’s behave, questioning if it’s true to who they are and how it will effect the rest of the story. I jot down notes, new ideas that will make the story better.
In my next writing session, I start by going back and adding a second layer to those first few chapters, then I move onto the next scene. Next time I write, I do the same thing, add another layer – tweak, refine, adjust – then move on.
I’m not sure if other people work this way. Maybe everyone does and I just don’t know it. I find I can’t actually work any other way and this strategy has some major advantages when I come to the editing process. Because I’ve layered and edited as I’ve gone, I find my next few read-throughs much easier. I don’t often need to make too many changes.
For me, thorough planning and layering work best.
What works best for you?