I don’t know about anyone else’s process, but I’m a pantser, so when I start writing a new novel, I have a few ideas about where it’s going, but it’s not all planned out by any means. That includes the characters. Generally I will start with a few bullet points of the action, the twists and turns of the story, but the characters often are close to a blank slate at the first. They always evolve as I write, some faster than others. And they very often surprise me.
A while back I read Stephen King’s On Writing (yes, I know, I’m probably the last person on the planet to read it), and he talked quite a bit about being true to the characters. At one point, he described his process like this: Continue reading “Writing Fiction: To Thine Own Character Be True”
Most of us know that memory can be a slippery, elusive thing. Ask any small group to describe the same incident and each one will recall it differently.
Many of you may be familiar with a common game played during training sessions in the workplace. The first person in the circle is given a scenario and told to whisper it word for word to the person next to them. Each person then passes it on to the next. The last one repeats it aloud. When it is compared to the original it inevitably differs, often in many ways, in spite of the instruction to repeat it word for word. Continue reading “Using Memories to Shape Our Characters”
The idea of formulas in writing always makes my nose wrinkle. Because to me, formula means repetition…and repetition in writing could very well lead to boredom. Have you ever had that? Followed an author you’ve loved for years only to find that by their tenth or fifteenth book you can finish it for them, because you already know how they roll and what they’re going to do with their characters?
That always frustrates me, and as a writer I have tried my very best not to fall into this trap. That’s partly why I write in a variety of genres. I never want to be thought of as the author who regurgitates the same old stuff.
But the truth is…there are formulas in writing and whether we like that fact or not, we must accept it, because the right formula can make for a brilliant book, just like the wrong formula can make for pages of drivel.
So, what is the right formula? Continue reading “Do You Write With a Formula?”
I would guess that most readers don’t really want to analyze the stories they read; they just want to sink into them and enjoy them. I don’t know anyone who deliberately chooses a book based on whether it’s a plot-based story or a character-based story. So what’s the difference and why does it matter? Continue reading “Plot-Driven vs. Character-Driven Stories”