There have been so many times that I will read a classic, like something from Jane Austin or Alexandre Dumas, and just think “How did they do it?”
It might be a horrible thing for a writer to admit, but I think if I had been living in those times, I wouldn’t have pursued a writing career. I am not a great writer off the top of my head. I can get a great idea and start to write it, but the book just doesn’t become fabulous until it’s been through at least five revisions. So when I think of Jane Austen writing by hand, I wonder how many drafts she had to write before she sent it to the publisher. (I should also mention here, that I have horrible handwriting and I’m not sure if I would have been able to read all of my own work. Sad, but true!)
So first off, kudos to all those authors that used to write with a quill, pen, and even a typewriter. I’m of a spoiled generation where I get to use my computer with spell check, copy and paste, etc. I really don’t think I could make it happen without these wonderful tools at my disposal!
Anyway, that was a really long rant, but while I was thinking about this, it also brought my mind to a fun question: what kind of writer are you? Everyone has a different writing process. Some have to write an outline of their story before they can start. Others just start writing and see where the story is going to take them.
I’m a little more like the latter, with a small exception. While the story isn’t concrete before I begin typing away on the computer, I do like to have detailed bios of my characters before I begin. For me, the characters are the ones who make the story move along the way it does. Sometimes I’ll have an idea of where the plot is going, but once I get there, I just know that my character wouldn’t do X. Therefore, X won’t lead to Y, then Z. Instead my character would do A, which will take the plot to B, and so on. It’s amazing how many times I have changed my story around just because I feel like my character wouldn’t take a certain action. But it always seems to work better than how I had originally thought it, so I stick with this method.
Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what kind of a writer you are. I know one person that draws a picture of each scene before he begins writing a story. I’m crap at drawing, and so could never adopt that one. However, I do like to write diagrams of the setting so I can better describe it. I don’t usually do that until my first revision. I know another author who embodies the word of organization. She will make an outline, draw pictures of the settings she’s planning to use, has notes of research about the settings, and complete character bios before she ever types the first word of her story. That’s probably the method I would have taken if I was living in the eighteen hundreds.
I should note that most authors are very good at doing research, but a lot of them tend to write as they do research or will write the story first, then do research to make sure it’s as realistic as possible.
Anyway, what is your method? I’d love to hear it!