Monday, March 28, 2016

The Artistic Process of Writing

A popular post from August 2011 

by Heather Moore

Disney/Hyperion editor, Lisa Yoskowitz, says that writing is an artistic process—there is no right or wrong way to write (Writers & Illustrators for Young Readers Conference, June 2011).
In fact, when I started drafting this blog, I changed the font style and font size to what I like to write in. In her June presentation, Lisa continued to discuss various ways of plotting/drafting, which all ultimately end up with the same end result: a book.
Because every writer approaches writing differently, I find it interesting to hear about various methods. Lisa discussed several methods:
1. Character Bible
2. Outlining
3. Storyboard/diagram
4. Dive right in (or most often called “discovery”)
I fit into category #4 when I first start writing a book. As I continue to write, I find myself creating a mini Character Bible, and also jotting down plot ideas at the end of my manuscript. This seems to be the most effective way for me. Bottom line is that we all have our own methods and idiosyncrasies, just like any other artist.
If you’re a hard-core outliner, Lisa cautions writers to make sure the characters are strong, and your voice and pacing excellent. Don’t give your writing so much over to plot, but keep that balance. According to Lisa, as well as many other agents/editors I’ve heard from, she can tell by the first page if she wants to keep reading a manuscript.
Most of the time, all we get is that one page. The best exercise I’ve come up with in order to analyze whether my first pages pop out is to read a series of “first pages” from authors I love or in the genre I’m writing in. This is also a great way to study voice—that ever elusive intangible.
What are your writing methods?


Annette Lyon said...

I use a mixture of pretty all of those methods. I can't entirely discovery write--I need to have an idea for where I'm headed and some major landmarks along the way. But I can't entirely outline, either.

I need to do better with making character Bibles, especially the more I revisit old stories and use the same characters--I do a lot of checking up on wait, how old is her son? What's this person's kid's name? Eye color? Car they drive?

Emily Gray Clawson said...

Heather, I'm a lot like you. I start out discovery writing, although with a pretty good idea of where I want to end up. At that point it's all about discovering the voice of the work. Once I've settled into the voice then I may throw away the first couple of chapters and then I outline a ways, then write a ways, outline, then write until I reach about the 3/4 mark. At that point I have to outline the rest. I also create a character bible as I go.

So fun to hear how others approach the process. My own process continues to evolve the longer I spend writing. I love that evolution!