S.G. Browne

Write Like You’re On Vacation

People used to give me books about novel writing by various best-selling authors, in which the authors described how they went about writing their novels.  Some created detailed outlines.  Others plotted out the major points.  Others mined their novels from their subconscious.

I think that one was Stephen King.

While I don’t have anything against outlines or plotting or character sketches or back-story, that just seems too much like work to me to be fun.

Personally, I write like I’m on vacation.

Not a guided tour, where I have everything planned out from my starting point to my ending, with all the hotels and meals and points of interest scheduled and plotted out with no room for flexibility.

That’s not my kind of vacation.  And that’s not how I write.

I prefer to start out with an idea, a scene, an initial destination, then develop a general idea of where and how I want to finish up my vacation.  While I have a few places I definitely want to visit along the way, for the most part, I leave the rest of the trip open for unplanned options.  And it’s always possible that those unplanned options will take me to a final destination that I hadn’t originally planned on.

In other words, I make it up as I go.  I discover the story as I write it.  Which isn’t always the easiest way to go about writing a novel.  It’s easy to get yourself two-thirds of the way through and then realize you hate how the third act is shaping up.  But I’ve just never been a big fan of outlines or plotting on index cards.  So far, it’s served me well.  And it’s a lot more fun figuring things out along the way than knowing exactly where I’m going.

I’m not sure if this somehow transfers over to the reader in some cosmic or synchronous manner, since they’re discovering the story more or less the same way I wrote it.  I don’t know if novels that are outlined or heavily plotted read that way.  But I like to think that it makes for a more adventurous read.

How do you write?

Filed under: The Writing Life — S.G. Browne @ 10:32 pm

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