10 May 2010

Tools: How Different Stories Want To Be Written

Have you ever noticed that different stories seem to have different personalities? Not just in terms of subject matter or tone, because obviously that will differ depending on what you're writing about. I mean, rather, the different demands that stories will make of you as you're writing them - the different ways they come out, and the different ways they demand to be written.

Both of my successful NaNo novels so far have required being written in yWriter, a nifty little program that allows you to sort the story via scenes and chapters, and in which you can drag things around and reorder them with great ease.

The Hunter Hunted required a scene-by-scene outline that I typed into Excel, and used as a guide as I wrote the whole story out in Word.

Sanctuary refused any efforts to outline and insisted on being written one-and-a-half spaced in calibri font.

Jesscapades didn't care so much about the font, but needed a full, colour-coded outline in Excel, which was then copied into Word and each scene summary slowly replaced by the actual scene.

Different stories, different personalities, different requirements. Funny how that works.

One of my older stories, which has three plotlines, is insisting that I write the shorter of the plotlines (~20k) out in full first, and then insert it into the appropriate places as I write the rest. Currently, I'm thinking of beginning over on HNOT, and writing out all the scenes from one character's POV first, and then all the scenes from another POV, and so on, and then splicing them all together.

Why is this, do you think? Why do stories take on such a personality as we're writing them?

I think part of it for me is that my 'muse' gets bored easily - and writing every book the same way equates, for her, to boring. So we mix it up, and get different results from different processes - and now I'm really curious to know if other writers write like this, and also if this will continue. Will different stories always want to be written differently, or will I one (elusive) day discover the magic process that just Works for me, and that's how Novels Will Be Written?

You can probably tell I suspect the former ;)

But tell me - am I normal? Do you all write like this too? And what's been your most demanding novel, requiring that you write it in the most complicated way (like upside down hanging from a tree, for example)? I have one story that I can only seem to work on during thunderstorms!

I know. I'm crazy. The least you can do is reassure me that you are too ;) :D


Liana Brooks said...

I don't think it's crazy. I've never thought about how the story gets written before, but I think I've approached each novel differently. With some I play music, some I don't. Some I write or die, some I can't.

As long as you're writing, the how doesn't really matter.

Margaret West said...

You see thats why I never plot too much. The story always elvolves on its own. As they all should!

Merc said...

As if writers are ever normal. ;)

I don't know if I have a different process for each one... I've noticed I need to outline more thoroughly than I once did, to feel prepared.

My current project refuses to have chapters. >.> But other than that, I dunno... nothing special. Except the effort of limiting the amount of Drama one MC is allowed to use. o.O >.>


Inkblot said...

Liana - no, the how doesn't really matter, but it's fun to speculate on! :D Music, yeah. I can't listen to music and write; my writing ends up being whatever mood the music is, and I don't have time/effort to make playlists beforehand :P :D The one exception is my 'concentration music', some sort of weird zen relaxation track that goes for 10 minutes, which I just put on loop. :)

Margaret - I'm slowly learning how to let stories evolve themselves :D Some of mine still need plotting, though. They're too broken to write as they are!! :D

Merc - Yeah, good point. Writing down what the voices in your head say is hardly sane O:) lol @ drama, and it's interesting to note that we're moving in opposite directions - you to planning more, me to planning less. Maybe one day we'll meet in the middle? O:) :D

Ziggazune said...

You're not normal.... but that's beside the point.

Point being, writing is an emotional investment into your characters, and only in this sense do I think Darwin's Law of Evolution really rings true.

As you delve deeper into the characters you're writing about, you 'unlock' their treasure trove of personality bit by bit, slowly yet inevitably.

Maybe I'm just talking nonsense though. I am wont to do that.

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