by Marie Lavender
Often during my writing career, I’ve received questions or comments about writing from fellow writers, as well as readers.
How do you come up with your ideas?
How do I write a good love scene?
How can I write better dialogue?
Where should I send my manuscript?
The list goes on. These are all great questions, but no one has the perfect answer. Though you can certainly get some good tips. And in certain cases, you must first make mistakes in order to learn how to improve your own writing.
Then there’s the age-old commentary, “You know, I always wanted to write a book too. It must be nice to have that kind of time on your hands.”
Cue the eye roll. Very funny.
Look, we’re all incredibly busy. But you’ll make time for what you’re passionate about.
So, this message is directed toward the serious writer, who is willing to put in the hard work to get there, no matter how long it takes.
In my opinion, during a writer’s journey, there are two big ‘what’s next’ type of questions:
I have an idea for a book or story. What’s next? How do I get it on the page?
What should I do after my manuscript is written?
These are both great questions. If you’re an unpublished writer, you’re most likely at one part of spectrum, or at least somewhere in the middle. But we all can use a little help now and then.
For this article, I’ll address the first question. No, this isn’t a ‘how to plot your novel’ approach. Yet I will cover a vital piece of information in the development of your first story or novel.
So…you have this awesome idea for a book. You’ve told everyone you know. You think this will be a bestseller! Yay!
Honestly, I’m glad you’re so excited about the story in your head. You’ll be able to quickly turn that passion into a living thing.
Unfortunately, you got stuck at ‘Once upon a time’ or ‘It was a dark and stormy night’. Just some literary humor there. Most of us know we shouldn’t start a book with either one of those. Well, unless you want to use a total cliché. But I digress.
Anyway, you’re floundering around. You have no clue what comes next. How do you start this crazy writing thing?
Believe me, it gets easier. And as they say, practice makes perfect. Or as perfect as possible (no writer is ever totally satisfied with the end product. There’s always a sentence here or there to adjust).
So, this is the most vital piece of information you’ll need before you even begin to outline your story or novel…
You must decide what kind of writer you are.
Now, I bet a few of you are scratching your heads, wondering if Marie truly belongs in a psych ward. Nope, I’m the good kind of crazy. It’s practically a requirement to make it in this industry. So relax.
The most important thing for a #writer is to decide what kind of writer you are. #amwritingClick To Tweet
Back to the topic at hand. Here’s the big question:
Are you a pantster, plotter, or a hybrid?
Let me explain.
- The Pantster – This species is pretty rare. A pantster writer thrives on spontaneity. He or she writes all of the story’s scenes or chapters off-the-cuff. Nothing is planned.
By the time the entire project is finished, this writer is exhausted, but welcomes the big surprise at the end. Yeah, even the author didn’t know what would happen until it was written. You thought only the reader was shocked, right?
- The Plotter – This writer’s middle name is Organization. He or she must plan every moment of the book or story before writing commences. Every detail, every nuance, should be accounted for.
You might even term this writer ‘a control freak’.
- The Hybrid – This writer lives in a balanced world, is content to dip his or her toes in the pond of Writing Randomly, as well as occasionally sinking into the pool of Plotting.
Let’s face it. A hybrid writer experiences the best of both worlds.
Now, in all likelihood, most writers will be either a plotter or a hybrid. But I have encountered a few who were proud to call themselves pantsters. And they crank their writing projects out like maniacs.
I am a hybrid these days. As much as I adore letting the muse flow through me in random spurts, there is a point in a book’s development when I hit a wall and I must resort to plotting the rest of the story. Yet I believe I’m a better writer for it.
Every writer is different. And that’s okay. In the end, you have to do what feels natural to you.
What kind of #writer are you? A Pantster, Plotter, or Hybrid? #writerslifeClick To Tweet
Start writing. Experiment with all three methods. Decide where you fit on the writer scale.
When you’re ready, just ask yourself:
Am I a pantster? Do I prefer to let the muse, the characters take over? When a scene or chapter comes to me, will I release the reigns and sit back, amused, at the journey I am on?
Am I a plotter? Do I need to be in the driver’s seat at all times? Should I control the path my characters take?
Maybe you’re a combination of the two. That’s perfectly all right. For my own writing, I like to keep an open mind, just in case the characters decide to surprise the hell out of me. But see, the only way to find out is to implement these options.
Try writing random scenes or chapters. See where your creativity takes you. Diversely, plot some of the story or book out and then start writing. Which feels more comfortable? Perhaps doing both takes some of the strain off. Challenging yourself to do each method will help you build a tolerance for different writing styles.
Launch into that story. Discover the secrets waiting just around the corner for your characters. And in the process, you’ll learn a little more about yourself as a writer.
Here are a few links to some of my other writer/publishing articles that I hope will help you find your way in this chaotic writing world:
Never ignore the call of the muse. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
About the Author: Marie Lavender is the bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 23 other books. She lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years and has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 24 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several multi-author anthologies. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series, The Blood at First Sight Series and The Code of Endhivar Series.
March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 10 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.
You can check out one of her many blogs here, here, here or here. Check out here book trailer for Upon Your Return right now!
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.
Great tips, Marie! Although I mostly edit for other folks, I find in my own writing I’m a hybrid writer. I have some basic outlines and direction of where I want the story to go, but I let the writing flow (in the spare time I do have) and become its own entity beyond the basic direction of the plot. I’m finding for other types of writing, such as blogs, it helps me to have the main structure and message of what I want to say figured out ahead of time, and then from there I’ll fill in the blanks!
I’ll be sure to check out your other links! I liked the direction you provided here with regards to figuring out just what kind of writer you are.