I had the pleasure of going on a weekend writer's retreat with my fellow Toronto Romance Writer authors - JK Coi, Leah Braemel, Christing d'Abo and Kimber Chin. Much fun was had, words typed, brains stormed, wine drunk, chocolate consumed...
Over a week later and I'm still reflecting on how different we all worked, how we structure not only our writing time, but how our stories unfold.
While I write this, my son is sitting on the floor doing a puzzle. We usually do them together, me in the lead, so he follows my method: I begin with the four corners, then find all the edge pieces. Once those are in place, I like to sort the pieces by color so that I can quickly identify which part of the puzzle they belong. Then I start filling in the middle.
Left to his own devices, my five year old started from the bottom up.
The bottom up!!
Imagine that. It makes no sense to me, but he's plugging away and by the time I'm finished this post, I'm sure he'll be done.
Back to writing...
My method, what seems to work for me, anyway, is to get the four corners down, so within the rough outline (no, not synopsis... this is more of a mind dump) I identify the hero and heroine, their internal and external conflicts, how it affects them within the framework of the story.
Then I figure out how the hero and heroine meet, a few critical turning points and an ending (or at least a glimmer of an ending). Voila - my frame.
Then I begin - usually with 'Chapter One', but not always! I often write the critical scenes or turning points (the sorting of the colors) then go back and fill in or further flesh out the plot that lead to the critical scenes.
Other writers in the group write in a linear fashion -- from Chapter 1 to The End. Something like what my son is doing with his puzzle (he's finished, btw -- every little Spongebob piece in its perfect place). The beginning to end method makes the most sense, doesn't it? It's logical -- can't argue with that -- but this method doesn't work for me because if I come upon a part I don't know what to do with, I get paralyzed, unable to move past that point. (I know, I know, stubborn like mule.) I feel like I don't have an aim.
I'm strange like this. Y'know how some people go for a walk? "Hey - let's go for a walk, get some fresh air, some exercise."
This isn't me. I need a destination or it seems like a pointless task. Tell me to walk to the mailbox, to the store for a paper, to the closest Tim Hortons for a coffee, and hell ya! The fresh and exercise is a bonus. But just to go for a walk... uh un.
(I get it, btw, why people do, so don't misread this as me being judgemental --It's totally me being strange!!)
What works for you? Are you a corners and border first, a one end to the other, or a grap a piece and see where it fits?