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I Wish More People Would Share Their Process (2 Viewers)

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
It's just a general observation. When I post threads up, particularly in this section, I like to put my process out there in all its rawness. For instance, in my 'I want to give the farmhouse personality' thread, I try to adjust as I go and often put down my thoughts while I'm doing it. For a beginner, that's invaluable for two reasons. One, it gives them ideas on how to think through problems and two, it shows everyone is in the same boat. We're all beginners when faced with a blank page, it's becoming a finisher that matters.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Board Moderator
"My process" is usually in development and is often changing. I've heard that for a lot of writers the process will change from project to project.

This is another thing I don't ruminate over. I'm busy trying to figure out what works and then trying to make progress.

Process depends on your personality and background; no one alive fits neatly and exclusively into any sort of boxed persona. A writing process is definitely not a once size fits all procedure.

At a base level, tell us whether you prefer planning many things in advance or just charge into the breach. Even within plotter / pantster categories there is a very wide spectrum of shades.

A wild life (and the consequences thereof) makes hesitate before making decisions; I think and consider the cost before jumping into anything. I also worked as an engineer - and we don't wing it with anything.

My advice to those that wonder how to start, and more importantly finish a novel, is to start with a loose plot. This is basically just a quick sketch of the characters and where they will start and finish - which includes a vague plot. Write your first novel with that.

THEN - and this is most important - when it's complete, go back and figure out what worked and what didn't. If you hated and felt confined by your plot, then don't do that again, on the other hand, if you liked the plot but your writing struggled here and there and your first draft was riddled with plot holes, then make a more detailed plot next time.

It's a continuous process of improvement.
 

Cephus

Senior Member
All processes are inherently under construction. Even as long as I've been doing this, I probably tweak something minor with every single book I write. Processes are also very individual. What works for one writer might not work for another. It's all good so long as it gets you where you want to go. It's when it doesn't that people need to re-evaluate and I find that a lot of people are stuck on process and not on goals.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
It's not really like driving a car or playing football, there is not a way of doing writing that people follow. Process starts with an idea, like the story 'A family business' I just put up on my YouTube channel. I had an idea for a wave machine and made one and it worked, then I thought 'How could it be used?'. Well the big boys wouldn't want it, too invested in ships, who could?
If the idea is good you can get away with an awful lot writing wise, like, 'Let's make the undead vampire sexy and sympathetic and have the heroine fall for him.' Critics almost universally panned 'Twilight' as bad writing, but a large number of readers bought it and enjoyed it.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
If anyone is open-minded to craft books then this one will help you accept that some are useful. I'll post one exercise, but I might use its exercises as a writing process. It is number 400 ranked in us sales on amazon. The best part is by posting this exercise you will get different results than me.

Make a list of ten things that bother you the most about other people. For instance this might include selfishness, greed, rudeness, and arrogance (Do that before reading on). (He means it)

Have you made the list? If so, now consider whether this might be qualities you most dislike in yourself. Can think of times when you exhibited any of the ones you listed? Psychologists say that it's quite common for us to dislike in others the negative qualities we fear we have ourselves.

Now conjure up a character who embodies a number of these traits. What would they be like? What story might feature such a person? Would this person make a good antagonist, if not a fully fledged villain for your story?

Also, consider the negative aspects of the personality of your protagonist. Would it humanize them if these came out more? Are they something your character struggles with and perhaps finds a hindrance to get what they want or need?

Book source: Your creative writing masterclass by Jurgen Wolff (featuring austen, checkov, Dickens, Hemingway, Nabakov, Vonnegut). I dug it up from a chest in a dusty room after I tried to finish reading one of my craft books today. This is the best book in my collection I think or humbly believe (what I think as a result of owning many; (+300 books on craft and counting).
 
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robertn51

Senior Member
I Wish More People Would Share Their Process

It's an interesting idea, but I am not sure it translates well into a threaded discussion format. Maybe if one closed the thread and simply blogged out daily reports. But then there I've said it, right? Maybe use one's Blog for things like this?

What does the intimate, multi-viewpoint, over-the-shoulder interface add to one's process?

I, for one, would find ongoing dialogue about things-in-work extremely distracting, especially if I were shoveling through some difficult bits, trying to weave a coherent narrative into constraints of Theme and Style. When the going gets tough, this lightweight will find himself leaning towards dropping the keys and heading for the Tavern to chatter about simpler things, like politics. For me, for keeping me on task and track, solitude is best.

But that's me, and that's in the first spew and the followup first drafting, etc.

There might come a point where I'd let others participate. But that would be only with a firm Plot statement, showing the story's complete arc. And from there I want to have down in concrete the several facets of fictioning: Character sketches, Setting(s), Style decision, Point of View decision, Theme decision, Devices needed, and a few Key Scene sketches with their settings and all their goes-intas and goes-outtas.

Once those Fictioning Things were down in concrete and available to all participants, I've the beast fairly surrounded and observers can interact with the story-in-process. They will explicitly know the constraints and thus know what can be toyed with and what mustn't be touched. (That is: It is my story, please?)

All that is for the Type A story where I'm certain where I'm headed and am building-out the how.

The Type B story, where I'm curious and diddling and willing to keep the Fictioning Things loose and pliable and subject to eruption and scraping off the wheel and starting over, there I'd not want other's eyes and minds involved. I feel I'd be wasting everyone's time and invested attention. Including my own. And I'd also be acutely aware I'm standing naked on the dias. And this isn't performance, isn't jazz where we riff off each others' improvisations. Or worse, "battle"; that's for Slam.

I've been following things over in the Workshop, following the open-air reveal of your "Apparition." And I was so pleased to finally see a consolidated post (#46, on page 5 of the thread) of the entire work-in-progress, rather than glimpses of the many shards along the discussions. Having it all together really helped me see the piece as a coherent whole. The threads are interesting, but the woven cloth immensely more so. I read all 7000+ words of it and made notes, etc.

But without a visible Plot statement, and without reference to the rest of the Fictioning Things, I am not comfortable interacting with the process. It's your story and I do not want to go heedlessly tromping through it. I'd be a locoweed-spiked jackass.

That brings me to this: Where are we within your process?

I sense the story is completely written; the given beginning details require a resolutely fixed ending.

But we aren't seeing it.

Is there a reason the end is being withheld from view?

(I can imply an ending from the story so far and some details in the beginning -- and have some comments about that -- but this isn't my story and I don't want to guess at any part of it.)

I know, as an innocent reader, I'd rather not have a piece's ending spoilt. And as that reader I'm ok with a serialized reveal. (It does add to my reading time, having to re-read some of that to-be-much-over 7000+ words whenever there's a mid-stream change.)

But as put out there now, I'm also invited to be part of the construction, so I am beyond mere innocent reading and perfectly fine with knowing things ahead. Deftly fairing things into a known and desired ending is easily half the thrill and terror of writing.

So: Is the story done and we over there in Workshop suggesting polish as the bits are revealed?

And what is being gained by that approach?

[2021-04-13 1105]
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
It's an interesting idea, but I am not sure it translates well into a threaded discussion format. Maybe if one closed the thread and simply blogged out daily reports. But then there I've said it, right? Maybe use one's Blog for things like this?

What does the intimate, multi-viewpoint, over-the-shoulder interface add to one's process?

I, for one, would find ongoing dialogue about things-in-work extremely distracting, especially if I were shoveling through some difficult bits, trying to weave a coherent narrative into constraints of Theme and Style. When the going gets tough, this lightweight will find himself leaning towards dropping the keys and heading for the Tavern to chatter about simpler things, like politics. For me, for keeping me on task and track, solitude is best.

But that's me, and that's in the first spew and the followup first drafting, etc.

There might come a point where I'd let others participate. But that would be only with a firm Plot statement, showing the story's complete arc. And from there I want to have down in concrete the several facets of fictioning: Character sketches, Setting(s), Style decision, Point of View decision, Theme decision, Devices needed, and a few Key Scene sketches with their settings and all their goes-intas and goes-outtas.

Once those Fictioning Things were down in concrete and available to all participants, I've the beast fairly surrounded and observers can interact with the story-in-process. They will explicitly know the constraints and thus know what can be toyed with and what mustn't be touched. (That is: It is my story, please?)

All that is for the Type A story where I'm certain where I'm headed and am building-out the how.

The Type B story, where I'm curious and diddling and willing to keep the Fictioning Things loose and pliable and subject to eruption and scraping off the wheel and starting over, there I'd not want other's eyes and minds involved. I feel I'd be wasting everyone's time and invested attention. Including my own. And I'd also be acutely aware I'm standing naked on the dias. And this isn't performance, isn't jazz where we riff off each others' improvisations. Or worse, "battle"; that's for Slam.

I've been following things over in the Workshop, following the open-air reveal of your "Apparition." And I was so pleased to finally see a consolidated post (#46, on page 5 of the thread) of the entire work-in-progress, rather than glimpses of the many shards along the discussions. Having it all together really helped me see the piece as a coherent whole. The threads are interesting, but the woven cloth immensely more so. I read all 7000+ words of it and made notes, etc.

But without a visible Plot statement, and without reference to the rest of the Fictioning Things, I am not comfortable interacting with the process. It's your story and I do not want to go heedlessly tromping through it. I'd be a locoweed-spiked jackass.

That brings me to this: Where are we within your process?

I sense the story is completely written; the given beginning details require a resolutely fixed ending.

But we aren't seeing it.

Is there a reason the end is being withheld from view?

(I can imply an ending from the story so far and some details in the beginning -- and have some comments about that -- but this isn't my story and I don't want to guess at any part of it.)

I know, as an innocent reader, I'd rather not have a piece's ending spoilt. And as that reader I'm ok with a serialized reveal. (It does add to my reading time, having to re-read some of that to-be-much-over 7000+ words whenever there's a mid-stream change.)

But as put out there now, I'm also invited to be part of the construction, so I am beyond mere innocent reading and perfectly fine with knowing things ahead. Deftly fairing things into a known and desired ending is easily half the thrill and terror of writing.

So: Is the story done and we over there in Workshop suggesting polish as the bits are revealed?

And what is being gained by that approach?

[2021-04-13 1105]

That's the thing though, you see, I'm not working on story as such, I'm working on style, pacing, tone, word choice, voice etc. The story, when finished, isn't of any great importance to me right now. It's the journey there I'm interested in and what I learn along the way. I've set myself the goal of starting a novel next Feb and I'm taking a year to hone my skills.

I don't come to writing forums to play my new tunes, I come to writing forums to learn to write those tunes. :)
 

robertn51

Senior Member
I'm not working on story as such, I'm working on style, pacing, tone, word choice, voice etc.

I see!

I hadn't once considered "Apparition" a handy armature upon which various studies were happening.

And it makes sense. It would be difficult to develop studies in all of those things without the supporting frame of at least the mechanics of story's scene, character, etc.

An interesting idea. One for which I might find future use.

Thank you.

[2021-04-13 1425]
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Mentor
It's just a general observation. When I post threads up, particularly in this section, I like to put my process out there in all its rawness. For instance, in my 'I want to give the farmhouse personality' thread, I try to adjust as I go and often put down my thoughts while I'm doing it. For a beginner, that's invaluable for two reasons. One, it gives them ideas on how to think through problems and two, it shows everyone is in the same boat. We're all beginners when faced with a blank page, it's becoming a finisher that matters.


Which process? Writing is a big discipline with many subcomponents. Are you asking about outlining, character development, proofing, or the actual meat & potatoes of writing itself?

PS: For me, they all vary depending on the project. Some books are plotters, others are pantsters. Some require massive research before you write a word...and others I just jump into (after mentally plotting for 9 months.) Also, my techniques have changed over the years as my experience increased. The doubleback process I use nowadays would have been beyond my comprehension back when I wrote my first book.
 

Taylor

Friends of WF
That's the thing though, you see, I'm not working on story as such, I'm working on style, pacing, tone, word choice, voice etc. The story, when finished, isn't of any great importance to me right now. It's the journey there I'm interested in and what I learn along the way. I've set myself the goal of starting a novel next Feb and I'm taking a year to hone my skills.

I don't come to writing forums to play my new tunes, I come to writing forums to learn to write those tunes. :)

I think this is a great approach AZ. And I appreciate learning vicariously, as you post excerpts from your stories and people give great advice. It's useful to see another's journey. Whereas I put up specific issues I struggle with, I'm less inclined to share my novel, pretty much the only thing I'm working on right now.

However, I have seen on other websites, some good ideas for sharing individual journeys of writing a book. On one, I saw that members could start a thread and call it for example: "Taylor's Progress Journal - Novel." So everything I query, or any progress reports on that specific novel are all in one thread and people can follow it, or I could refer back to it to see my journey. (That's something we good consider here on WF.)

Another one is a website that is entirely dedicated to books in WIP. Members set up their book, and they can create a cover with graphics that actually even looks like a real book. Then, each time the author adds a chapter, people can go on and rate or review it. I have spent hours on there just reading other people's WIPs and their reviews. It's a great way to learn.

I'd post the links here, but I'm pretty sure I'm not permitted. But easy enough to find by googling. If WF is okay for me to share, I will.

 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I think this is a great approach AZ. And I appreciate learning vicariously, as you post excerpts from your stories and people give great advice. It's useful to see another's journey. Whereas I put up specific issues I struggle with, I'm less inclined to share my novel, pretty much the only thing I'm working on right now.

However, I have seen on other websites, some good ideas for sharing individual journeys of writing a book. On one, I saw that members could start a thread and call it for example: "Taylor's Progress Journal - Novel." So everything I query, or any progress reports on that specific novel are all in one thread and people can follow it, or I could refer back to it to see my journey. (That's something we good consider here on WF.)

Another one is a website that is entirely dedicated to books in WIP. Members set up their book, and they can create a cover with graphics that actually even looks like a real book. Then, each time the author adds a chapter, people can go on and rate or review it. I have spent hours on there just reading other people's WIPs and their reviews. It's a great way to learn.

I'd post the links here, but I'm pretty sure I'm not permitted. But easy enough to find by googling. If WF is okay for me to share, I will.


You could just write short stories and get feedback on those. Then you can apply the feedback on those to your novel. Similar to what I'm doing, except I haven't started the novel yet.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
I work by building up. First, I tell the story and show a little. Then I gradually replace narration with sensory images. The result, hopefully, is a story told mostly by sensory "images."

When I write scenes with lots of dialogue, first, I sometimes write a "transcript." Then I bring out the virtual characters and make them say their lines.
 

Taylor

Friends of WF
You could just write short stories and get feedback on those. Then you can apply the feedback on those to your novel. Similar to what I'm doing, except I haven't started the novel yet.

I suppose, but the art of a novel is quite different to that of a short story. I'm not very drawn to writing short stories. I should really push myself...
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I suppose, but the art of a novel is quite different to that of a short story. I'm not very drawn to writing short stories. I should really push myself...

In some ways, yeah, it is different but in many other ways it's the same. You still need to pick stronger words, construct interesting and strong sentences, find a consistency with your voice, and all the other things associated with the nuts and bolts. It may be broader in some regards and have a more complicated plot, but other than that they're pretty similar. The beats still have to hit at the right times.

My only mistake is the shorts I'm writing should actually be much longer. I think there's at least a novella in both The Glass Tulip and MotherHUD and even a novel in Apparition. I can always go back to them later if I feel I want to expand them out.
 

Taylor

Friends of WF
In some ways, yeah, it is different but in many other ways it's the same. You still need to pick stronger words, construct interesting and strong sentences, find a consistency with your voice, and all the other things associated with the nuts and bolts. It may be broader in some regards and have a more complicated plot, but other than that they're pretty similar. The beats still have to hit at the right times.

My only mistake is the shorts I'm writing should actually be much longer. I think there's at least a novella in both The Glass Tulip and MotherHUD and even a novel in Apparition. I can always go back to them later if I feel I want to expand them out.

I was thinking that about Apparition. Especially now that I know the setting. The story of the two artists stepping out of society to be part of a small community and live in a rustic farmhouse would appeal to a lot of people. People like me...
 

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