I've been reading around the blogodrome (blogosophere sounds mundane, so I punched it up a little), and there are a number of authors, agents, and editors that talk about the writing process. This has gotten me to think about my own process. And after a deep (an inch or so), time-consuming (a few Hulu commercial breaks), introspection, I've come to the following conclusions about my writing process.
I am so very different from other authors.
I don't plan and plot things out meticulously. I don't work from a detailed outline. Most times I don't work from an outline. If I do come up with an outline, it's more of a mind map of things I want to remember to include than a complex timeline.
Not only that, but I tend to write, well, oddly. For the most part I proceed chronologically, but there are times when I know there's a scene I want to write, so I write it up, and then gradually catch up to it. I often have no idea how much I need to write to catch up, just that I'll get there eventually. Which brings me to something else. I have no idea how long my books will be. I can't look at the beginning and say "this will be around 80,000 words" or "this one's gotta be around 120,000 words". I'm much more vague with declarations of "this is a long book." Even then I often change the length based on new ideas. Out of nowhere something else will come up, and I'll have to add it into the mix.
I suppose the worst of it is that in writing mysteries (or at least urban fantasy with a heavy mystery element), I have no idea whodunit when I start writing. Oftentimes I don't know what twists and turns there will be. Nor do I even know the ending. I simply start with a premise, usually a "what if this happens," and proceed to use my characters to flesh it out. I try to stick to my characters and use their reactions to move the plot forward. I suppose that the more analytical types might call this "character-driven" but I call it storytelling. I don't really know how to tell a story any other way.
I suppose I'm very disjointed compared to others, but it seems to work for me, and fortunately I've gotten some feedback that there are, at least a few, writers out there with the same (lack) of process that I have. I don't quite know how I made this process work for me. Maybe I'm a "seat of the pants" kind of writer, or perhaps I've written so many college essays that I have internalized certain organizational steps. Either way, I can say it works for me, and I enjoy the freedom it affords me (though I hate going back and adding something in that I think of late in the book).
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