Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How do you write?

(Remember my previous post where I said I was going to clear my Google Reader feed and start over? Yeah, it didn't happen. My guilt got the best of me and I've skimmed it down to 9. NINE UNREAD POSTS, people. I just high-fived myself...)

I'm working on an outline for a story that I hope will be my 2012 NaNoWriMo. If I can figure out the point, I'll be in business. See, I have all the other stuff. The location, the plot, the turning points, character development, etc. But what I'm missing is the Big Why. As in, why does all of the stuff leading up to this point matter?

Working on this outline got me thinking about where I start and end chapters. In my previous WIPs, I would follow the outline, but my notes weren't so detailed that I knew exactly where one chapter ended and another began.

When it came time to work on edits, I was in trouble. I usually added a new chapter (or four) in the beginning, which left me screwed with my chapters throughout the rest of the document.

So how do you write? Do you write in actual numbered chapters? Or do you use hard returns and come back to it later? Or are you one of those fancy writers who have some formatting thing fired up where it automatically numbers the chapters? If you have that, please let me know what program you're using!


  1. I'm a pantser who occasionally plans ahead. What I end up doing for the most part is just writing the story in one big chunk. Then, when I'm done I go back and figure out chapters. I mean, there are obvious break points around complete scenes, so it isn't a random thing, but I don't really think about chapters in formal terms as I'm writing the first draft. When I revise I look for "cliff hanger -y" endings to scenes that would make a good chapter break and go from there.

    Can't believe you went back and skimmed 1,000 posts. But I guess you're all caught up!!

  2. I'm impressed you went through your Google Reader!
    I outline but with no idea where the chapters will end. I don't divide it up until just before I send it to my publisher.

  3. Congrats on getting it down to 9! :D

    I pants my way through but a few themes or key events will be planned for. My first drafts don't have chapter breaks - I put them in as I edit.

  4. I have a story like that too - have most (but not all) of the plot settings in my mind. It's an MG fantasy, and I was thinking of maybe trying to do NaNo with it...we'll see.

  5. Wow, that was a lot of reading, even if you just glanced at titles or skimmed over stuff.

    I'm a linear pantser, so for chapters I just write until I reach a scene break that's approximately 4000 to 5000 words from my last chapter break and feels right, and then I plunk a chapter header in and keep going. Inevitably these change when I go back to revise and add/remove material. But I like to have them as I'm drafting to give me a sense of my progress. No suggestions on automatically renumbering or anything; I do it all by hand. ;)

    1. Wait--you write all your books by hand???
      Does. Not. Compute.

    2. Haha. No. If I had to write it all by hand I would probably never finish anything, and it would all be crap anyway because I'd get bored at how slow my hand was moving and would stop bothering to put, you know, style into my words.
      But there are some authors who actually do this. Not sure whether to admire them or think they're crazy.

    3. I agree. I LOVE using pen and paper to brainstorm, outline, or think through ideas before I set words to the story. But I could NOT imagine writing an entire book by hand. It makes me even MORE impressed with authors who wrote before typewriters!

  6. I should probably clarify before people think I really rolled through all 1000+ blogs. Most blogs had more than five unread posts. So I scrolled through the two or three most recent, then hit "Mark All As Read" for that blog. It also helped that there were more than 100 entries for one particular blog, so that one I clicked and moved on.

    It took most of the day on Tuesday at work, but it was good. I felt like I was only half cheating. :)

  7. For this novel, I wrote in chapters but I've changed the structure and number of chapters 3 times. :)


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