Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October IWSG & Trying New Things


Hello and Happy October! It's officially my favorite time of the year as I love the period from October through December. So many things to love! Cool temperatures, sweater weather, football, holidays - I could go on and on.

Today is the day for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. The group was founded by our Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. To view list members and this month's co-hosts, visit the IWSG page here.


I'm trying something new with my writing this month and I'm definitely insecure about it, but I also feel like it's the best move for me to make right now.

I've always been a "pantser" when writing and have only made the most basic of outlines. This has worked for me in the past and I loved writing this way. But it's not working now as I'm continuing to struggle with getting my Paris story together. I've been playing with this story for more than two years now and have made so little progress I decided something has to give. This story has significantly more characters and time periods than I have ever attempted to write before and it's become a jumbled mess in my head.

My friend Madeline at The Shellshank Redemption recommended the book Story Genius to me several months ago and I kept meaning to give it a try but never did. I was intimidated by the idea and kept thinking my tried and true "pants" method would eventually kick in and work. Then when I was once again feeling frustrated with my writing I saw another author recommending this same book on Twitter. It seemed like the universe was trying to tell me something!

So I got the book and am now committed to giving it a try, even though I am still intimidated by the idea of totally changing my writing process.

Have you ever changed your writing method to suit a new project? Are there any craft books you recommend?

Happy October, all!





45 comments:

  1. I hope it works for you! You might find outlining is your new thing.

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  2. This is my favorite time of year too!!! I'm a pantser too, and the idea of outlining scares me because I don't know what's going to happen next in my stories. But, in my mystery book, I did somewhat outline (in my head) as to what needed to transpire as I neared the big finale.

    Good Luck, Julie. I hope this new approach will get that story moving.

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    1. Thanks, Cathy. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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  3. I used to be more of a pantser, but have been moving to much more structured approach. I think it's going to save me a lot of rework when it comes to plot holes etc.

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    1. I'm hoping that's what this can help me with as well. Glad to know I'm not the only pantser looking at different methods.

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  4. Sometimes we have to change our writing methods to become better writers. I have a couple of craft books I like. Here's my reviews about them on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/69664009-ronel-janse-van-vuuren?shelf=writing-craft

    I regularly add to it as I read something new :-) Happy IWSG day.

    Ronel visiting on Insecure Writer's Support Group day: Course Correction

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    1. Thanks for the link, Ronel! Great to meet you and I will check out your reviews.

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  5. I so hope it works for you, Julie! I was definitely more of a pantser before, but this book really helped me see the benefits of having a plan, even a loose one. Creativity within context! :)

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  6. You know, when I faced real deadlines for the first time, I had to get my act together. It was the time period when I learned how to plot, and more especially, how to plot in a way that worked for me. Given a deadline, I can now pound out a book in a reasonable amount of time, but it took about two years of tweaking the method and figuring it out. I'm wishing you a smooth process!

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  7. I do hope you share your thoughts of the book. I haven't heard of it but am fearful of what happens when all of my sketched-out books are written. What then? Maybe you have my answer!

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    1. Oh, I will definitely share! It would be unusual for me to ever have an answer for anything LOL but I will see. Maybe this time will be different. :)

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  8. I hope you find a way that works for you. Pantsing can sometimes slow me down, but I haven't found a plotting way that suits me yet. Have a lovely October! :)

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  9. Well, let us know how that book affects your writing. I'd be scared by making a huge change in my process, but since I'm not sure what my process is anymore, I might have to re-think my position.

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  10. Fall weather is a bonus! I wonder when that will start? ;-)

    Loved your comment on my blog: "I wonder if I have to be miserable to write?" There is something to that, I think!

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  11. I could do with this book now I think! Struggling to get into this new manuscript and although I have made a few notes and character outlines I am struggling to see the plot. I feel I may need to become more of a planner too. Good luck and happy writing and planning.

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  12. Hi Julie - yes ... good luck with the new approach - I'm certain it'll lead you in new directions ... cheers Hilary

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  13. Yes, I have been reworking my method this year. I am a panster too. I tend get overwhelmed and shut down with too much planning. I have been pushing through some of that but when I really understood the 5 Point Plots and could identify them in my own writing it has made a difference with moving forward. Happy IWSG Day1 5 Point Plots link https://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting/structure/the-outline/51-plot-five-key-moments/

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  14. The best part about plotting is having some idea of where your story is heading. Outlines don't have to be too limiting, just enough so you have a general idea where you're going. Once you know that, you can pants away all you want.

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  15. I'm a natural pantser as well and trying to outline/plot is so daunting!
    The craft book that has worked best for me so far is Take Off Your Pants! by Libbie Hawker :)

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  16. Change is hard. But if something isn't working then we must change. I haven't read that book. Yet. I hope the method works for you. I'm a pantser but my outline is in my head. I know where I'm going and (usually) how to get there. I guess I mentally plot. LOL Good luck!

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  17. I'm a pantser too and it can be frustrating at times. I love the freedom but you're so right, if there's too much going on, it's mass confusion inside the ol' noggin. Good luck and have fun plotting! Can't wait to hear about your progress!


    Elsie

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  18. Good Luck. I read my share of how-to write manuals as well. They can be inspiring and helpful. And not as you might expect. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  19. Hope it works. I am a hybrid outliner/pantser. I have to know where my story is going. And this time I'm watching word count and pages more closely as I write so that I don't write 10,000 words or more that have to be cut.

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  20. With the trilogy, I had more things to keep track of and ended up making spreadsheets for all of that. I should've made more :)

    But it taught me to think things through a little more before plunging in.

    Like others here, I'm a combination plotter/pantser. So when I started working on my not-quite-ready-to-start-writing-it-book, I found that it was easier for me to think through some of the motivations. And that helped me to know how to move the story forward.

    Basically, my method is to know the beginning, middle, and end. Something about a couple of characters. A very loose plot - maybe. Then I dove in and started writing. Then I let the characters create the story and weave it around the plot points. I don't know if that makes any real sense or not.

    I never see too far ahead with the story, but I always know the ending. Just not what all will happen by the time I get there.

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  21. I read Story Genius. Wrote my latest MG mystery and landed an agent. It works!! I love being a pantser, but outlining and planning has worked better for me this time!

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  22. I am definitely a pantser, but I do get as much background ideas about Worldbuilding, Characterization, and a general sense of where the plot is going. One way I keep that all together is I organize my notes. I don't normally post on blogs to link back to my own, but I just released a course on a new way of organizing your notes by making use of wiki software. You can find more information on http://writing.chrisvotey.com

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  23. I am going to look into story genius. I do a lot of research and I generally know where the story is going, but with no outline. It may help me! Thanks!

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  24. I think I need to read that book. My process isn't working with my current project either.
    Best wishes and thanks for the recommendation!

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  25. I have to have an outline! It makes me feel more organized. More organized = less stressed. I hope it works for you, Julie!

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  26. This would scare me too since I am not one for change...and I hate to admit to that. I have to also admit that this could mean the world and open up a whole new way of writing. As for craft books....I like my card making craft books and magazines

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  27. I tend to be a panster, too. Or used to be. I did change when I decided to write a cozy mystery, because it really required a lot of plot points that I had to keep in place for the unfolding story. I wouldn't say it's made me a plotter for life, but now I tend to combine the two approaches. I sore of plot two or three chapters ahead re: what needs to happen based on what happened, and also based on the ending I have in mind.

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  28. It's always good to stretch our creative muscles by trying new things.
    Hope the Paris book is moving along, Julie?!

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  29. I usually plot but what I've been working on for the past two years has had more spontaneous moments. I don't think it's working though.

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  30. Good but scary trying new things sometimes. It can jolt you out of the doldrums, though, if you're really stuck.

    And, hey, we're both writing stories set in Paris! Mine is set in 1909, and I'm finding the research OVERWHELMING. It has really put a kink in my progress too. Hang in there. We'll both muddle through. Just keep throwing trouble at the protagonist and she'll respond. :)

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  31. Trying something new can be scary, but sometimes it's the best way to grow. I've challenged myself to write in different styles and genres that I'm not comfortable with to help me hone my skills. In some ways it has affected my process, but the results have been nothing but good. I wish you all the best with your trials and practice of a new-to-you process.

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  32. Sorry to hear you've been struggling so much with your Paris story, and that the pantsing method just isn't clicking for it. Just looked up Story Genius online, and it sounds so fascinating. Hope it ends up being a helpful resource for you!

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  33. After pantsing my first book, I vowed never, ever to do that again. So I did all my research for the second and it turned out much better. But I still ended up adding plot twists for months and wondering if the storyline got better or worse because of it. So now I'd like to both do the technical/background research and plot things more carefully.

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  34. I totally feel you! This is the first time I'm trying to plan things before diving in too. I hope it works out well for you!

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  35. Hi, Julie!

    I am like you... and go with the flow. BUT when a work that is complicated with lots of characters and scenes, I tend to do outlines and group things together just to keep the flow. No once can remember EVERY detail of EVERY character's life.

    Good luck with your WIP! I hope it's cooler by you. We are in Summer weather again. ugh!

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  36. I do modify my process a bit, but I've always been a plotter. Story Genius clicked for me, though I've yet to write out the process in-depth.

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  37. Change can be good, and we can learn so much by trying something different. I usually plot my books, but lately I've been finding some stories want to be pantsed (I don't think that's a word). lol And other stories like a little of both methods. Whatever works, right?

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  38. Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year too! :)

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Thank you for your comments!