The Best Method for Writing Fiction

As you may know, I struggle with my weight and eating carbs. I attend a weekly support group where we are told repeatedly this Golden Rule: The Best Diet is the one that works for you. Writing fiction is much the same. No two writers will agree completely on the right way to write.

For example, one may like complete quiet with no interruptions, a cup of tea to sip, paper and pen for the rough draft, and no internet connections for distractions. Another may need some music in noise-canceling headphones to keep focused, soda, laptop for all drafts, and the internet to look up research as the story progresses.

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And I fall somewhere in the middle of these examples. I like to have the internet available but I do make sure one day a week I am only allowed to go to Google during my writing. I drink coffee and sparkling water, usually eat my yogurt and fruit, and headphones do make focusing better. I don’t listen to music, I like water noises such as rain, rivers, oceans, and the like. One thunderstorm I listened to had me jumping in fright when the thunder rattled the headphones. Not the best for writing but still rather fun.

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Another divide between writers is the way they chart their stories. Plotters do outlines, character sheets, story arcs, and don’t even write one word until they know the ending of the story. Pantsers get an idea and start writing. They do their character sketches while writing the chapters and wait for the characters to tell them where the story is going. The story arc is more organic but it still needs to be there for a good story. The ending also happens when it happens.

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I again fall somewhere between these two. I get an idea, I know my characters, and I start writing. I think about the story when I am not able to write, and soon I need to sketch out the chapters. Now Novel has a great piece on how to create stories that satisfy. Since no two stories are the same, each will have a different structure. My chapter plot points are loose so that as I go on, I can make changes that I learn from my characters.

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Be flexible and learn your own style. Feel free to change your style. Back when I wrote my first Regency romance, I wanted a few scenes that were right out of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. A hero with a younger male friend, a heroine who was widowed but still a virgin because her husband was an old man, a stepdaughter who loved her like a mother, and a kitten. And a reason for the women to be going to London at the same time the men were. And a reason for the women to become stranded and an excuse for the men to come to their rescue. Yeah, all in the strict Regency moral atmosphere. Plus the hero later buys a beautiful gown for the heroine to wear to her first ball at her first season. I had fun writing it but it totally didn’t work for any audiences.

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National Novel Writing Month is not far away, so do a few practice prompts and be ready with a plot and a few character ideas. Good luck with your trip to Story World! Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.

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