Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Formulas: The Answer or Not? By Diana Flegal

My personality type wants to formulate life for myself and others. Do this and get that response- every time. Neat and tidy. And controllable.

Yet God has taught me, this is not the best way to go about life. Just as we know not to put God in a box, for he will be sure to act differently when we do, we should not formulate our past experiences.

Writers and their techniques will have some similarities with other writers. And some bold distinctions. There is great liberty in writing once you get down the fundamentals. One must first learn the rules of grammar, punctuation, and the particular language you will express yourself in, but from there, ones creative freedom and poetic license can begin.

Julia Cameron, author of ‘The Artist’s Way’ says; “The creative process is a process of surrender and not control. Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise.” Her artistic philosophy is founded on a belief that creativity is bred from self-confidence, personal development, and divine influence (rather than from the human ego).

Simple examples of diversity in writing are: Plotter verses the Pantser. One writer might start with an outline.  Another begins with the story then edits out the extras. James Scott Bell is a strong advocate of doing character journals. Another author recently said he interviews his characters when he needs to further develop them. As a fiction writer, it might be fun for you to try journaling your character. An interview with one of your characters makes for a great blog post as well.   

A nonfiction writer attacks their topic differently than a fiction author. One well published nonfiction author I know uses a spreadsheet, believing it helps her see the big picture in a simple, logical format. I do think nonfiction writing lends itself well to outline preparation, enabling your reader to clearly see the logical progression and development of your thought.  

Don’t be afraid to try out some creative processes recommended by others. Then discard what does not work for you, and keep the new methods that do.

Are you a Pantser or a Plotter? What writing techniques have you tried that worked, or attempted and discarded?

November is National Novel Writing month and many of you participated this year in the 30 day writing experience of Nanowrimo. If so, we would love to hear what expectations you had when you entered, how you did or did not meet them, and what you learned from the experience.


Wendy L. Macdonald said...

Diana, this was my 2nd year completing NaNoWriMo, and I found it easy at the beginning because I had a rough plan to follow. I knew my characters already from a previous mystery, and I knew where they had to go. But I had so much fun making up suspects that I never figured out who the guilty person was within the 50,000 words, so I still need to finish it. Next time I'll plot some more in advance...but only a bit as I seem to be happiest not knowing the ending until really close to the end.

James Scott Bell's writing craft books have all been helpful to me this past year. I've read 4 so far. And I'd like to read his Plot & Structure one again. Like you, he respects there's not necessarily one right way to write.

Blessings ~ Wendy

Diana Flegal said...

Wendy, I appreciate hearing that some prepare a plot outline before they begin the NaNoWriMo. I might want to take a look at that story when you are done. Mysteries are one of my fav reads :-)