Saturday, November 26, 2022

Make Discovery process work for You

 Fellow Discovery Writers (sometimes known as pantsers, a term that does not describe our process and was likely started by outliners)—do not allow the outliners to make you feel less. Your method is as relevant to the struggle of writing a novel as those who sit down and roman numericize (figuratively or literally) to a nice neat plan of story.


Truth bomb: most of us do some discovering and some outlining when it comes right down to it-though usually more one than the other- but for purposes of this blog entry let me just advocate for my brothers and sisters who discover their way to novel writing.


Five points to help you make your Discovery process work for you.


1.     Write the very first draft of your discovery quickly and with a carefree attitude. By this I do not mean take a “let them eat cake” attitude toward your reader or good writing habits. I mean realize that you are finding your way (hence the word discovery) and that you will go wrong here and there. Write that first draft in weeks, not months. Fast and furious.

2.     Realize as you’re writing that first draft that you will go wrong in several. places. Write yourself notes when you’re unsure about plot points. Leave the final decision for the next draft.

3.     Sometimes you may realize you have a choice at a certain point: maybe the character leaves home or maybe she stays thinking to help her mother with her drug habit and leaves later after failing—you’re not sure which way works better. Try both or choose one but leave open the possibility of the other.

4.     In my first drafts, I’m working on what names work for places and people etc.… They often change. That’s OK. Sometimes finding the right names takes a while. Let your people talk to each other. Sometimes hearing their voice, in relation to another voice or voices, can be helpful in learning character.

5.     BE OPEN all the way through your draft. That’s key. But finish. You have to finish. My first drafts are generally around 20-25K because some chapters I’ve written a scene and then described what comes next in the chapter. You’re writing fast so if you get stopped just write that you’re unsure how to finish the chapter—if necessary.

6.     BONUS POINT—one of the realities of discovery writing is that you’ll need more drafts than an outliner. Another reason to make draft 1 short and with many possibilities.  I usually writer three drafts, a revision, and a polish. I can still write a novel in 3-4 months.


Good luck and good writing, 




Friday, November 11, 2022

How Do You Make People Care About Your Characters? It's really pretty simple, really.

There are, as with every aspect of writing, many ways to achieve success in making people care about your characters. You can make them like them by having them do things that your reader approves of or you can make your character get the reader's empathy by having bad things happen to them and then having them find ways to overcome the bad things.  You can make your character active. Readers like characters that try to do things, solve things, stand up when others are sitting down. There are all kinds of ways to create characters that engage readers. Try the above if you haven't.

But I said I was going to make it simple and here is my simple take. And I direct this, in particular, to my fellow discovery writers, those whose process is to discover story, setting, and, yes, character, through the act of writing drafts and not outlines—find your narrators inner voice.

Find your narrator's inner voice. Maybe you will have to overwrite in your first draft a bit for this or maybe you'll have to add in later drafts of your discovery drafts to get the voice down—depending on what kind of writer you are. But what I mean by inner voice is that voice we all have going on in our mind all the time. And when we're not alone, when we're involved in some act,  or reaction, it's still going on. It's at this time, in a scene in a novel, that your characters inner voice will be SHOWING rather than TELLING if they're acting and reacting to what's happening. It's the tone and content of these thoughts that will reveal character.

OK, here's the simple: people will care about almost any character if they get to know that character. We can care about some awful characters (Tony Soprano, think Game of Thrones, etc...) if we get to know them.  We don't have to even really like a character, just find them interesting and understand motivations. Let that inner voice reveal the character. 

Good Writing,