What Is The Best Method For Writing A Novel? There are outliners, and there are pantsers. If you're neither, what other options are there for you out there?
After many years of not writing, I've wondered if maybe I'm an outliner. I have bought a number of outlining books in order to find out. I also bought two books on the Snowflake Method. I'm currently reading the second of the two.
So, what other writing methods are there out there? I'm looking for parts in all the various methods that work for me, so that I can build my own personal writing method.
Plus, one of the books I've been reading stated that the brain needs to read/see something four times before it soaks in ... and I'm hoping that reading different methods will help my brain to finally comprehend what it is I need in order to make writing work for me. I'm bombarding my brain with information, but using different sources so as not to bore it to tears.
Also ... what writing methods work for you, and which don't? Why does one method work for you, and another method doesn't?
Re: What Is The Best Method For Writing A Novel? I tried onlining - with a detailed outline - twice. And I might be in the middle of a third time right now.
The first was a political novel about exploitation in an underwater setting. It had about 20 chapters. After the outline, I completely abandoned it.
The second was the historical thriller I co-wrote with another author. He wrote the scenes of the male MC, I did the ones for the female MC. They are siblings in the novel. In order for it to work, we had to create a detailed outline.
Writing it was pure torture. I only managed after I gave myself some freedom within the chapters. We did get it published, but it's not been a success (partly because the publishers is a marketing idiot).
What works for me is a very lose outline. I know the beginning, I usually know the ending, and I create adventure and stepping stones in between. I also rely heavily on my writing intuition that often does character development behind my back.
Having said that, my most recent works - the novellas "Dragon Court" and "Betrayal" in the Cloud Lands Saga - take place in the same timeframe but in different regions, so I actually went and created a timeline for both of them. That's the most "outliny" I've gotten in years. And even so I'm shifting events while writing. Yes, I'm sticking to the timeframe, but just exchanged two events because that felt better.
I may be on my way to developing outlines, just so I can write faster... because being really productive is necessary for indie authors.
Re: What Is The Best Method For Writing A Novel? Well, the Snowflake Method is marketed as a little bit outlining with a little bit pantsing ... and then a little bit more outlining with a little bit more pantsing ... and so on and so forth until the book is done. He has his ten steps posted for free on his website. (Link is in my top post.)
I found his method helpful in creating my one-sentence summary, and the five sentence paragraph, so I bought the books hoping they go into greater detail than the webpage. Right now I'm just reading it and jotting down what I want to remember, and then I'll go through it and do the work.
And then I'll move to the outlining books to see if they help me further. As he says, writers have to find the method that works for them, and so I'm reading widely in order to try and do that. I'll keep what works well for me, and toss out what doesn't.
And, like you, I want to try and write fast. Which is why I plan on using the books to outline 3/4 books first, and then go back and write the books one by one. A number of books say to go from writing the first draft of one book into writing the first draft of the second book, and then go back and edit book one, then write the first draft of book three, and then go back and edit book two, and on and on. So, this way I hope to have several books in various stages, and coming out within a few months of each other. Of course, that may not happen, but it's the plan I have in my head.
Oh, have you read any of Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer's books? They wrote three together ... and a short story. He the male hero, she the female heroine. They divided the other characters.
This article is how I discovered them. Since then I've pretty much bought and read all of JC's fiction. And the collaborations. I do plan on reading some of BM's fiction at some point. His 'Atlantis' series for one. I need to dwindle down my huge TBR piles first though.
Re: What Is The Best Method For Writing A Novel? Yeah, I've been aware of the snowflake method for years. It has never really appealed to me as a technique, but I might use it subconsciously. I do discover my worlds by writing them.
Dean Wesley Smith talks about writing fast - he never outlines. He created a rough map, writes and circles back to edit. When he thinks of something he might have missed, he goes to that place immediately and fixes it. He doesn't believe in first, second etc. drafts. He is done with a manuscript when he is done writing - because he edits while he writes. I find I do that a lot, as well, but many, many authors hold editing while writing as anathema.
I just read a blog by Steven Pressfield (because his book "Do the Work" about writing and resistance was plugged for a weekend), and he uses a cull file where he keeps the scenes he cut out from his manuscript. Which is a great idea, btw.
But his cull file always ends up being LARGER than the final manuscript. That means he writes at least double the amount of words necessary for his manuscript despite detailed outlining. I'm shocked, to be honest. This is not writing fast. This is wasteful and non-productive. I will never follow his advice, even if he is praised widely.
Re: What Is The Best Method For Writing A Novel? I found the Snowflake Method webpage years ago and finally gave it a try a couple of years ago. Some parts of it worked fine for me, so I'm hoping the books are of some help as well. I'll take what I can use and then move on to some other method to glean what is of use to me there, until I have a method that works for me.
And then there's that statement I came across that said the brain needs to read/see something four times before it soaks in. So, I've read the SM online, I've printed it out and tried my hand at doing the exercises ... now I'm reading the 'fictional' story version of the method, and then I'll read the serious non-fiction version of the method ... and if my brain doesn't soak any of it up, I'll chuck it and try something else.
Rough map? Hmmmm ... I don't know about that one. I do have an idea about a statement I read online a few months back: The Rule of Three. That has helped spark some ideas. I just need a bit more fuel to get the sparks to ignite into a roaring fire. And off I go in search ... ... ...
Re: What Is The Best Method For Writing A Novel? I have to admit that I avoided "how-to-write" books for over a decade on purpose. I decided I wanted to write instead, and figure out what works for me.
Maybe that was criminal neglect.
But I believe I've written more and gotten better for it, than if I had read all those books and created a hopeless mess of confusion rather than just doing the work.
I would really like to encourage you to WRITE. Write now, write as much as you can, let go of all that theory, make mistakes, edit and correct, but most of all dive into the art.