Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Think About Your Project Before Starting

Sorry for the delay in getting this out today. I tried to play catch up with emails this AM, wrap up some loose ends and then forgot that I had to take my daughter out to the stables for lessons. Anyway, here it is.

Whether or not you are a plotter or a pantster, I cannot stress enough the importance of really thinking through your story before you even start writing. In the last several days, I have worked with several authors that, had we not thought through the project, they would have ended up wasting a lot of time going back over the story, and in some cases, would have had to re-write everything from scratch.

When I talk about thinking out the story, this is not a situation of planning great scenes of coming up with a conflict, this is about character and theme development. You need to decide what story/message you want to tell by the time we finish reading your story. This will control the type of scenes you want to add to your project as well as the type of characters you want to include.

One of the things I often find in submissions are stories that tend to have a real disconnect. In other words, the story heads one direction and then something happens in the middle. This might be the inclusion of a subplot that really doesn't fit, or characters arriving that are out of place.

I have said this before, but think THEME here. Think one storyline and one plot. That becomes your focus and everything else around it must work in unison toward that central goal.



  1. I'm a pantster, a way undisciplined one. I sit down and write, and yes, I have to go back and rewrite -- lots. I find that the more I do that, the deeper I'm able to go. What started as a, say, boy-meets-girl story suddenly isn't that anymore... It's like those optical illusion pictures where, if you focus your eyes just so, a different picture emerges. I haven't figured out a way to find that depth (unless it's contrived, and I still shy away from doing that) without going through the process of write-rewrite-review-rerewrite-rereview... and so, ad infinitum :) Efficient? Maybe not. Effective? Let's wait until my first book is out :)

  2. I'm so glad you said this. I've seen a lot of writing advice that advocates not selling a book on theme--but that doesn't mean you can't think through what you want to say or where you want the plot to go (and the ramifications of that) before starting. It's going to inform your character development, which is going to inform their choices, which is going to inform the plot, anyway.