Saturday, July 21, 2012

Write First, Plan Later - Plan First, Write Later

Do you write first, then plan later, or plan first, and write later? I am a pantser - I write first, by the seat of my pants, then go back and pull things together. Oh - I have my Bible - a written out guideline for each of my characters that paints the picture of what they look like, what they have accomplished, where they went to school,where they live, where they work, what makes them tick. Without that, it would be all too easy to get off track, or worse, to get them confused! And I do have a general direction that I want my story to go in. I just allow my characters to write it.

I write whatever my characters want to write. And I let it flow, even when I know that I am going to have to research a detail to make sure that my character was right. I tend to do a lot of research on designer cloths, as some of my characters have the larger view of life. I write until I stop. I don't edit as I go along, I don;t check spelling or punctuation - I write! Then I go back and read my story back to myself. Does it sound believable? Does it move well? If it doesn't sound right, or doesn't move well, I may change a word or two. I eventually want this story to sell, after all!

Sometimes I note that I am using a word or phrase with too great a frequency. I try to change what I can, but if I cannot come up with something, I will check a Thesaurus. I try not to get too clever, though. I want the words that I choose to fit into the story, and not take on an unintended life of their own! At times I will take a phrase, or even a sentence or two out. Sometimes even a whole paragraph, if it just isn't working. If it is truly bad, I will just delete it. No harm, no foul. If it sounds good, but just doesn't work with this story, I may save it in a file. I never know when I might need it!

Make sure that you are using the right words for your story. They have to match the story, and they have to move it forward. If they are weighing it down, they need to go. To know in your heart what good writing is, go read some good authors. Look at how their words flow, at the choices they made, and at how those choices affect you the reader.

Here's to the awesome art of storytelling!

(c) July 2012 Bonnie Cehovet


  1. I took a course on confession writing and they had a story outline, so I got used to using it. It's been many years since I wrote a full length story so I don't remember exactly how I created it. I'm sure my characters talked through me and I know I just let the words flow - sometimes way too many of them.

    Nice article, thanks :)


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