Old dog, new trick

I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be.

No, I’m not talking about my diet, but my new approach to writing.

I’ve always started with a character and a situation and let it go from there. Sometimes I had no idea where I was going except for a general concept that by the time I wrote “The End” all conflict would be resolved. There were surprises along the way, but also pitfalls. Characters refused to stay within their boundaries. New scenes occurred to me and I’d put them in the story, only to take them out later because they didn’t fit.

After listening and learning from the wonderful speakers at Carolina Romance Writers, I realized that while there is freedom in being a pantser, I also realized that sometimes my stories strayed so far from the original concept that the result was–well, uneven at best. Yes, I got two books traditionally published that way, but they each took years to write. And rewrite. And rewrite until the story flowed, not lurched , to its conclusion.

I decided I needed to write faster. No detours, pleasant as they may be. So I converted. Plotting it is. So far I have outlined eight chapters. My next step will be to do in-depth character sketches. Only then will I sit down to write Chapter One.

My other change is to set a goal. I’ve not done this before, writing when the mood struck me. Sometimes it didn’t strike for days. Oh ho, you say, no wonder it takes her so long! Yes, I admit it. I get distracted. So I am going to set a goal, either word count or a schedule of X number of hours a day. In other words, make writing a job, not a hobby.

Will this approach work or will I fall back on old habits when I begin to write? And if I do, will having an outline bring me back to task, no matter how alluring a new plot twist looks?

Yes, it’s hard to change. But I stuck to my diet until I reached my goal, and by golly! I think I can do this. I do know I need to write faster and cleaner. I’m hoping this helps.  If any of you plotters out there have suggestions, I’m open to ’em!




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