Every writer has their own process. Some writer’s plot before they begin writing their story. They have their outline, complete with character development and plot twists. While others, like myself, fly by the seat of our pants. I start with my main characters, a conflict and resolution and then I jump on in. I have no clue where the story is going to take me and it isn’t until about half way through that I realize how my story might just end. The difficult part in jumping in is not to let the gaps, possible plot twists and random thoughts deter you from getting past the writing stage to the revision stage. How do I do that? I keep a wall of post-its.
Post-its are great little tools that you can stick anywhere and then remove when you are done with them. As I’m writing and an idea pops into my head, I write it down on a post-it and stick it to my wall. I then revisit the post-it during the revision process and once I’m done with it, I just remove it from my wall thereby leaving whatever post-its I have left to get to.
Let me take this one step further. Because I am anal retentive and a bit of a control freak (ok, maybe more than a bit), I use different color post-it to represent different things. Take a look at this image.
This was early on in my writing and my wall has gotten fuller since then. I’m currently using pink post-its for character (i.e. changing a main character’s eye color), blue post-its for specific chapters (i.e. add a particular scene to chapter 6) and yellow post-its for the overall plot items (i.e. remember to add specific idiosyncrasies throughout). Since this image was taken, I’ve added green for revision specific items such as mapping out my characters class schedules and white for random thoughts like maybe changing the point of view of my story.
This, of course, maybe a bit much for you and right now you’re probably thinking I’m a lunatic. I know other writers who keep a running issues list on a piece of paper and then cross them off as they fix the issue. This works as well and at the end of the day it’s all about what works best for you as a writer.
I’ve been thinking a lot about tenses in books lately: past tense vs. present tense. I tend to lean towards past tense when I write. Whether its 1st person or 3rd person, I always see my story being told as a flashback, a memory my main character is reliving. Sometimes I even picture my character as an old person on their porch, rocking in a chair, telling their story to their grandchild. For some reason, I never see my character as living it in the moment. I wonder how other authors come to the conclusion to use present tense versus past tense.
I bring this up because the last three books I’ve read have all been present tense. I sometimes feel like this tense became popular after The Hunger Games. In some cases, there seems to be one book or series that starts a trend or at least brings the trend to the fore front. Harry Potter did it with magic, Twilight with vampires and even Diary of a Wimpy Kid with journal books. So I can’t help but think that Suzanne Collins made this particular tense more popular. I don’t blame writers. With the success of The Hunger Game trilogy, who wouldn’t want to try to hit gold using the same technique? It just makes me ponder.
I know every story is different and I have been known to switch from 3rd person to 1st and back again. Who knows, maybe I will be able to see one of my stories told in the present tense someday.
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