Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mysteries behind the Writing Process

“You learn writing by writing.” I have so often heard this phrase and as the days go by, I understand the truths underlying behind it. When I wrote a first draft and completed it last year, it was futile to try and edit it. I didn’t know where to start and how to proceed further. It was because I can never write a book linearly, chronologically. I might be writing about how they had broken up yesterday and then write about how they fell in love today. So, at the end of the first draft, I had these massive bunch of pages that talk about the various scenes in people’s lives. The point of view and voices might change a lot between the scenes too. That’s why, short stories and poetry pretty much fitted me easily. I could hardly wander much there. Even if I did tend to, like the loyal sheep dog herding sheep, my pen would be herded by my stoic left brain to get back into the fence.

Something changed this time around. I started thinking about plotting and structure. My good bunch of NaNoWriMo friends told me plotting was not so bad for a pantser like me. So, after writing about nearly half of the first draft, I took a break to think. NaNoWriMo is just writing – just word count – thinking is not permitted. For 2-3 days, as my WC backlogged, I mulled over my story and then made some index cards. I wrote down a few lines about each scene I had written. Then, I placed them into the three act structure and marked the scenes pivotal to the hero’s journey. Quickly, I realised the scenes that were missing. Along the way, a perfectly thrilling climax showed itself up in my brain. I jotted it all down in more cards and placed them in their right slots. Hey presto, I was holding a cohesive draft in my hand.

I am still a pantser. It was after writing some 25000 words that I found out how the story ended. By the way, I have another early draft done some years ago for which I could never find an ending. So, at times, I shudder when I think what if I hadn’t found an end to this too. Then I remember Stephen King’s advice to keep writing as the characters do have to come out somewhere. Now, for the first time, I have an interconnected organised consistent draft. It still needs tons of editing but that is another story altogether.

Once this story is done, I am going back to those two drafts. They were wonderful tales, close to my heart and I’m going to give it my all to help them see the light of the day. Wish me luck!


  1. Well written piece Archana and good luck with writing. Editing can come later. If we have the words, deleting and or rearranging should not be a problem. I think software like scrivener would help you organize all your scenes as it allows you to write any scene from the story and then it has a nice process to keep it organized. Do check it. I use it a lot. :)

    1. Thanks Usha. I'm going to buy Scrivener. Hearing so much good about it. It's at 50% off for Nanowrimo winners. :)



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