Writing in the Dark

Writing in the Dark

Traci Kenworth

 

I used to write religiously with an outline as I’ve said on here before but lately, I’ve been “writing in the dark” so to speak. Which is to say, I’ve thrown out my outline with my current project and what I’ve begun to do is to take each chap as one/or several long scenes and jot down notes before writing the chapter. Then I proceed to the next chapter and start the process over again. I’ve discovered a freedom in this type of writing and it’s really opened up the creative doors for me.

Part of why I’ve down so is reading several Stephen King interviews as well as going back over his The Stephen King Companion. He’s admitted he isn’t one for knowing exactly how a story is going to go, but with his writing, “finds what he needs, when he needs it.” I’m paraphrasing here, these aren’t his exact words, but I’ve found this to be true when it comes to my own writing. See, I was having a hard time getting enthused about a wip when I knew what was going to happen down to the ending. Writing this way lately, has multiplied the possibilities.

I’ve found new life in my story, my cps are enthusiastic about it, and it’s turning out to be one of the most complex stories I’ve written. So, it just goes to show, sometimes if you throw all the rules out, you find the will to go on, and what’s more, you’ll soar in your efforts. How about you? Are you an outliner or a pantser or a little of both? Any tips on how to do writing your way that you think might help others?

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22 thoughts on “Writing in the Dark

  1. I pants when I draft, but outline when I rewrite, revise and edit.

    Secret to success: I draft with pen and paper so that I don’t edit to death before it’s time.

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  2. I learned to write the pitch first. It helps me stay focus on the overall story while giving me leeway to get there as I see fit. Great post and I’m glad you found a method that works. There really are no rules. =)

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  3. l like to have a nice balance between an outline and free-write. When I sit down to write a story or a novel, I always know how it begins and ends, but I don’t always know what connects the two. I let the story play out naturally, (though this is admittedly hard to do as it means letting go of all control!).

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  4. I do both. I outline after extensive preplanning, but my outlines allow for a lot of flexibility within the scene. Even now during my revision request edits, things have taken unexpected turns. But that’s because one of my secondary characters wanted more ms time. He was smart, but now that I’m going through the ms again, I’ve put duct tape over his mouth. 😉

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    1. I definitely rein things in when I edit, that’s why I think it’s so freeing to just get the story down, then go back and figure out what goes, what stays, what needs replaced, cut, etc.

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  5. LOVE this. You gotta know the rules before you can break them right?! I’m definitely a pantser. And when I get stuck, it’s because I know I’ve been trying too hard to plan it all out. Good for you for finding your mojo!

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  6. I’m a pantser. Most of what I do is just like you described, I’ll sit down and jot some notes down like a location or something and then just let the characters do their thing. The most I outline are major points–a certain conflict, introduction of a character, etc–but even those aren’t set in stone. If something unexpected happens while I write then so be it. I’m just writing what the characters tell me to. 😉

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  7. I’m a seat-of-the-pantser, definitely. The only outlines I have are of my characters and their histories/connections to each other. There are many paths up the mountain, it’s the one that works for you that counts – sounds like you’ve found a route that works, which is great.

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  8. I’m a big outliner myself, but I’ve been considering a more loose attitude going into my newest project. I’m glad to hear it’s working well for you!

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  9. Writing in the dark was a bit like dating in the dark for me, I liked the concept but the reality of daylight was always waiting behind the door. There was also an issue with accusations and a short prison sentence, because of the hidden torch I had in my pocket, but that’s another story… I used to just go with the flow with my writing, but I plot everything now, chapter timeline, character profiles etc, it helps me stay in control of the plot and concentrate on staying in the moment and staying true to the characters. The main reason is that I just can’t help going off on tangents, and my stories just became far too complicated. I think this is down to the individual writer though, it’s certainly a good idea to trial various styles and methods and then pick the one that suits you. So, by that advice in itself I think you’ve made a good move Traci – just like life, one size does not fit all! Hope the new methods continue to work for you 🙂

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  10. Pantser here. I have a basic idea of how the story will go and then jump around all over when I write. Rarely do I finish a full scene much less a chapter until I have a very rough draft to go off of first. Then I fill in the details. My outlines mostly serve just to see where I need to focus my next write. Great post!

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  11. I am usually a pantser, but this new WIP has me all in knots. Trying to work in historical facts is making me have to plan too much! I’m finding it hard to let my characters have their say in moving the plot forward so I’m a but stuck at the moment. Doing the research is a little like doing homework – something I never liked as a child, and I find I don’t like it much as an adult, either!

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    1. I know what you mean. Research can sometimes be stuffy and unimaginative which I guess is why they don’t want us to put too much of it into the actual writing. To a degree, yes, but not overboard.

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