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One way to get writing

By on Mar 24, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

It is much easier to say that writers write than it is for writers to write. A blank page is overwhelming and sometimes the ideas are so unwieldy that the refuse to be corralled long enough to be put on paper (or computer screen). That’s when a writer needs tricks to get things moving along. All good writers have their a few to trot out as they get stuck. Collect as many of these tricks as you can find to have ready as needed.

One of my favorites, especially when I’m tight on time, is the outline. This is not the strict, structured “Roman Numeral I, Capital A” sort we learned back in grade school, although that is the vague framework I use.

I start by listing all the points I want to make in the story regardless of whether they are major or minor. Personally, I like to use a yellow legal pad, but I have done it on the computer screen and on the back of a scrap paper when necessary.  Use whatever you like.  Next, I pick out three or more major points around which the story will be structured. I then group the minor points under those three or four major themes. Sometimes, it’s clear before I even start what the major themes will be. Other times, I figure it out in the midst of the exercise. Do what feels most comfortable to you. This is not fifth grade. You will not be graded. Ms. Pincheon is not going to come along and rip up your paper.

Once I have the themes, I figure out the order. Often, it’s obvious. Sometimes, however, you can shake up the story by moving around the order. Maybe there’s an angle you didn’t see before or a more interesting way to start the story. If you have time, it’s worth exploring. This can be done in your mind if you don’t want to write. You might, however, be surprised at what comes when you write. Sometimes the best ideas come only when words are being formed into sentences. If you don’t like what you see, no biggee – just hit the delete key and try again.


    1 Comment

  1. Sometimes the sketchy outline trick is exactly what I need and use. Generally for me, that comes after some kind of a rough story start has begun and I’m beginning to sense where it might take me.

    Pam Parker

    March 24, 2011

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