Oct 14, 2011

Writerly Saturday: Beginning & Then Some, Pre-NaNoWriMo & Beyond

     Karyn over at the League of Utah Writers: Utah Valley Chapter (meaning here in Provo and round'abouts) wrote an awesome post that I thought was significant to share with you. It's about BEGINNING and MOVING FORWARD in your writing. It's about structure. Sounds beautiful (at least in theory), right?

     Now, every writer goes about their writing differently (just like every story is different), but this plan that Karyn has plotted out seems pretty darn cool.
     You start with your idea (I'll post what Dan Wells has to say about getting ideas, soon) then you expand it. Like a big Hoberman Sphere (and then you stick it on your dog's head and he has no clue what's going on. He looks like a strange astronaut. It's hilarious). You go from a sentence to a few to several to a paragraph to a chapter to a freakin' story! But it's great because it fans out. You've got a beginning sentence, a middle sentence, and an ending sentence. Then you expand...and expand...and expand (in my mind it's like a yoga coach saying this). Anyway, you get the idea. AND DON'T THINK IT HAS TO BE PERFECT. Dude, just write it. Unleash your inner critic later. Much later (like in December after you've completed NaNoWriMo. Or better yet, send that critic packing at least until after New Year's. Enjoy the season, okay?).
So without further ado, here is Karyn's writing help. Give it a shot.
(From Karyn's post)

After getting excited about an idea and/or character, write a sentence that tells the gist of your story.

Expand into three sentences: a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Come up with at least two sentences to describe each, so you will have at least six sentences.

Turn each of the six parts into a paragraph of summary, describing what will happen in each. Just freewrite and embellish as you go.

Read through what you have, some sentences may have turned into several paragraphs as ideas came flooding in, some may have stayed one sentence long. At this point, look through the thing as a whole and decide where logical chapter breaks could come in. Look for points of tension or potential for tension. Divide into chapters, each chapter only a sentence or two that gives an overview of the chapter as a whole. At the end of this, if you find it helpful, you can name each chapter. Otherwise, just keep them numbered.

Double the length of you chapter summaries.

Double again.

You get the idea. At some point you will find that you want to start adding dialogue as it comes to you. You will want to start adding descriptions. You will find yourself writing parts of the story. I like to embellish where it comes to me, and continue only to summarize those parts that aren’t ready to be written yet.

Eventually replace all of your summary with descriptive writing and dialogue, cutting out those things that never worked and reworking where you feel inspired.

I also find this is a great guideline for length. If you know how many chapters you are going to have, you have a rough idea of how many words per chapter you are allowed. If you are doing the NaNoWriMo thing and going for 50,000 words, and you have, say, twenty chapters, you can have 2500 words per chapter.


  1. I LOVE this! I think I am definitely going to try it for NaNoWriMo. Because I have this idea and a few scenes percolating in my head, but I have no idea how to tie them all together.

  2. Great! I'm glad this is good for you. I've started this structure process and it's gone well so far. It's really helped me to get a better hold on my story. Good luck with NanoWriMo! Maybe I'll see you at some of the write-ins in Provo.

  3. Just logged in and saw your comment and followed it to your cute blog! I'm glad the structure thing is helping you. I think having this in place ahead of time has helped me write so much faster. I'm close to 4500 words on day two! Not great words, but hey. Like you said, the editing comes later, right? Hope yours is coming along smashingly as well...


So, what do you think, oh Lovely Reader?

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