The wonderful thing about writing is that the learning never ends. There are always new choices, characters and stories to uncover.
Most authors like to talk about their work, method and muse. There are as many ways to approach writing as there are authors, pretty much. Some say they don’t like to use specific techniques, like charting, storyboards or the Snowflake method. They prefer to write on the fly, rather than to organize and whittle down until they have the majority of the work spread out in a grid.
Both methods, panster and plotter, can work and both can fail, depending on the execution. I think that my job as the writer is to discover the best method that fits the individual story and character. Each story may need a different approach and require some comfort shifting on the part of the author.
Think about it for a moment. Every new story has new characters, plots and settings, so it only makes sense that they would also have a new voice and new approach to reveal the story.
To make this happen, maybe a new method can be beneficial. It’s worth a chance to check if something different than your usual working mode could enhance the project. Seeing the story through a different lens may enhance the story.
For example, in a sleuth story usually we picture an intelligent protagonist like Holmes or Miss Marple, who carefully analyzes the clues. Since these two familiar ghosts, many new characters have been written. The timeless ‘intelligent sleuth‘ has been the model for years. Readers know what to expect: the planted clues, the diversions. It’s a comfort read, written in an organized method of storytelling, the plotting of the clues, and building the suspense for the ultimate reveal. This is done usually while focusing on the character’s intelligence compared to the other characters. It’s all methodical.
But what if instead you use a different technique. Write the story in a rapid action, with twists instead of plots, and a timeline filled with random mishaps that the character has to react against. Switch from a well planned character and plot built up on purpose. Instead of methodically placed clues, allow the story to fall into its place. Try writing a character that reacts to catastrophic incidents. Allow that character to ‘be defined‘ by the rapid writing experience. Maybe you’d end up with a protagonist’s voice more like Jessica Jones. Maybe she’s more than you originally thought she’d be and has super powers. Different method ~ new voice.
Why am I writing about this topic?
While working on my next novel I’m asking these questions. I have a draft two-thirds written. Before completing the draft I’m stepping back to visualize my approach, to see how I can improve the story and character. Maybe a change of the POV? Or more character driven motivation instead of relying on the plot already outlined?
Already I made the decision to change location based on a second look. I’ve changed some of the main character’s backstory as well, which may not be relevant to the story’s action scenes. Yet, it may change her voice and her approach. These are the things I question and want to learn more about before I begin the rewrite.
In the end, I think it’s our characters who will tell us how to reveal the story and what method of writing works best.
So the real question remains – Will we listen to the character?
Keep reading – Keep writing!
Catch this series if you haven’t already watched Jessica Jones
Writing method & techniques: