I have so many ideas for this column that deciding on what to write first is difficult. What knowledge can be shared, words of wisdom recorded or technics which can be described.
My first thoughts centred on delving directly to how one can identify their style of writing, but I noticed more must be said before we tackled such a subject. I thought of active versus passive, but we need to look at grammar before such a large subject could be handled. So I decided to first look at how to start your work.
There are two technics to writing either a short story or novel, they are called structured and chaos.
Every form of writing starts with an idea. It could be a thought running through your mind or an experience you lived through. Regardless of how you start the foundation of our work, you must decide on how to proceed. Do you start writing with disregard to a written plan, or do you lay down a plan, starting from the basics and outlay each chapter including plot, basic ideas, and characters?
The decision is a personal one you have to make. Each has their own strengths and weakness, with a foundation in traditional and modern literature. Let us look at each form, and discuss both the positive and negatives of each.
Your main idea is first written down, structuring your thoughts first in point form, free form, and sentences. The start of your story begins there.
The outline of the story starts. The main theme of each chapter, along with the basis of what happens is placed in point form. Beneath the points are bullets, structuring the writing, and further notes explaining what will happen. You carry this out for all the chapters, forming the timeline, setting the foundation of your work.
Here is an example of a structured outline for the first chapter of a book:
- John and Bethany are training for their first sparring match – They are fighting convicts
- John faces Bullworth
- Tall, reddish skin, green eyes, heavy muscle clean shaven
- Loin cloth, sandals
- Short sword and dagger
- Trained fighter, but no perfect
- Skinny, brown hair, Blue eyes, lean muscle
- Loincloth, sandals
- Short sword and dagger
- Trained fighter. Perfect
- Fighting scene
I find the structure burned paper, so I refuse to use it (even in this digital age).
The good part of structured writing is every part of your story is laid out for you. The start to finish is ready to be written. All you have to do is now make the narrative, and following the structure you know the pace of the writing will be perfect.
With a structured story, you will have a perfect plan and no excuses for not completing your work according to your plan.
Regardless of your writing method, notes and basis of the story will always need to be recorded. If you fail to record, you are destined to fail.
Chaos involves first recording your idea, the basis and foundation of the work. No outline, no prep work, and no notes besides the outline of the theme. You start writing.
As you write, you will need to record, in one way or another, what you are writing about. The notes will allow you to keep track of what you write, basic information and happenings during the writing. You will be able to refer back to the notes when you need information on the back story.
There are no rules to how you write the story, you just write.
My favorite method, to say the least. It involves a mixture of both methods. The main information on the novel is recorded, and each chapter laid out just before the writing starts. You do not have to actually follow the outline, just use it for information.
It is a growing outline. As you change the writing you update the outline. Keeping a record of what you are doing. Here is the first chapter outline for my next book, The God Drive:
Introduction of Shalain and Jola – POV Shalain – Start off on the observation deck. Explain how FTL looks, gray. Jola and Shalain return to the cabin and have sex. After, she asks about his scars and if he remembers, like she always does. They shower and get ready to drop out of FTL.
Supplemental, 3 years earlier Sept 2nd 2332 – POV Sarah – Interview with John concerning Shalain’s progress. Gives him information Shalain’s progress after surgery. Her dating Jim comes out. Funny gift of dirty playing cards given to Sarah.
As you can see I keep a running outline of what is happening in the story, allowing me to refer back to my notes and make sure information is flowing well. The hybrid also allows me to pull together a novel using any deviation I want to. If during the novel creation phase I decide to throw in a joke, fight or conflict I can. Nothing is stopping me.
The hybrid method of writing is more common than most people would believe. More writers are picking it up, for the creative mind does not always like structure, it like’s chaos and disorder.
The other great thing about hybrid is you can either grow or shrink the work as you see fit.
Now it is not my place to tell you how to write, I would not take that on. You have to decide which way you want to write and give it a try.