A Yankee and a Southern Belle with very different writing styles
who bonded one day while tweeting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Writer Wednesday: How I Start a WIP

As a writer, the question I get asked the most is ‘Where do you get your ideas?’. And if you’re interested, I answered this question in an older blog post. You can find it HERE.

The second most popular question I am asked is ‘Once you have an idea, where do you begin?’. This question is actually a bit more difficult to answer, but I’ll try. Story ideas come to me all of the time. The trick is being patient enough to wait and see if the idea has legs. What I mean is, some ideas come to me like a butterfly, then flit away just as quickly. Then there are the ones that stick, the heroes who won’t stop talking to me, even at three in the morning, that question that hangs in the air, day and night, that I feel compelled to answer. These are the ideas with legs. The ideas that force me to put pen to paper - or more and more often now, fingers to keyboard – and begin writing. These are the ideas that become my works in progress, or WIPs.

Once I’m ready to begin writing, I….heck, I’d love to tell you that I have a series of questions I ask myself or an outline I’ve worked up, but that’s not how it works for me. You see, I’m what they call a pantser – which means I write by the ‘seat of my pants’. That’s right, I don’t have much more than a title (which I can’t seem to begin without), and my hero and heroine’s name. If the idea came to me in the form of a question, which it sometimes does, then I have a bit more. If it came to me in the form of the hero’s voice in my head, nagging me to get on with it and tell his story, then I may only know how it ends. After all, heroes aren’t always prone to tell you how he got himself in the position he’s in, just how he wants that story to end. LOL

But, if the story idea came to me in the form of the opening scene (which is usually how they come to me) then I don’t know much at all. Maybe just what kind of person the hero/heroine is. And that’s when the fun begins for me, the moment I sit down and just begin typing. Letting the story unfold as it may, discovering the events that take the characters from the opening scene to the happily-ever-after. Yup, I just dive right in. No character sketches, outlines, or blurbs. Not until I’m farther into the story – like half way. For me, knowing too much before I begin spoils the fun. A complete outline before I’ve written a single scene, and I’ve lost the excitement, feel as if I’ve already told the story. Odd, I know, but true.

So that’s how I start a WIP. I get an idea stuck in my head, think on it a bit, then take myself and the voices in my head to my laptop and start writing. Does that make me sound a bit unhinged? Probably. However, I believe on some level all writers are...but that’s a different blog post.






Sarah Grimm
where dangerously sexy & happily-ever-after collide 
Blog / Website

16 comments:

  1. Great post. I'm always interested in how other writers do it. I'm a little of both - panster and plotter. I start with an outline but I have a hard time sticking with it and that's okay. I let the story flow out in the direction it wants and then I adjust the outline. I probably waste time making one:)

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    1. LOL Some days I wish I could have just a little bit of plotter in me, then I wouldn't have those moments where I realize I have no idea where the story is headed.

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    2. I think making an outline is key! Sometimes I don't stick with it because I realize it's not where the story should be headed. But I can't start without a detailed outline. So don't worry about changing your mind, Lisa. I think it's good. It means you are aware of your story and whether your initial ideas are working. :)

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  2. I'm with you Sarah...I MUST have a title before I can begin writing. Actually I usually have a title pop into my head first and then the story spreads out from there.

    Enjoyed your post.

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    1. How cool! That almost never happens to me!

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    2. Sometimes a title comes first but with me, ya never know. LOL

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  3. We could be in the same head when it comes to writing, Sarah. I swear you just wrote MY process start to finish. lol Nice post and I love this new blog site. Very warm and welcoming.

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    1. Thanks, Calisa! It's great having you visit and if I have to share a head, yours is a great head to share! lol

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    2. Y'all are too funny! Love ya both!!

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  4. If I were more of a planner than a stretchy-pantser, then I wouldn't be 30,000 words into the final book of a romantic suspense trilogy and still wondering who the chief villian has been all along... As the author, I should know that. Right?

    Loved your post since it is so like me. I feel time spent outlining and GMCing that bad boy would be better spent writing the dang story. Let the characters lead you.

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    1. Exactly! And as the author, I think most of the time we're the LAST to know. ;-)

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  5. I'm somewhere in between a pantser and a plotter. I like to have a plan going in, even if it's in point form :D

    Congrats on the new great site, ladies!

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    1. Thanks, Karyn! Honestly, there are far too many days I wish I was somewhere in between a plotter and a pantser. As Vonnie pointed out, not knowing who the bad guy is can be a real pain. hehe

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    2. I don't have anything to say to this. I'm getting off and PLOTTING my next story! :D

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  6. I haven't ever managed, so far, to start with a title. I tend to have a vague plot, choose my main characters and off I go. Once I've got a little written, and get a feel for it, I'm training myself to plan a lot more before any more progress is made. Of course, I'd have to add that my current main WIP is a historical so I've just spent weeks doing research before any of the above!

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