Manuscript Monday #24

Manuscript Monday is a series of blog posts which chronicle the life of my manuscript. It follows the journey I take to turn my week old baby story idea into a fully grown, polished novel. Take the journey with me. 🙂

Writers tend to have a preferred way of drafting a new manuscript. They either wing it, or they plot it. I wrote about this very subject last winter. You can check it out if you like right here.

As I said in that post, I’m a little bit of a winger (otherwise known as a pantser) and a planner (plotter). I do like to have some structure to work from, but really, most of my best writing comes when I just sit down and write about whatever comes to mind.

This new manuscript is no different, except this is the first time I’ve ever tried to write through writer’s block. I don’t really know where this story is headed and when I sit down to write, not much comes to mind. I’m guessing this happens to some of you occasionally, yes?

This week I’ve tried pushing through the drought in a different way.

I’ve mentioned that for my day job, I’m writing a series of non-fiction/ fiction novels for a small business. Is there even such a thing as part fiction, part not?? Anyway, because my ideas need to be approved by the powers that be before I draft, I’ve needed to brainstorm and basically plot this story during the outline process. I need to summarize each chapter of the story. Once that’s approved, I can go ahead and write the first draft.

I’m currently writing the second book in the series so I’m familiar with the process at this point. What I noticed by writing this way is that it is really hard to write the chapter summaries, and very time consuming. But…it is fairly easy to draft. Since I already know what’s going to happen in the chapter, I can basically just write.

I thought this process would eliminate any and all creativity I have. I thought I would hate writing this way. I have to say though, it’s not that bad. In fact (maybe because I have a deadline) as I attempt to summarize the next chapter, staring at the empty screen, I actually force myself to figure out what happens next. And my brain actually listens and comes up with something.

Sometimes what I come up with needs to be changed. The timeline doesn’t make sense or new characters need to be introduced, but in the end, I pretty much have a synopsis of the story before I draft. Then as I draft, the creative stuff is free to come out. I’m less focused on what happens next, and more focused on the manner in which it happens.

I was pretty surprised that I can actually work this way. Deadlines have a way of pushing me to work through problems, I guess. But honestly, I didn’t think it would work for my own middle grade manuscript. I’ve been a winger for most of my previous manuscripts. But since I’ve been struggling with this current MS, I decided to try the whole plotting thing of summarizing the chapters.

And wow. It works! I’ve only plotted a few of the next chapters, but shockingly, I’ve been able to force myself to come up with something. When originally that something was not there. And that’s a really great feeling. Who of us creative types doesn’t love creating something out of nothing?

So in week 24, I’ve forced myself to plot this manuscript one chapter at a time. I have lots more to go of course, but at least it’s progress! I guess what I’m thinking is, if one process doesn’t work for you, try another. Be open minded to a new approach. Each story is unique and maybe the process we use to get it out of our heads needs to be unique too.

Good luck with your manuscript this week. Write a lot. Write a little. Write well. Write whatever you can. Just write! I’m pulling for you. You’ll get it done, and I will too. One week at a time. 🙂

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