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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's Another Q&A Day

It's Friday - that means it's another Question and Answer Day here at the Wet Noodle Posse! We have one question in the hopper, but feel free to ask questions in the comment section for our Noodlers to answer. We can also discuss what you're planning to read this weekend.

Also, Golden Heart and Rita entries should be in the hands of judges - good luck to all our participants!

Here's our first question: Are you Noodlers very organized in your writing? Do you know everything that's going to happen in your book before you write it or just go by inspiration alone?

There are also two great Noodler books out this month:

The Vanishing Viscountess
by Diane Gaston and A Perfect Stranger by Terry McLaughlin

You can read more about both these great books by clicking here.

Visit Diane at her website - Diane

Terry's at her website by visiting - Terry McLaughlin.



At 8:15 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Are you Noodlers very organized in your writing? Do you know everything that's going to happen in your book before you write it or just go by inspiration alone?

Hahahahahaha. Organized? If you saw my book room you would laugh, too...

But in my writing I do now use a synopsis, although in the days without a contract, I used to just write on the strength of a brief story idea.
My synopsis covers the backstory, the GMC (goal, motivation, conflict of hero and heroine) and the beginning, middle and end of the story, focusing on the romance. So I know that much when I start writing. I don't know what happens in detail; I don't plot out the scenes that I will write.

That said, I'm a linear writer. I don't skip around, write the love scene first or the ending when I'm stuck in the middle or whatever.

I do have some organization in my notes, too. On my computer I keep a list of character names, including descriptions, so I don't change the hero's eye color halfway through or forget what the butler's name is. I don't keep all my research notes in an organized fashion, but I do keep some of them that way--all on the computer

So I suppose you could say I'm semi-organized....

Thanks, Jill, for showing Terry's and my covers again!

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Norah Wilson said...

Diane, you've just described perfectly my process! Sketching out just the high points for your beginning/middle/end leaves lots of room for creativity, yet provides a road map to keep you on track.

And I'm a linear writer, too. I just can't wrap my head around the idea of [Insert Love Scene Here] in a romance. For me, so much turns on that scene. I simply can't move on to the next scene until I get my characters through it and know exactly how the dynamic has changed. And if it hasn't changed, I'd say the love scene didn't belong there or is gratuitous.

And like you, I used to be a total pantser, proceeding on just the story idea. I think I did it that way because I didn't really have a strong understanding of the structure of story. Now that I do, I wouldn't want to go back.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I used to map out each scene of each chapter. But I found that took away some of the excitement, and I often ditched parts of the outline when something wasn't working or through writing out the story I discovered something better. Now, I write the synopsis and start going, and I give myself permission to veer from the synopsis. I guess I'm a hybrid. :)

At 10:27 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

I'm on the flip side of that coin. I like to have as much as possible plotted out. I didn't do my first book that way, and it has a very strange structure. I've also tried writing scenes out of order. Eh...not so good.

The advantages for me of plotting the whole thing are that it helps me make sure I have enough plot points to carry the story. That's key, because I need a lot of plot to hold my writing interest. The other advantage is that even when I don't really feel like writing, I can grind out something because I know what comes next.

None of this means that I don't cut scenes entirely and add completely new stuff as I write. But I think it also helps me with changes, because I can take a look at my outline and see what's going to be affected down the line.

As far as the final product, I don't think one way works particularly better. It's more a matter of what's more fun/comfortable/confidence-building as you write. I do think it's worth trying both ways (says the 50/50 right/left brainer).

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

I have a bunch of scenes with wonderful characters buried in my computer. A scene would hit me, I'd be excited and write it down, and then have no idea where to go next.

I've only finished this one manuscript, and it was with an outline, finally.

And although I think my knowledge of Regency England is solid in generalities, when I discover new specifics in research it can throw my whole outline into disarray. That will improve with experience, I suppose (hope).

I wish I was more organized. My most recent "misplacement" is a list of brainstormed titles, and it's driving me crazy...

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

The answers are very interesting, and well, telling, I think. As we "mature" as writers, are we more likely to become plotters (or some hybrid)?

Since most of you now do a form of plotting, do you sell primarily on proposal before writing the story?

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Patricia: I don't think selling on proposal ever happens to a fiction writer before she's first published. (Unless it's by someone who is already newsworthy).

Once you have a track record, then there's more flexibility. The second book in my contract was sold on an outline, for example. Someone else with more publishing under their belt may have more info on this.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

Can I parrot Diane's laugh? Please?

Let me say, I do know how to be organized. I'm just genetically pre-disposed against it. A recent visit to brothers confirmed that, so I no longer feel so bad about the genetic load I've clearly passed onto my grandkids.

However, when it comes to organizing a story, I can only write if I have outlined the story ahead of time. I've tried "flying into the mist," as Jo Beverley calls it, and I only fly so far before there's a horrible crash. I don't like pain. So I've gone back to outlining.

Outlining gives more freedom to my creativity, I find. Remember, I'm the one who created the original plan, and I'm expanding on it. And it takes me a lot less time to write a story that way.


At 3:29 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Since most of you now do a form of plotting, do you sell primarily on proposal before writing the story?

Patricia, I'd still be "flying into the mist" as Delle quotes Jo Beverley as saying, if I wasn't required to write a proposal. Luckily, my proposal is only a synopsis (which is not hard for me to write) and one chapter.

I have heard of unpublished writers selling on proposal alone, but I think that is the exception to the rule.

When I was unpublished I started sending out proposals before finishing the book. I mean, why not when my experience had been that the proposal stays on an editor's desk for 6 mos. I could finish the book by then. Of course, I sent a proposal to Warner and two weeks later they'd asked for the full. I had to 'fess up. But it worked out because they bought the book when it was finished six months later-that was The Improper Wife.

At 9:06 PM, Blogger doglady said...

While I do have a general story arc / outline in mind when I start a story I am a pantser to a great degree. I am, however, a linear writer. I have to write the whole thing in order or I know I would get very confused. The more time I spend learning from great writers like you ladies, the better my writing / organization skills become. How detailed are your outlines? How much room do you leave for "wiggling about?"

At 6:05 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Doglady: As far as I'm concerned, there's infinite wiggle room in my outline. As pirates say, "It's more of a guideline."

"Great writers"? Mercy. I think I'll refrain from preening until after you've read my book. We're certainly luckier, at the moment. I think we're all learning from each other.

At 9:05 PM, Blogger doglady said...

LOL, Esri! I love the Pirates line. Too funny and a great explanation. Actually your book is on my list, but I have no doubt I will love it! I think you are absolutely right. We are lucky to have this great resource to exchange ideas and just plain old swap "recipes" when it comes to writing.

At 10:26 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

I should have been clearer. I meant now that if you've already sold, are you now able to sell on proposal? I understand why publishers want to know that unpublished writers can finish the book. I also think unpublished writers need to prove that to themselves. It's more work than I thought. I mean not just the first draft, but finishing a polished manuscript.

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I'd say for me with the short stories, yes. I do sell on proposal, or sometimes, since I've delivered what they wanted in the past, they'll ask me to contribute. The first two short stories, though, I had to complete before I sold them to BelleBooks. With the novels, I still have to write the whole novel. I have not as yet sold a longer piece of fiction--but that will change soon. That's the power of positive thinking for you!

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Smoochy love for putting me on your to-buy list, Doglady. Smoochy love to anyone who shells out to give an unknown author a chance. Thank goodness for Kensington's cheapo debut-author price. I'm counting on that.


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