Since I wrote the first chapter in a new manuscript today (Whoo Hoo!), I thought I’d answer a question I hear often. Friends, fellow authors, readers, and family regularly ask how I write. One word at a time? That’s not really the answer they’re looking for. Do I use a special computer program? Or do I write with pen and paper? Am I a plotter or panster?
The first question is easy to answer. I use good ‘ol fashioned Microsoft word. Yes, I’ve heard of all those writer programs: final draft, StoryMill, Celtx, Scrivener, yWriter. But I’ve never actually checked them out. As a recovering lawyer, I’m intimately acquainted with Microsoft Word. In fact, we once had a computer geek come to our firm and give a lecture about Word in which it turned out the lawyers knew more about the program than the geek did. True Story. So, yeah, I’ll stick with Word. There’s enough new technology I constantly have to learn. I’m not adding a writing program to that never-ending pile.
I don’t only write with my computer, though. I’m absolutely positively addicted to my notebooks. For each novel I write, I have a journal. The journal contains notes on ideas, lists of characters, and a chapter outline. I also put notes on any research I perform in there as well as ideas for red herrings and plot devices.
The journal I choose must ‘fit’ the book I’m writing as well. I just started a romantic comedy about a woman who is overweight and doesn’t see her own beauty. This is the notebook I chose:
Plotter or pantser is another question I often hear. I’ll admit I didn’t even know what a pantser was the first time this question was posed. Can I just blame that on working in Dutch for the past decade? No? Bummer. Anyway, I find this question hard to answer. Because I’m both. On the one hand, I plot out my mysteries – who’s the bad guy, the red herrings, etc. On the other hand, I always listen to my characters and they often take me in a direction I wasn’t expecting. So sometimes I have to cross out pages in my lovely notebooks and start again.
That’s it. There’s no magic formula to writing. At least I haven’t found one yet! Let me know if you do find it 🙂