So, As My Brain Explodes….

This is a question/post for all you writers out there. Be it published, unpublished, experienced, not so experienced. Hey, if you started writing 10 minutes ago, I’d still like to hear from you!

Nutshell #1: For the past few days, I have been working on my protagonist. I posted the other day about how I am having a grand ol’ time amalgamating her mind and mine to really get into the guts of her psyche.

Nutshell #2: I want to get writing! I want to start writing my story!

Ok, you say. So write. What’s the big deal?

The question I want to ask is this: How do you structure your works in progress? When you decide you are going to expand on an idea and write a story do you work on the characters first? Or the plot? Do you write scene by scene? Last chapter first?

I’m trying to find my modus operandi here, and I feel I am struggling just a little. I’m jumping all over the shop. Well, technically my mind is jumping all over the shop. As I write about my protagonist, envisioning how she would react in certain circumstances, all I can think about is writing a scene. Once I start writing a scene, and realise I haven’t developed other characters yet, I sit back and let my confused brain explode…. it will fizzle out until I can pick up from the beginning again.

I guess I need a schedule.

Ok. Another question. Out of experience, which has been your tried and tested writing method? I thought I was a pantser (read: a fly by the seat of your pants writer……. read: NO schedule) but obviously, I’m struggling with that too.

Please throw advice/strategies/anything that has worked for you my way! I would really welcome some techniques, especially if it will keep my brain from exploding….


About Virginia

Writer, reader, crossword puzzler and conspiracy theorist.

8 Responses to “So, As My Brain Explodes….”

  1. When I write, I come up with the main characters, including the antagonist. I create their names, what they look like, and usually what weapons they use, if any.

    After that, I come up with a main problem. What are the main characters trying to stop/solve/fix/prevent?

    Generally, before I even come up with any of these things, I have an idea of the setting/time period, so I don’t have to do too much planning when it comes with that.

    After that, I just write. I write whatever comes to me. Although, I do carry around a notepad with me at all times. Often times while I’m at work or school I come up with plot points or plot twists and write then down so I can integrate them at some point in the story.

    Every writer is different. You just have to find out what works the best for you.

    I hope this helps! Good luck!


  2. Rebecca Stibrany Reply April 24, 2012 at 08:44

    My way is ridiculous. I write a shit-ton of notes and try to find out what the order is. It’s more detective work than writing.

    I’m trying Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Technique right now to give myself more focus. I like it so far.

    But explore different things, play around with them, find what works for you.


  3. I’m a mix between a pantser and a planner. First, I make a very rough outline by writing a synaposis of what I want to happen chapter by chapter. I also have a calendar nearby so I can keep track of my timeline. I figure out who my main characters are, but supporting characters jump out at me whenever the time is right. At that moment, I add them in the story but that doesn’t necessarily mean I know everything about them. Then I just start writing. I don’t get hung up on details when writing the first draft. If you do that, you’ll never finish. As far as the characters go, it takes a while to flesh them out and really get to know who they are, and you won’t know who they are until you start writing them. In fact, when I first start writing and I’m not sure how something is going to go but I have a general idea of what I want, I’ll just type in (fight happens here) or (explain house here) or (someone dies here). And then I write down a few notes to remind myself of what I want to happen in that scene and move on. The most important thing for me is to get the plot and conversation down The details can be worked out later, including emotions, action, etc.


  4. I start with the main characters and the point of the story. Then I write a general outline of what needs to happen to move things along. As I go smaller characters come naturally. I have some scary woods in my book and gypsies just seemed to fit. So then I developed my gypsy characters (they’re actually nice just misunderstood). Then I wrote a detailed outline of what happens with the main characters….so smaller characters naturally came up to help out the main ones. Then I have to name them. I also did alot of world building before I started heavy writing (I write fantasy). Having a detailed outline has really helped me keep on track. I know what needs to get accomplished in each chapter. 🙂


  5. I totally feel your pain! The desire to write can overwhelm the knowledge that I need to know a bit about the characters and their surroundings first. Therefore, I try to think about them at times when it’s impractical to write, like on the bus or laying in bed trying to get to sleep.

    I might also look at maps, YouTube videos, plant and wildlife information – all these things are useful to me as my WIP is set somewhere I’ve never been!

    I’ll also spend some time listening to my character’s voices inside my head before they speak on the page. I think this makes my dialogue very believable.

    I have a few articles of my own on my blog about character and scene setting which might be of use to some!


  6. I’ve been writing for a couple of years now (unpublished) and considered myself a panster…..but, it wasn’t until recently I realised that perhaps I shouldn’t be lol. What I struggle with is endings, I’m useless at them *pouts*

    Sooooo, I’m gunna take Adele Parks advice…,.

    And not even put pen to paper until I have an ending lol. Let’s see if that works 😉

    I have about 50 unfinished stories on my Netbook… this rate, they’re going to end up unfinished. Good luck hon, I hope you find what works for you 🙂



  7. Generally it goes like this: First write down characters/plot notes in physical journal. Let them stew. Add carrots, thyme, basil… Once I have a pretty solid notion of what I am going to write I slop everything into a software program I wrote to help organize everything. This is akin to writing an outline. The thing I like best is the Character sheet. I took the notion from a book titled: The Writers CheckLists for Short Stories (or something along those lines.) and RolePlaying Games. Each major character gets a workup. This gives me an idea of who they are. I build out their physical and mental details here. I also fill in world artifcats, organize chapters a bit. Now that I have the story and characters pretty well outlined I start writing the scenes/chapters. So far I have worked from point a to b. Beginning, Middle, End. No deviation. I will jump back to an ealier point and rework it if necessary. That’s the rough draft, first pass whatever. Once done, I sit it aside for a little bit. Then I start the editing/retooling. Repeat as often as necessary. I like taking a little pause from finishing the draft to editing, because I come at the story in a more objective frame of mind. Errors tend to jump out at me more from there.


  8. Thanks everyone for sharing! So the general consensus is whether youre a pantser or planner, outlining is key. My problem is focus – too many ideas, not enough headspace!


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