What is your method/process/routine?

I posted back in October about WHEN you write, but now I’m curious HOW you write?

What works best for me is just STARTING, like a pantser. Then when I get to about the halfway point, I organize what I’ve written so far into a timeline created roughly from the Save the Cat stuff (have you ever noticed how pretty similar it is to the Hero’s Journey, just linear instead of a circle?). I make notes to fill in gaps, and proceed to loosely plot out the second half. It’s so much fun this way.

I get the adventure of starting a new story and experiencing everything firsthand along with the characters … but then afterward I have the benefit of plot organization so that it doesn’t go awry too far. It’s kind of like starting a roadtrip without a map to see where the adventure takes you, then after a bit, consulting the map to see what destinations lie ahead and plotting out the rest of your trip from there. :smiley:

How do you like to go about it?

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My method of writing is to have an outline. I LOVE to outline and all. I tend to write every day. I know, it seems like a lot, but I love writing no matter what. If I don’t write, I tend to read writing articles.

I’m an outliner who tends to use the Save the Cat outline. I take notes with a physical notebook and on MS Word. I’ve just started to use Dabble and new to the community. So using Dabble so far is great.

I love using the Save the Cat, then making character arcs and profiles, scene outlines, and flashback summaries. I tend to want to have everything straight before I start writing. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Welcome to the Dabble community!!

That sounds like an amazing method! I’m sure that level of organization/planning/plotting smooths a lot of things out for you. Another writer on here said they use Dabble for their notes as well, so I followed that idea. I have a “chapter” in my manuscript for notes/ideas/scene snippets. I also have a completely separate manuscript where the chapters are simply random scenes that have come to mind, that could possibly be used elsewhere. I love being able to keep everything in one place (did you know Dabble has an app?).

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I know right. It’s super cool. I love it. I actually got Dabble by winning Nano last year of Nov. 2021.

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WAY TO GO!! Winning Nano is tough!!

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Thanks, it was hard, but I managed to get to 50k in 28 days.

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I’m new to writing and discovered that I am definately a planner. I used to think I was a pantser. However, all my work just kinda fizzled out - until I really looked into plotting and planning.
Now I am a planner…
I have a detailed Dabble Project which is in reality a character profile tool - I use the Enneagram as a tool to make sure I can get deeply into my characters.
I also have a 27 point outline, a 40 chapter outline, a cozy outline, and a save the cat outline - all in one project crossreferenced to make sure I’m targetting the right plot point/incident/sequence/beat (whatever) at the right time.
I’ve really enjoyed getting my characters sorted and the plot sorted. I used NaNo to do that in the end. My plot and plan is now at 20k words …

Now, I’ve got to actually fill in the blanks and write it though - so fingers crossed it all pans out …

And Dabble is such a great tool to achieve all that with …

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How do I write? I haven’t created a new main character in years, but typically that’s what I need to start. Right now my writing is working on my main WIP and writing Alternate Universes for my charcters of my WIP.

I typically need an outline from beginning middle to end otherwise the story will fizzle out. But the outline doesn’t need to be scene to scene. It needs to flesh out the major plot points that way if I get lost down the line I can say okay we need to go here next. My MC and his love like to meander around and get lost.

I have a billion and one different methods I try, but I almost always float back to a highly modified snowflake method to start out all my stories. I am working on consolidating all my WIP notes into one place, and setting up templates to use for world lore and building and I have a general structure to how I write a scene with note cards in Dabble is great.

But I don’t actually hit the scene structure until after I’ve written down the first draft. That’s an edit rewrite that is done because you can’t build a sandcastle without any sand.

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I’m most definitely a plotter. I always have well-defined opening and ending scenes, a well-defined theme, and a general idea of how Act 1 ends, the mid-point of Act 2, and how Act 2 ends and launches into Act 3. So, when I actually sit down and write, it’s basically to get from one milestone to the next.

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The last NaNoWriMo the plan was to write a story a day and by the end of the month, I would stitch those stories together into something that could hold water. I did but they didn’t. I have maybe 5 stories that could be part of a narrative and the rest, well, we aren’t on speaking terms right now. They blame me as the author, I blame the muse as the author, the muse blamed me as the author. We may need counseling to sort it out.

One lesson I am taking away from this is that a novel is a big and often complicated story. I’m now focused upon short stories to learn the fiction craft in faster cycles. I very much admire new fiction writers who can write a first novel that is tight and engaging. I’m not sure what my plan will be this November, depends upon who is talking to who by then I suppose. I do know without my muse its going to be tough.

Christopher

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I don’t have one I go with the flow and write what I think is good enough

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HA! So it’s been a month @Christopher_Shockey . Did you and your muse work it out?

Honestly I’m only getting back to replying because I haven’t written anything in a month. So I haven’t even used Dabble in that amount of time. I’m still trying to figure out when I can write consistently because writing time is something I have to fight so hard for. This last month didn’t allow any writing time at all and I didn’t have the fight in me, either.
What do you write?

@Natalie_Cone thank you for asking and sorry for such a late response. I am working on the second edition of our first book that is due at the end of the month, so all of the fun fantasy work has taken a back seat to the paid writing work. This book will be my last non-fiction I think unless an unforeseen project lands in my lap. In terms of me and my muse, I think we are in counseling and agreeing to continued conversations. Consistent time for the craft is a big challenge for many of us I suspect.

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Just posting an update here … One of the first writing methods I ever came across is the Snowflake Method that Randy Ingermanson came up with. I remember being overwhelmed the first time I tried it, and ditched it.

Years (maybe decades) later, I’m rediscovering it. I’m still halfway through the novel I originally posted about, and had been using the Save the Cat method (basically plot grid method, which is sort of a linear way of planning out individual plot lines in a Hero’s Journey kind of pattern). I’m still stuck.

I bought Randy Ingermanson’s two books about the Snowflake Method and downloaded the free software from his website called Snowflake Pro, where it takes you through each of the steps.

I’m realizing that MY OWN WAY of just jumping into the story like a pantser for a bit, THEN planning it through, THEN working/reworking the manuscript is the best way for me!! :heart::heart:

I have never in my life plotted out a book like I am now, an it is unbelievable how fun and fascinating it is! The story is so much stronger and better than it was. The characters are WAY better planned, and writing is taking on a whole new level of fun that I’ve never experienced.

I’m also using a wordcount tracker app called Writeometer. It used to be something you can download but it’s been taken down. The APK can still be accessed and downloaded, and it works!! It is so motivating to get back to my computer to work.

I’ve also become involved in a local critique group, and they’ve had amazing feedback for what I’ve submitted to them so far.

The Writer’s Life is the best life!!!

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Hi Natalie,

That’s awesome! One of the hardest things when you’re starting out writing, IMO, is learning how your process actually works. I had a lot of opinions about how I thought I worked. And I tried a lot of ways I thought I could work. But I didn’t really know until after I’d tried them, abandoned them, and came back to try them again. (Rude!)

That’s so great that you were able to get ahold of some software that helps you out. I hate when things become deprecated that I rely on!

And congrats on the critique group win, too! Wow, things are certainly going well for you, and we love to see it!

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I don’t post much here, but I thought I’d share. I use an expanded version of Save The Cat, using 3 Acts, 9 Blocks, and 27 Beats as a plot grid.

I have created a generic manuscript as a template, including descriptions and prompts, and just duplicate that template for each new story. I basically go through the prompts from start to finish and keep expanding as the story evolves.

I use the Character section just for basic character bios, but I do use the Notes section extensively for all of my research, using that as a resource when I build out the plot.

I also have another template for the Hero’s Journey plotting method. For the stories that I write, those two methods cover my needs.

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Nice! That’s extremely detailed, and I’m so glad it works for you! Sounds like it’s a cool process, too.

I never answered this because I wasn’t paying attention to the Dabble forums at the time you posted it, and I didn’t want to commit thread necromancy. :thinking: :joy:

I have a similar process to you – pantsing and then planning. I started writing novels because I wanted to share stories from the tabletop roleplaying games I’ve participated in. My wife and I play a homebrew game that emphasizes character interactions and de-emphasizes combat (which is heresy in some corners of the tabletop roleplaying community, but I digress), so it’s more possible than it would normally be as compared to regular D&D.

So I usually come up with a character, noodle around putting her into interesting situations, and sort of do my pantsing that way. Then I take the raw material I’ve come up with, figure out my through line, and take The Monster Novel Structure Workbook by R. B. Fleetwood and impose some structure on it.

Much like you, @Keith_Leonin, I have a template I’ve put together that has the different story beats listed – that method has three acts and twenty-one beats.

I rename the character and notes sections to make one a production journal and one my text graveyard. I like to record how I’m feeling every day as I draft, and I never delete any kind of text, so these are all I need.

I also have a project bible in Excel where I keep my calendar, word count log, finish date calculator, and any extra things I want to keep like pictures for inspiration etc.

(This is what the calendar tab looks like btw)

I’m also writing articles from an in-world newspaper and publishing them via Substack every 6th, 12th, 18th, and 24th of each month. My wife also writes for this, as well. For that one, I just pick a concept and run with it; it’s not hard to write. I do use the same calendar in Excel, but that’s about it, at least for now. The last “article” I wrote was on a hated food critic visiting a restaurant for ghouls after the readers voted for her to go there. She was not amused.

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@Naadlie this is incredibly detailed and fascinating! Thanks for your input. :hugs: I absolutely love that you’re writing articles too! That’s a brilliant way to be immersed in the world. I’m happy to know I’m not the only one with a panting/plotting hybrid way of doing things.

@Keith_Leonin I love the idea of having a template like that. I’ve tried creating my own templates, then tried creating templates based on expert writing advice I’ve read … And I can’t seem to get it right. I can see how it would take a lot of work off the backend of editing and revision! I think using the Hero’s Journey as the baseline is the way to go, too

@Natalie_Cone, Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say! Thanks also for asking the original question. One of the funner things you can do as a writer is talk to other writers about your process. Sometimes you can get new ideas for things to try, too.

For templates, I’m not sure what @Keith_Leonin does/did, but for mine, I had a Scrivener template the author of The Monster Novel Structure Book had put together which I converted to a Dabble document.

Side note, that reminds me that I need to upvote the ability to export the actual Dabble file, so that we can also export the plot grid and such. I can think of a few uses for this, but the most notable one for this conversation is that I’d be able to share the template I converted!