I recently picked up a copy of Janet Evanovich’s (with Ina Yalof) How I Write – Secrets of a Bestselling Author (2006.) The book is written in question/answer format which makes it a little tough to read (no real continuity) BUT if you can stick with it, it’s filled with tons of good information from a very accomplished (and fellow Granite Stater) writer.
I have yet to go to see an author without someone asking if the writer is a “pantser or plotter” A pantser writes by the seat of their pants and a plotter outlines and plans what they will write (for the record I am a 100% plotter.)
It’s the question everyone wants to know – how do you do that voodoo that you do so well? Read how Janet answers this question in her book:
- Q. How do writers set up their books? Do you outline them first, or do you just have an idea in your head and then spin the tale?
JANET. I have lots of writer friends, and we all have our own system. I know people who make detailed fifty-page outlines before they begin, and I know people who start on page one and just wing it. I’m somewhere in between. I start with the characters. I do a short character sketch for each of my major characters. Next, I pick a location and then I decide what the crime is going to be.
Once I have those elements down, I make a time line of the action. This means that I know the beginning and the end and a bunch of things that will happen along the way. The time line is usually about five pages long. It gives me some plot points and a definite direction. The details come to me as I write. As it turns out, I usually stick to the original outline, but I don’t have it carved in stone. I try to be flexible when I need to be.
How I Write is actually a brilliant little book that has, for the most part, flown under the radar. Sure some of it’s dated, but it’s filled with lots of time-tested little nuggets about the whole writing experience from conception to pitching to selling. It is well worth the read to find out exactly how a bestselling author ticks.
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.