Results 1 to 28 of 28

Thread: How do YOU write?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Northern Utah
    Posts
    5,885

    How do YOU write?

    How do you write? By "you" I mean You, the reader there at your computer. How do you, personally write?

    Do you have an outline you follow religiously?
    Do you do a rough draft, then rewrite it as you go?
    Do you just start with a general idea then improvise most of it?
    Do you keep notes about your characters likes, dislikes, and so on?
    Do you make floor plans of ships or buildings that are important to the plot?
    Do you make props for reference, like letters that only get mentioned in the actual story?
    How do you know something is good?
    What prompts you to do it?
    Anything else?

    I'm mainly just curious about different people's styles. Oh, and this can be for technical reports, or fiction, or both.
    I'm Not Evil.
    An evil person would do the things that pop into my head.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    16,686

    Re: How do YOU write?

    Write on!

    For me, it's a storyboard, either sketched or in my tiny little mind.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    10,438
    Quote Originally Posted by Tog_ View Post
    How do you write? By "you" I mean You, the reader there at your computer. How do you, personally write?

    Do you have an outline you follow religiously?
    Do you do a rough draft, then rewrite it as you go?
    Do you just start with a general idea then improvise most of it?
    Do you keep notes about your characters likes, dislikes, and so on?
    Do you make floor plans of ships or buildings that are important to the plot?
    Do you make props for reference, like letters that only get mentioned in the actual story?
    How do you know something is good?
    What prompts you to do it?
    Anything else?

    I'm mainly just curious about different people's styles. Oh, and this can be for technical reports, or fiction, or both.
    For business writing, there's a basic framework, drafts go through the boss's hands prior to going anywhere.

    For my personal stuff, I tend to write and revise in situ. The flexibility of word processing has gone a long way towards paring down the number of internal drafts I write, really only going to print when I'm ready for a second opinion.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Posts
    8,831
    I follow Catone´s advice: Rem tenet, verba sequentur [have the argument, words will follow]. That would correspond to line 3.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    4,873
    Indeed it depends on the audience.

    My lyrics, poetry, character sketches, journal entries... all are largely stream of consciousness ramblin beatnik kerouac bukowski blends.

    Posts here or proposals and quotes for business I take more seriously insofar as composition is concerned.
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    29
    Oh, I love to write! The details definitely depend on what kind of writing I am doing. In general though, I tend to think about what I'm going to write throughout the day(s) beforehand, jotting down notes on scraps of paper or in a sketch book, etc, as they come to me. And when it comes down to actually writing it, I don't force it out all at once but go in bursts, editing often. Usually, I end up going in a different direction (creative writing especially) then I started out in, or realize that an argument comes out much better when information is organized a dramatically different way (persuasive, formal writing especially), or even find that I left out something altogether that would make an aspect of what I discuss much clearer (technical writing).
    And once I think I'm done, I read it all through one last time to make sure everything works together correctly.
    The down side is, whenever I re-read it, I can always think of something more to add. So nothing is ever really finished.
    Unfortunately, I never seem to have time to edit what I write on forums

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    1,206
    I write technical documents and reports.
    This is the worst thing about my job. I haven't met an engineer who enjoys writing reports, manual, requirements, etc. These are the minimum requirements for any projects, so you can't get away without documentation.
    Back to your questions, there are well defined structures for say requirements documentation (thanks to the US DOD), the language is impersonal and straight to the point. The only "free" writing I do is forums, e-mails and text messages, there I just jump in and revise as I go along.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    14,315
    On Baut, I:

    - read the post to which I'm going to respond thoroughly enough to understand it

    - research my material

    - organize my thoughts

    - pen my thoughts

    - revise as necessary

    I do business writing (in-house) writing the same way. Technical writing involves a lot more revision.

    Writing for a newspaper? Glugh! Nearly every editor I've come across has been taught this formula from who knows where that they claim both sucks the readers in, then keeps them hanging.

    I know it works, but... but.... Glugh! It's a pain to try to stick to it, and when you finally do, the copy, at least to my logical mind, appears totally out of whack, out of order, not really saying what I want it to say, etc.

    That's why I stopped writing the occasional articles for the local newspaper.

    Now - if I could land a column entitled, Ask the Technical Advisor, I'd be a happy man!

    As for style, usually straightforward, sometimes technical (you're write, mfumbesi, the documentation can be the hardest part, but thanks to hyperlinks and foot/end-notes, it's a lot easier), sometimes creative, sometimes I just get tickled about something, see the irony and let forth. I'd like to think it's funny, but I take comfort in that it's funny to me.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    13,886
    In great pain, but I seem to be a masochist.

    Totally depends in the subject and approach. Technical stuff is so cut-and-dried that the main agony is getting the material together and running it through the condenser, then 15-20 trips through quality control and the Chain of REvision.

    Short stuff like essays in the 1000-2000 word range are done by focussing the idea and writing a core, followed by too much polishing to get it just right.

    I'm about 2/3 through a novel right now. Since it has significant historical elements I spent about six months, off and on, doing background reading. I start with a very general route for the story and see where it will go. Since I don't do it for a living I have the luxury of following the leads as they appear and changing as necessary. One discipline I'm using now is to write the last chapter so that the other end of the hose isn't out there whipping randomly around.

    Dialog is generally easy by comparison. I set up the situation in my mind and take down the words as the characters speak. Descriptive material takes more work, and I often write sections that are closer to scripts, then fill in between the dialog as necessary.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Olympia, WA
    Posts
    27,460
    The first draft of my novels/short stories/poetry is generally longhand. I edit and type at the same time, producing a second draft.

    For my journal entries, I write and research at roughly the same time, digging for the proper information as I decide I need it. I always have the relevant IMDB page up at the same time; it's simpler.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    1,712

    Smile

    I have wanted to write for a while and have not quite captured my writing style yet. Sometimes it is a snap decision to write, other times well thought out running it over and over in my mind for hours, days weeks even. I often forget stuff if it isn't resolved by then.

    On the non-instamatic writing it is rehearsed mentally, meditated on even down to the exact wording of individual sentences and selection of words. And then I sit down to the keyboard and write something completely different. Although I like what I write; what I write is often not what I said, cheers

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    2,944
    How do I write? Hmm ..Let's see...

    If its a personal writing ...like poems occasionally..

    I usually start with what is pop in my mind...and my heart... freestyle...
    I let my mind do the thinking and imagination as I let it flow freely converting it to words then write it.

    Then afterwards, I re-read it again , to check for grammars , spellings or some phrases that needs to revised depends on what I think..

    When writing a office memo/email for ,

    I use block outline ...
    Start it with a greeting , then the Introduction of the subject ..
    Then afterwards the details of the subject , and if there is a need for some attachments , I add it do some summarizing about the attached file.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    13,423
    i rite reely gud.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Northern Utah
    Posts
    5,885
    Thanks for the replies, everyone.

    The main reason I was wondering about this is that I've been doing a lot of writing lately. Sort of fantasy fiction, but I've noticed that very often the story will have a start, three mid points I want to hit and and end, but that's it for a plan. I've had romantic sparks pop up out of the blue. I've had arguments break out between characters that I had no idea felt any hostility towards each other. One that I can't seem to finish has some really good stuff (I think) about the main character and why he's a messed up as he is, non of which was planned. It just came out as I wrote it.

    I was curious about the way others wrote, and if the process was similar to mine.

    The three main styles I write are pure fiction, mystery, and instructional. I don't count mystery as purely fictional, because I feel that the real world has to be accurate in every way. I once read a story where the killer set off the Halon fire suppression system in a climate controlled library, and faked the time of death, by heating the heat detector and a cup of tea with a magnifying glass from outside the room. Both objects were over 20 feet away. I just can't see a the use in a magnifying glass with a 20 foot focal length that isn't in one end of a tube mounted to a clock drive.

    I also draw out the floor plans in a drafting program or "The Sims", as well as make multiple spreadsheets for the character details.

    I do that for pure fiction as well, but I might skip over the details of the setting if it's not something that will matter.

    For me, I can tell I have something worth keeping when I get a little tingle in my stomach. Other times a story will have a part that "clicks" with some other bit in a way that I'd never thought of but fits perfectly.

    For instructional, I tend to write the same way I'd explain it verbally, with lots of examples.

    Again thanks for the replies. It's interesting to see the different paths each person takes.
    I'm Not Evil.
    An evil person would do the things that pop into my head.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    811
    I don't have a writing method because, obviously, I can neither read nor write. A darn shame, really. One of these days I should do something about it.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    165
    I was drawn to this thread because I've been struggling to write an essay for the past week... after several days of staring at the screen for hours on end, typing a few lines, pacing, erasing, and more typing, I've managed to produce, um, almost one page.

    Who was it that said "Writing is easy; all you do is stare at the page until drops of blood appear on your forehead"? Right now I'd be happy for a few drops of blood if it would result in a few pages of material. I envy those of you who can sit down and crank out a few pages whenever the mood strikes you.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    14,547
    I write. Then I turn it upside down and write the rest. And, if it looks like the right write, from both sides now, then I know I'm done with the initial design.

    Right side up:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	write ambigram.gif 
Views:	3 
Size:	1.6 KB 
ID:	6144

    Upside down:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	write ambigram.gif 
Views:	3 
Size:	1.6 KB 
ID:	6144

    Wait, maybe it's vice-versa. Anyway, now it's time to polish.
    0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 ...

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    13,423
    When I struggle with writers block, I know it's time to take a break.

    A person cannot write when uninspired.

    Go for a walk, look at the stars, turn on music that really makes you happy, play with your kid...
    whatever it is that gets you really relaxed.

    THEN- sit back and daydream for a while.

    Then think about the thing you are trying to write. Next thing you know- you will be frantically searching for pen and paper before the brilliance flaming in your brain fades

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    169
    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    When I struggle with writers block, I know it's time to take a break.
    Hm, so that's why you're here as much as I am, if not more...

    As for OP, I used to write a lot lot more than I do now. I used to put in a lot more structure and thought into it. Then I realised I have no attention span tofinish the prose I start writing. Now I mostly write for myself and for the sake of writing, so I do it any way that pops into my head. Last week I spent a night wondering around a town in the country and writing in a notebook. Loads of illustrations, too. It had no structure or plot, just thoughts popping into my head. Then, there was the poem a few weeks ago, written in c++ programming language (don't ask). This is not an approach I'd recomend if you are writing for any purposes other than private use but it does the trick on personal level.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    13,423
    Quote Originally Posted by pilgrim View Post
    Hm, so that's why you're here as much as I am, if not more...
    Yes, as well as a lot of the time I'm working. Other than that, I use BAUT as a more intellectual and healthy distraction- compared to other distractions available on the web.

    However, I think I'm about due for another self imposed ban

    Quote Originally Posted by pilgrim View Post
    As for OP, I used to write a lot lot more than I do now. I used to put in a lot more structure and thought into it. Then I realised I have no attention span to finish the prose I start writing. Now I mostly write for myself and for the sake of writing, so I do it any way that pops into my head. (snip).
    I have written quite a lot and essentially only for myself.
    I used to be a good writer, but with the net and such I seem to have forgotten how...

    So I do a lot of the "Pops into my head."

    And I think, for me, That is the best way. Whether I'm writing a poem, song, prose, essay, thesis or report- I need to have my mind in the right frame or it just won't flow.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Olympia, WA
    Posts
    27,460
    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    When I struggle with writers block, I know it's time to take a break.

    A person cannot write when uninspired.
    This is, for someone trying to make a living at writing, horrible advice. You just keep writing. Even if it's bad. Even if you throw the whole thing out again. You don't let yourself stop, because it's too hard to make yourself start again. That's what second and third drafts are for. (It's also in your best interests to accustom yourself to writing the best you can, if not the most formal you can, at all times. Always care about your spelling and grammar, because not caring is a trap.)
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    13,886
    I second Gillian's advice. Even if you don't write for a living, the discipline of putting words to paper on a regular basis is a good one.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    10,685
    In answer to the OP, referring mainly to writing fiction:

    I used to begin with a science fictional idea, and I'd see where it went. I'd rely on my prose, and any startling, vivid or dreamlike imagery that came to mind, assuming I felt they would fit. This was a haphazard approach but it was occasionally successful - my short story "The Coleridge Bombers" was done this way, and it was my first professional sale (in Digital Dreams, discussed on another thread). I sold a few others to small press magazines, with one or two professional sales thrown in.

    Then I went through a few years in the mid-90s when I hardly wrote anything for fear of appearing naive about subjects that everybody else knows a fair bit about. (Politics, for instance. I know virtually nothing about the subject, despite attempts to learn it. This is one of the reasons I spend a lot of time on a BB where you're not allowed to discuss politics!)

    Then I attended a talk by Christopher Priest where he went on about research. He said one thing which I utterly disagreed with ("research does not inspire ideas") but the rest of it made a lot of sense. In particular, he said to read stories (not necessarily fiction) about a topic rather than getting too hung up on the technical details. (This approach did result in him making a major mistake in The Prestige, i.e. having matter created out of nothing, but hey, no approach is perfect.)

    Also, it's become a whole lot easier these days to do research. For instance, suppose you've never done military service, but your story requires some knowledge about the chain of command, what different ranks can do, and so on. You've got two choices: Either go to the library and find a book on the subject (if they've got one, and if it's not been taken out), or you rewrite the story so that the military play a very minor, and vaguely described, role: "A man in army uniform came into the room." Now, of course, you can look up "chain of command" on Wikipedia and get something useful in 5 seconds flat.

    Alternatively, if you need to know something about a very specific subject, there are some very helpful BAUTers out there who respond well to PMs...

    In the late 90s I decided to write a Doctor Who novel. The approach was to write 4,000 words of sample prose, and 4,000 words of synopsis. Another Doctor Who author told me not to worry too much about keeping too close to the synopsis when it came to writing the actual novel! Anyway, I wrote the catchiest sample I could come up with, and eventually got a commission. When it came to writing the actual novel, I stayed as close as I could to the synopsis.

    I'm currently working on an original fantasy called England Dreams. This is the result of several absurd ideas which came to me and which I wrote down in a notebook whenever they came to mind. I have some ideas of where it is going, but much of the time I am as surprised, shocked, scared and distressed by what happens next as the viewpoint character is. I've written a draft of nearly half the novel; I don't know what the exploring character will find until I explore it myself.

    Much of what I have written so far is in the process of being rewritten, and will probably be rewritten again.

    I keep notes about my characters. The notes change according to what I learn about them.

    Floor plans - no, I don't really do them for England Dreams, but I will probably do so for future work.

    Props - usually I just imagine them, but I do do drawings, and am now seriously considering making props.

    How do I know something is good - I leave it for a while, read it later, and judge it subjectively. Oh, and I ask other people what they think.

    What prompts me to do it - I like to create, and I'm convinced the idea behind England Dreams is a compelling one. I got one particular friend to read an early draft, and although he was quite critical of it, he admitted the idea had a lasting effect on him, and he was looking at the ordinary world in a new way.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    13,423
    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    This is, for someone trying to make a living at writing, horrible advice. You just keep writing. Even if it's bad. Even if you throw the whole thing out again. You don't let yourself stop, because it's too hard to make yourself start again. That's what second and third drafts are for. (It's also in your best interests to accustom yourself to writing the best you can, if not the most formal you can, at all times. Always care about your spelling and grammar, because not caring is a trap.)

    Quote Originally Posted by mike alexander View Post
    I second Gillian's advice. Even if you don't write for a living, the discipline of putting words to paper on a regular basis is a good one.
    For proffessional writing or writing for a living, you're the experts.

    However, I disagree with Mike Alexander.

    You take all the fun out of it.

    I write for many personal reasons, but if what I write is bad then I may as well have not bothered to write to begin with.

    There are times to press ahead and keep going. But when you are not writing for a living and not making money off of it, but doing it for your own pleasure... Then what pleasure comes from forcing out bad work then having to go and redo it five times after?

    Everytime I wrote bad work, it went into the trash.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    10,685
    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    Everytime I wrote bad work, it went into the trash.
    Don't do that! Even if it's mostly bad, it's your work, and there might be something in it worth salvaging, even if it's just one good sentence. Sometimes a single good sentence is enough to kick-start a piece of writing.

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    13,423
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    Don't do that! Even if it's mostly bad, it's your work, and there might be something in it worth salvaging, even if it's just one good sentence. Sometimes a single good sentence is enough to kick-start a piece of writing.
    <chuckle>
    A good sentence will stay in my head.
    When the moment is right, it slips in somewhere.

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    13,886
    I certainly won't argue about writing only when you feel like it, but my personal experience has been that if I didn't get back into the habit of writing regularly, no matter what, the writing muscles went limp and intervals between hitting the keys got longer and longer.

    I was working on a story section recently and it was dreadful going, writing about the background details of the politics of getting someone elected king. Lots of characters, sometimes obscure motivations, and writing about politics is for me usually akin to doing tax forms, only worse. So I kept putting it off. And off. Excuses. Other work. Pretty soon I noticed several weeks had passed and I was losing what thread of story I had. So I just took one Saturday morning and decided that by gum I was going to start and not stop until I had worked the scene through or hit 4,000 words, whichever came first.

    As it turned out that 4k words was about what was needed. I reread it the next day and it felt flat as Kansas, but there was enough framework to hang some decent drywall and now it's in good enough shape for me to move to the next problem.

    So, all I can say is that it's what works for you. I admire anyone who can indefinitely remember one good sentence, but this computer has a separate file called 'old trash' where I dump everything I don't use.

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    13,423
    Yeah it may fall under the "diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks" catagory.

    For myself, my own technique works well. Whin I'm in the right mindrframe I write well. When I'm not I produce crap. I'm not so patient to sift through the crap and make it workable. I do remember certain themes or sentences or an idea that works well and I'll usually file it in the back of my head and when the moment is right- POP! It appears.

    However, again, I'm not a professional writer.

    For those who write for work or a living, Gillianren and Mike Alexander have probably the best advice.
    I'm just personally free of the burden of a deadline or an audience.

Similar Threads

  1. I can write better than you can
    By tashirosgt in forum Fun-n-Games
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 2011-Feb-11, 01:25 PM
  2. Write a haiku
    By banquo's_bumble_puppy in forum Fun-n-Games
    Replies: 35
    Last Post: 2007-Jan-10, 11:38 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
here
The forum is sponsored in-part by: