I’ve always enjoyed categorizing myself. Perhaps that sounds strange. What I mean is that I’ve always been drawn to the idea of knowing myself; of figuring out where my strengths and weaknesses lie, and how I can make them work for me. That idea is a big part of why I decided to do this little series on writing styles, of which this post is the third and final installment. ^-^ I wanted to take a look at the different habits that make up the way that we approach, write, and edit our stories. Also, I thought it might be fun to have something like a writing personality type, kinda like Meyers-Briggs. Although, I really need a fourth habit set for that. I will have to think of one eventually. ^-^
So let’s take a look at the methods we use to prepare for a story, and how it affects the way we work through that story. Like Linear and Non-Linear writing, these methods have been expounded upon by many people, with a lot more insight than myself. So, prepare for a short post… though I hope it is still useful and enjoyable.
This style is probably better known by the term “Pantser”; but personally I prefer ‘Freewriter’. I think this term is a bit more accurate, and also sounds less like a kind of tank. ^-^ Although if you like the idea of being a tank, that is cool also.
Regardless of the exact term, the idea is the same. A Freewriter often begins with the basic concept of a plot, or even characters, and makes it up as they go. They like to let their muse run free, and tend to view most forms of ordering or planning their story as unnecessary restrictions that will only hamper their creative process.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t use lists, or other organizational methods, to help keep track of things as they go along. They just don’t like to fit their story into the bounds of a preconceived plan. This may mean a lot of rewriting or cutting during the editing process, but Freewriters don’t usually mind that much. For them, the fun of discovery is one of the most important parts of their process. Fair trade for a bit of extra work.
– Have a higher risk of losing their plot lines, or getting caught up in character monologues.
– Sometimes find it more difficult to get out of a rut than a Planner.
– Are more open to using completely “off-book” ideas.
– Often, but not always, a Lewisy writer.
– May develop characters and plot points with a more organic feel.
A Planner is, naturally, a writer who likes to plan a story out before they get into actually writing it. Whether it’s just a simple examination of their beginning, middle, and end plot points, or a complicated affair involving character bios and world profiles with detailed religion schematics, Planners want a blueprint to guide them as they write. What kind of foundation are they laying down? Where do the load-bearing character walls go? How about the POV windows?
Lists, outlines, spreadsheets, the Planner has as many tools in their arsenal as a swiss army knife. Despite this, they can be very uncomfortable when they run into an unexpected need for something to evolve outside of their original plan. Of course, it’s nothing that can’t be solved with a few more outlines… right? ^-^ And for a Planner, the fun is in watching all their hard work pay off as the pieces fall into place.
– Are more likely to get caught up in research/planning and never get around to actually writing.
– Have a higher risk of bending characters to fit their plot.
– Generally have great tools for working themselves out of a corner.
– Often, but not always, a Tolkienish writer.
– May develop plots and characters with more depth.
I am sure no one who has read my blog would be shocked to discover that I am a Planner. ^-^ My level of planning varies quite a lot, based on how complicated a project is and how long I’ve been working on it, but I really require a plan of some kind. Although I must say that some of my favorite story beginnings came from a spark of an idea that I just wrote out, attempts at Freewriting further than those first few paragraphs inevitably end with me severely blocked and crawling back to my outlines and lists. haha
This is the end of my Writing Styles series (at least until I come up with a good fourth set), and I hope you have all enjoyed it! ^-^I have the feeling that it’s not as insightful as I kind of hoped, but that’s okay. It’s always fun to look at the different ways we go about doing the thing we love to do: writing. I have tried my best to portray all the sides evenly, because I really do believe that each style has its own merits and limitations. I love to discuss these kinds of things, so feel free to leave a comment!
I’d also love to hear what your ‘writing personality type’ is. Are you a TLP, Tolkienish/Linear/Planner, like me? ^-^ In case you’re not sure of the first two letters, here’s some links to my previous Writing Styles posts.
Tolkienish and Lewisy
Linear and Non-Linear