Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action: Watching What You Write.

So we all have our own writing styles. Some people sit down and the words just start pouring out of them, happy little spigots of inspiration that were just waiting to be turned on the moment fingers hit the keyboard, while other people painstakingly plot out every step, every breath, every turn of the head that their characters make, which will lead them from page one to "the end".

I've tried almost every conceivable way to write and even though I've found that my technique falls somewhere in the middle of completely pantsing it, to having it all plotted out, I have found that one technique works for me every time.


Some people say it's impossible for them to picture what's going to happen to their characters in their head, but for me it's second nature. Maybe it's because I'm such a visual person anyway, or maybe it's because I'm somewhat obsessed with movies, but whatever the reason, it's very, very helpful for me to imagine my scenes before I write them.

I don't know everything that's going to be said, or every movement that will be made, but sitting back and watching my scenes unfold in my imagination makes it so much less intimidating to actually sit down and write.

Usually, after playing a scene out in my mind, I jot down the major events that I want to have unfold in my writing. This sort of an outline relaxes me because I'm not stressing out about what needs to happen and I can focus instead on how things happen.

What works for you?


  1. I learn visually, so being able to see things is a must. My research always includes lots of pictures. Sometimes I think I'm the only one! Thanks for the post!

  2. I see the scene in my head, but I also need to find the right words at the time or at least get everything down as I watch it. Sometimes as I've planned something, something else will happen which is good, it leads to more conflict.

    The major parts of the novel are almost always planned out ahead of time because of something I've seen, and then I only need to find the right words to try and get everyone else seeing what I'm seeing as well.

  3. I visualize much of what I write. I find it particularly helpful when describing human expressions and mannerisms. Like, "How would my face look if someone just told me I'll never see so-and-so again?" Some scenes I see played out like a movie, others just bits and pieces.

  4. Every Monday morning DH and I go for a long hike in the woods. He takes pictures, I imagine the upcoming scenes for my WIP. Like you said, this makes the actual writing so much less stressful. During those hikes, I also let my characters talk to each other while I listen to their dialogue exchanges. I record their words in my head. Sometimes I replay the scenes in order over and over and have the characters repeat their conversations until I get them just right.

    Thanks for opening this discussion. It's fun to meet people with a similar process.

  5. I've never voiced it quite this way, but this is what I do each day while walking my dog. Scenes play out in my head, or if I'm struggling with something, I put different spins on what I'm seeing in order to find what flows better. Great post! Thank you.

  6. I just write. I see my books like movies and I write what I see in my head. I think I can draw more details. What's weird is that the movie scenes in my head aren't always the same, sometimes, they change a little, and I change my writing. That tells me my characters moods have changed.

  7. Funny, Brandon Mull said he does the same thing; watches a scene over and over in his head. For me I visual and go over a scene when I run. My best inspirations come that way.