There are many different approaches to take when attempting to write anything, be it a novel, or a play, or a poem, and so on. In this article I would like to outline briefly some of the writing styles I have encountered in my time in the writing community. Just for fun!
The Straight Through:
“Let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start” (Sound of Music). This type of writer starts at the start and goes straight on through to the end in one power marathon of a draft. This often means long writing session in order to just get it all down before the inspiration is lost. Edits are for later and sleep is for the weak!
Pros: This quickly results in a full draft of a story which means the author is less likely to lose focus or interest and wander away from their project.
Cons: Sometimes, by the time the writer reaches the later half of their project they have forgotten the earlier details of their plot. This style of writing will likely need quite a heavy edit.
The Note Jotter:
This writer’s best ideas come at 4 am. They have dialogue written on Starbuck’s cups and they always have a pen at hand, because who knows when inspiration will strike. Nothing is in any order, but it’s all going to go in there eventually… probably… if it doesn’t get lost.
Pros: This is a more free-form type of writing which allows for flexibility. Sometimes those 4 am ideas really are the most inspired.
Cons: This results in a less structured and less complete draft. The author may find themselves struggling to fill in gaps between inspirations.
Before this writer even starts writing, they have the entire story planned out, literally mapped out to the smallest detail. Outlines, bullet points, lists, timelines, blueprints, and actual maps are this writer’s best friend. They are probably planning a scouting trip to the locations they are writing about for this summer.
Pros: The amount of forethought and planning put into their work before the writing process begins means that the writer will almost have a full draft before they even start, they just have to assemble it! This style results in consistency and continuity.
Cons: Sometimes the writer can get too caught up in the details and forget to just let the writing flow. This style can be inflexible and the time put into planning it out means that the writer may be more reluctant to change their plans.
This writer is a perfectionist. They will rewrite a scene or a single line over and over 100 times until it is perfect before they will even consider moving on to the next chapter or paragraph. They probably have tennis elbow and carpal tunnel from crossing out, erasing, and slamming the backspace button.
Pros: The resulting first draft will likely require very little editing due to the high standard the writer holds themselves to.
Cons: This level of perfectionism can cause a writer to quickly burn out. If they can’t get it just right they can get frustrated. Additionally, refusing to move on means that nothing else will get written, even if maybe it would have been better to move on.
This writer could tell you the story of the first time their main character scraped their knee. They have pages of backstory on all their characters and full family trees, including details that won’t even feature in the completed book. And, they will defend their characters to the death.
Pros: There will be no bland, flat, or uninteresting characters here. All their characters will be fully fleshed out and all their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and motivations are explained in their complicated backstory.
Cons: The time spent with these characters makes them feels like family. This means that the writer tends to be very defensive of their characters and, as a result, can be unwilling to take any criticism about them, even if the criticism is needed.
Now, one should remember that not every writer need fall into a nice neat category. When you write, you should find a way that works for you and don’t be afraid to mix it up. And if you do feel that one of these writer types is your style then don’t be self conscious about it, rock it! You have found a style that works for you: congrats! No one can tell you how to write your book but you.
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Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Intern at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.