My In Between Writing Style

by Maria Geraci

There comes a time in every book’s life when the author sits back from her keyboard, scratches her head, and asks, “Now what?”

I really hate when this happens. And it happens every time. At least to me it does, and I imagine it happens to most other authors as well. For me, that time usually comes sometime after writing a “big” scene. And by big scene, I mean those pivotal scenes that usually act as sequence climaxes. Those scenes that bring us to the next phase of our story. The scenes that on the surface seem to almost write themselves, except we know that no scene truly writes itself. Writing is hard. I get that. And it should be, because nothing worth doing well is ever easy.

So how do I go from “Now what?” to “Oh, that’s what comes next!” I wish I had a magical answer, especially since I’m in that phase as I type this blog! I stayed up last night, thinking, pondering, wondering. I know how my story needs to end. I know the pivotal scenes I need to write to get to that end, I’m just now sure about some of the stuff that happens in between. You know, the important stuff that keeps your story together?

This is the time when I wish I was a plotter. But I’m not. I’ve tried pre-plotting, but I just can’t do it. I’ve written novels “pantser” style and it works better for me, but it also causes a lot of head banging moments (like now). So, I’ve created something that’s kind of in-between, a sort of plot-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method. I’m a very visual person, so I use a large three sided poster board that allows me to “see” my story as it progresses. It’s filled with lots of little post-it-notes scattered through out as you can see below. Pink is a scene already written. Blue are the emotional highlights of the scene or story “progressers” as I call them. And Orange is stuff I know I need to write. As you can see, there’s a lot of orange down there, which means it’s time to get back to work.

How do you create your stories? Plotter? Pantser? Or something in between?
2 replies
  1. Linda Rodriguez
    Linda Rodriguez says:

    Ha, Maria! I'm also at the "what comes next?" stage with my current novel. I've tried pantsing it, but it results in a zero draft which is just a huge, detailed outline. I've tried outlining, but I'm congenitally incapable of following a pattern or instructions, even my own–I have problems with authority, I guess.

    So I've taken a leaf from Elizabeth George's book. I plot fifty pages, write them, and then plot the next fifty pages. I'm at the "plot the next fifty pages" stage right now. It seems to be what works best for me. I like your storyboard, though. Might have to try that.

  2. Maria Geraci
    Maria Geraci says:

    Oh, I like that, Linda! Plot the next fifty pages. I think that's pretty much what I've always instinctively done but it's good to know that others do I too and that it works for them as well 🙂

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