Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yellow Pads and Bossy Characters

This week we’ve been writing about how we write our books.

I like to start with yellow legal pads. I buy them by the bunch at Costco and for some reason give me one of those, a nice pen, and a cup of coffee in the morning and the story seems to come to me.

The short coming is that I tend to keep starting new pads and although I try to date and make notes explaining what the stuff is, I sometimes get it all mixed up. There is also the issue of my handwriting. When I really get going, it’s hard for me to write fast enough and what I do write comes out as a mess.

But since I’ve already written something, it’s much easier to move to the computer and even if I can’t read every word, I usually remember the essence of what I wrote. Also as I put it in the computer I am already rewriting it.

Like Linda, I use index cards, but usually when I’m writing the synopsis. I like them because you can go back and add to a scene by adding another card, but not get the sequence of everything mixed up.

As for ideas - I have noticed that as I’m do the rewrite of one book, something of the next one shows up. It might be an opening scene, a piece of the story, or something about crochet. It’s nice to have something to start with because each time start a new book I feel a little panicky and wonder how I’m going to do it.

Sometimes, my characters take over and completely surprise me. I was totally shocked at the last line of You Better Knot Die, which comes out in November. It was Barry Greenberg’s idea, not mine.

Do any of you writers think your characters are trying to take over?


Terri Thayer said...

Yellow pads and Bic uni-balls are my weapons of choice. It is difficult to keep track of. I periodically go through the pads and tear out pages that I've entered but I still end up with lots of notes that are hard to file. I tell myself that looking through them is working on the story.

The biggest drawback is not being able to read the writing! It's like the computer wiping out your edits. You have to hope it's better the next time.

Linda O. Johnston said...

It's been fun reading about the similarities and differences between our respective writing habits this week. Like Betty and Terri, I have a hard time reading my own handwriting after the fact. To some extent, my writing on notecards tends to reinforce what I've been plotting, so at least some of it remains in my head, at least for a while.

Camille Minichino said...

On characters taking over, I heard Reginald Hill once say "I wish! I'd go get a spot of team."

But, yes, sometimes I feel characters tell me things when I stop thinking about them.

Betty Hechtman said...

Terri, so you file your yellow sheets. Good for you. My current favorite pen is the Sharpie extra fine. It doesnt bleed through the paper, doesn't have the bad smell the other Sharpie's do and there's more of a chance I can read my handwriting.

Linda, and here I thought I was the only one with problems reading my handwriting. I find I'm a little more legible on the index cards.

Camille, maybe it's not so bad to have the characters take over. Thanks to Barry's last line in the book move, I had a whole conflict already set up for the next book.

Judy Harper said...

There's something about a blank piece of paper and a #3 pencil that gets me going!

Monica Ferris said...

Back before computers (which make editing so much easier!), I used to write the first draft of my stories on yellow legal-size pads. Early on in my writing I somehow acquired a laundry marker pen. After awhile just the sight of the pad and the peculiar scent of the marker pen ink would put me in writing mode.

Betty Hechtman said...

Judy, pencils are nice. My problem is that my handwriting is even worse in pencil unless I can keep it very, very sharp.

Betty Hechtman said...

Monica, how cool that the scent of the pen could get your creative juices flowing.