The Structure of Writing

downtown light & sky

Writers are unique thinkers. If you’re a writer and reading this, then you probably have an idea about what I mean. We (generally speaking) tend to keep to ourselves, might be a little quiet, definitely a little weird, have a way with stringing words into awesome sentences, have an exceptionally strange fascination with puns, and genuinely have a different way of looking at the world.

Some of this uniqueness may be because we’re constantly thinking about stories and writing, or observing our surroundings and the human condition, or simply just caught up in reading so much that our brains start to think in stories rather than real time.

So how does that uniqueness transfer to actual writing?

The act of writing, or how we write, is unique to each writer. I’d consider it to be in the vein of the writing process. There’s tons of writing on this particular topic, yet something I’ve consistently struggled with. I know WHAT I want to write, but HOW to write it is another story altogether (no pun intended?).

Some writers sit down the same time every day and write where they left off. Some write scenes out of order and then string them together later. Some create their character sketches before writing the story at all. Some outline and then write by following that outline.

I’ve generally been unsuccessful with all of these approaches. Right now, I’m currently trying to write from beginning to end, but I’m really struggling with HOW to do this. It’s such a simple concept, yet when I sit down to do it, it’s actually kind of hard. Is it possible my mind doesn’t think this way when it comes to writing?

The one thing I DO have is a general idea of how the story ends. I haven’t written it yet (maybe I should??) but a few weeks ago I started to think differently about how to write. Well, at least how to write this particular story I’m working on.

If, say for example, there are 5 major points in my story, the 5th being how it ends, how does my main character get to point 5? Answer: they get there from point 4. And how does my character get to point 4? Answer: from point 3. And so on and so forth. Essentially, it’s writing backwards.

But I’m not writing backwards like you might imagine, I’m a little all over the place at this point. I didn’t start with the end, but I took a point that I know my character gets to (near the beginning) and started to write the scenes about how she gets there. Then I’ll take some other points and figure out how my character got to those points. I’m hoping eventually they will all make sense once put together. It’s a new approach I’m taking to writing that’s help curbed the overwhelming-ness of the story in my head.

It’s possible that the underlying reason why writers think so uniquely is because we need to in order to move forward with our stories, and translating this to the real world outside of imaginary places seems like a pretty good skill to own.

Did the Story Come Before the Character?

Alright, I realize I haven’t been present since the beginning of the year, but for good reason: I’ve been writing!

Well, more like a jumble of writerly things along with school work and normal day to day things, and there’s been busy times where I’ve worked at home more often than I have in the past. But the important thing that’s been happening is that I’ve been writing and developing my character.

I haven’t been working on the same story since January, I started one, then flipped to another idea, but when that one didn’t hold my interest I decided to go back to the first one and that’s where I’m at. I’ve been developing the main character more than writing the story, which is something I’ve struggled with what to do first:

Did the character come before the story? Or the story come before the character?

One can’t exist without the other, but it’s essential to have a story in order for the character to survive and thrive in, but it’s also essential to have a character somewhat developed in order for a story to be present.

I’ve always struggled with what to do first, should I thoroughly develop my character before even starting the story at all, despite the fact I have an idea, or should I just dive into my idea for a story and let the character develop out of that?

I started to just develop the character, which got me nowhere – hence the non-writing for so long – and so I decided to start writing. But then I realized shortly after even starting to write, I couldn’t go too far in because I didn’t know my character well enough. So I went back to character development.

Side note: this story I’m working on, I’ve had this idea in my head for over 2 years, so it’s come a long way and I need to get it out!

So right now I think I’m doing a bit of character development along with writing the story itself instead of doing one before the other. I know some writers do one before the other, and that may work for them, but I’m finding out it might not work for me.

Up next time: a look at my progress?

I Edit My Texts Because I Love Words

When the topic of Scrabble comes up, everyone says to me I should be good at it because I was an English major in college.

Wrong.

I’m actually not privy to Scrabble all that much.

What I AM privy to is making sentences and paragraphs out of words in my brain, and then rearranging them to make them fit nicely on the page. This is ENTIRELY different from CREATING words out of letters printed on wooden squares.

Picking out words to use in a particular sentence is awesome. I love it, especially when I get going. I can’t pinpoint WHY I love it so much, it’s just a feeling. It makes me think and my brain gets head over heels.

I wonder sometimes how other writers feel about words. Comments?