Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Prewriting Activities (AKA, what to do when you don’t know what to do)

So I’ve been prewriting. A lot. Like every day for the last two weeks. I’m not a hardcore plotter by any means, but I definitely like to have an idea of where a story is going when I get started. For me, nothing is harder on my writing morale than finishing the first draft of a story only to realize I made a critical error right in the beginning and that I have to essentially rewrite the whole darn thing. Not revise, but rewrite, which is exactly as it sounds.

This is why I prewrite. I ask myself the “big questions” about the story. Things like what is the villain’s motivation for his/her villainy? Where is the story headed? What’s the protag’s arc?

Well for my current WIP, I’ve been stuck on one VITAL question for days now. And by stuck, I mean really stuck; the answer just refuses to present itself. So what have I been doing? Sticking with my prewriting activities. Here’s a list of some of them:

1.       Read
2.       Check email, Twitter, Facebook
3.       Write a crappy blog about prewriting
4.       Check email, Twitter, Facebook
5.       Brainstorm with pen and paper
6.       Research stuff on Wikipedia
7.       Check email, Twitter, Facebook
8.       Clean House
9.       Read
10.   Go for a walk/run/ride
11.   Check email, Twitter, Facebook
12.   Visit a bookstore
13.   Rifle through my pile of research books
14.   Brainstorm on paper
15.   Read
16.   Check email, Twitter, Facebook

You get the picture.

Moral of the story? Prewriting is a vital step of the writing process, but it’s not the only step. When you’ve done all these things a hundred times and then some, it’s time to start writing. Sometimes the answers can only be found within the story.

Self-directed Pep Talk over.

Happy Writing!


  1. You are so right. I've been stuck prewriting for the last month. I'd finally decided, "tonight is the night! I'm going to start writing again, even if it is wrong." And what did I do? Start reading blog posts.

    So, thank you for the kick in the pants. I'm turning off the internet right now. (As soon as I check my email.)

  2. I've got this prewriting thing DOWN. We could team up and give presentations at conferences and stuff. I think screwing around with PowerPoint ought to be on the list somewhere...


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