But Elizabeth beat me to the post I was going to write--all about how different the four of us were in terms of how we approach our writing. Who was a pantser? Who was a plotter? What did our processes look like when we were all sharing space? You'll have to check out Elizabeth's post to see.
I can tell you that I am definitely not a plotter! Not if being one involves Elizabeth's many binders and scene breakdowns--all of which fascinated me, but none of which I could use, I don't think.
Here's me typing away in my sunny little corner of our condo. I used the weekend as an opportunity to launch into my new book.
When I start a new book, I like to jump in and just start writing. I like to get the characters on the page and see who they are, what they have to say for themselves, what they might be hiding. I usually play around with them and their world for about three chapters, until I have a little bit of a handle on who they are and what their conflicts seem to be this early on. And when I'm finished those first three chapters, I usually take a time out to regroup and figure out the spine of the story. What do I think is going to happen? What would I like to have happen?
Usually, I craft a (very vague) synopsis that sketches out what I think are the major turning points, the beginning, middle, and end. It's not a very official document. If my editor asks me about my next book I'll type it up (it's rarely more than a page and never more than two) and if she doesn't, I just scrawl it out on a piece of paper I keep on my desk. And then I usually rewrite those opening chapters multiple times to really nail the characterization right from the start, now that I know where I'm going.
I do this until I feel as if I know the characters well enough to move on toward the story I've mapped out for them, however vaguely.
But this time, I decided to do something brand new for me: I decided to use pictures.
The truth is that I don't think of myself as being particularly visual. When asked to assign celebrities to my characters, I usually draw a blank. But over the course of the last few books I've written, I've started to use pictures a whole lot more to help clarify my thoughts and inspire me as I sit in front of this screen daydreaming my way into the next scene.
So it was a short step from there to Pinterest.
This is the vision board I created on Pinterest for my latest book, a Harlequin Presents featuring a billionaire Spaniard and his British personal assistant:
I won't lie, it's easy for hours to slip by while I'm on Pinterest, busy pinning here and there, but I've noticed that since I made this board, my writing is significantly more focused. The characters seem to pop more, and the scenes seem more vivid. Maybe because I can actually look at my thoughts in addition to writing them on the page.
Do you collage or pin or create vision boards? Do you cut out pictures from magazines? Do you cast your books? Do you think these things help--or are they simply artful procrastiation?
I suspect that for me, the answer lies somewhere in-between. But every book needs some mulling-over, some daydreaming into life, and so far, Pinterest seems to be a great way for me to do it.
Megan Crane is the author of more than twenty novels, most of which she wrote while fighting off (and usually succumbing to) her crippling addiction to all things internet-related. There is no time-wasting bit of social networking she is not prepared to spend hours on. Obviously, this post is an attempt to rationalize her hours spent online by claiming it is all some form of good writing habits, after all. Whatever works. She also teaches writing in places like UCLA Extension's Writers' Program. You can find out more about her at www.megancrane.com.