My Writer’s Handbook

I have a LOT of books on the craft of writing.  (I’m currently packing for a move; a painful reminder of exactly how many books I own.)  Craft is a subject I never tire of, in part because I’m eternally seeking to grow.  I’m also guilty of eternally seeking the magic bullet; something to make the creative process easier.  Or at least less messy.  (I *know* it’s out there.  I BELIEVE it exists.  I bet Stephen King probably has it.)

At the beginning of each new writing project, I always find that the tools that worked the last time no longer function.  It’s just how my process works.  (Unrelated aside: Honor your writing process!  Yes, you can change it, but in the moment always love it.  It’s yours!)  Thankfully, I have a variety of methods for plotting, for fleshing out characters, for triangulating goal-motivation-conflict, etc.  Some methods are blessedly short and sweet; others are laborious.  If the story is crystal clear in my head, then a brief plotting system is perfect.  But when the story idea is hazy, a more detailed plotting technique helps flesh it out.

I store my rag tag collection of tried-and-true worksheets/forms in a tabbed, 3-ring binder. Sections include: CHARACTERS, GMC, PLOT, SCENE/SEQUEL, SETTING, REVISION.  Tried-and-true is a crucial differentiation.  Not just any/every form makes the cut.  A true handbook is not storage; it’s a distillation.  These are forms I’ve collected and used over a twenty year span. (Yes, I’ve been at this a loooong time.)   While many forms have come from books or conference handouts, a few are originals I’ve devised, then tweaked, to fit me.  (OK, I admit it; I’m a checklist junkie.)

I frequently refer to this handbook as my writer’s ‘bible’.  Just flipping through it inspires me; gets my creative sparks a sparkin’.  (Hmmm.  Maybe this is what a magic bullet looks like…)  In future blogs I’ll share more of what’s inside each specific section.

Your turn.  Go.  Write.  Make sparks. (And honor your process!)