November 6th, 2009

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What Type of Writer Are You?

cross-posted from

In honor of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I thought I'd use the Friday Five to take a look at different types of writers. (People participating in NaNoWriMo try to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. They are allowed to outline, sketch, etc. beforehand, but they can't start writing until the 1st and have to finish by the 30th.)

There are so many different kinds of writers and ways to categorize us. So, which kind of writer are you?

1. Plotter -- Some writers are all about plot. They know all the pivotal moments and when they will happen before they start writing. I once went to a plot workshop where the instructor laid out a structure showing on which page numbers each plot point should happen. (As in, "You should plan to have your first key plot point on page twelve" or whatever.) This is when I knew I for sure that I was not a plotter. Not that there's anything wrong with it, it just didn't work for me. In fact, it completely stressed me out.

2. Outliner -- Other writers like to sketch out the basic idea before they start, get a sense of the characters and what will happen. I have heard many outliners say that they don't usually stick to the outline, but it makes them feel better to have it. Personally, outlines make me feel boxed in, so I don't use them either.

3. Storyboarder -- Some people like to use the storyboard idea, using an image or phrase or paragraph on notecards or stickies for all the key moments or even for every scene. It's similar to an outline, but more visual. Sometimes I'm envious of people who know what's going to happen before it does. As you probably guessed by now, I don't storyboard either.

4. Fly by the seat of their pants-ers -- These writers are more of the wing-it variety. They take it as it comes and see where it goes. I often fall into this category, which can be nerve-racking at times, wondering what's going to happen and if it's all going to come together. But somehow it works.

5. Channelers -- These writers swear the character or story speaks to/through them. They just listen and take dictation and the story writes itself. This is my favorite kind of writing, because it's so wild to see a cohesive story come together on its own. I count myself lucky when this happens, but don't always have control over making it happen. Many more authors than you would imagine have experienced this type of writing.

All of these methods are equally legitimate and workable. It really just depends on what works best for you. So if you're a writer or aspire to be, try different techniques and see which one works best for you.

Happy Writing! And to those of you paricipating in NaNoWriMo -- Good Luck!!