Sunday Style: A Novel Approach

1159418_key_x_from_vintage_typewriterI stumbled upon a blog I’ve been enjoying: Ask Allison. The blogger is Allison Winn Scotch, author of Time Of My Life. This past week, Allison had an interview with Joanne Rendell whose second novel, Crossing Washington Square, is forthcoming.

One question that Joanne answered was about her process for writing the novel. She said this:

My writing process didn’t differ too much. As with my first book The Professors’ Wives’ Club, I spent a few months mulling over ideas for Crossing Washington Square. When a clear sense of the story came into view, I then outlined and wrote brief chapter descriptions. I always like to have a pretty clear sense of where the story is going to go before I start writing. I also like to work on my books in a very chronological, chapter-by-chapter way. Things change as I go along, of course, and I amend my original outline and retweak past chapters but on the whole I’m a pretty structured kind of writer. I actually wrote over half of Crossing Washington Square during the summer of 2007 while staying at our little ramshackle cabin in the Catskills in upstate New York. We have no internet connection there, no distractions, barely any running water, and its amazing how focused it made me. Thoreau was definitely onto something!

All I can say is, she made my day. Really. I like outlines and the idea of having brief chapter descriptions makes complete sense and makes writing a novel seem a little more do-able. There’s been something in my mind telling me that if I make an outline for a novel it won’t be creative. It won’t flow. It’ll seem stilted. But, without allowing myself to take that step, I haven’t done anything.

I honestly think that without an outline, I’m stalling myself from what I could be writing. So, I’m throwing caution to the wind and will allow myself to think things through in outline format – what a novel idea! (Pun intended.)


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One Response to Sunday Style: A Novel Approach

  1. jesakalong says:

    Excellent post, Liz! I had similar thoughts to structure, thinking it would completely strangle my creativity. Then I took a memoir writing class, which the instructor based on fiction writing. In addition to having us writing full character sketches and a chapter descriptions/ outline, she introduced me to my favorite tool: index cards. I use the index cards to jot down scene descriptions or notes and then put them with the appropriate chapter — and it’s these cards I use to craft (or flesh out) my outlines.

    I also post the cards for the chapter I’m writing on a bulletin board so I can keep playing with them. It’s also a great way to see progress as I check off the pieces I’ve written.

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