How easy is it to write a novel organically? Is it as simple as sitting down with a pen and paper, or your laptop and hoping the words will flow? Or is there more to it? Read on to learn word about writing organically.
There are two types of writers. First, there are Plotters who create detailed outlines, define their characters, and create their world before they ever begin to write their books. Then there are Pantsers, who write organically or by the seat of their pants.
There are also some people who use a combination of the two. They write an outline and then go in whatever direction their story pulls them.
What Famous Authors Write Organically?
Here is a list of famous authors that write organically (pantsers):
– Dean Koontz
– Diana Gabaldon
– Ernest Hemingway
– George R.R. Martin
– Harper Lee
– Isaac Asimov
– Margaret Atwood
– Mark Twain
– Neil Gaiman
– Stephen King
This is a pretty impressive list of writers who write without an outline.
Writing Without an Outline
In public school, they taught us to outline before writing our first draft. This frightens some writers who find the process too structured.
For some people like me, our minds work organically, and we can only create our stories when our imagination is free to roam. If your mind works better without structure, this might be the best way to tackle your first novel.
Writing a novel is actually imagination transformed into words. First, you close your eyes and let your thoughts drift while creating a web of consequential ideas which you either write down or dictate to a recording device.
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If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
Start With a Character
Try starting with your primary character. Then close your eyes, grab your notebook and computer and brainstorm. Think about what the character wants and needs, the setting, or a relationship they have. Throw them into a situation with conflict.
Then all you’ll need to do is let go, give total control to an imaginary character who lives in your head, listen to what she or he says, and start writing! Give them superpowers… put them in strange places… complicate their lives… the conditions are limitless.
Follow your main character around, writing down their thoughts, words, and actions as they move from scene to scene. Suddenly, other characters will appear, events will happen and exciting subplots will emerge.
Start With an Idea
If starting with a character doesn’t work for you, start with an idea. Let’s say that you are starting with a spaceship that is far from home. It collides with something that disables its engines. Your character gets badly hurt trying to fix the engines. Starting with these sequences of events, let your mind wander and produce succeeding events.
Once you have the initial idea, sink down into it and allow yourself to be absorbed completely. Then, string together a stream of spontaneous ideas.
Does someone help them? Do they perform a medical procedure on themselves? Do they fix the engine? How does it affect them, not just physically but emotionally and psychologically?
This is where an avalanche of new ideas forms and writing becomes easier. This is when the story writes itself and all you have to do is record the words as the story reveals itself in your head.
Time stands still when you are in this state. Words keep coming to you until you suddenly realize that you’ve not only written one or two pages but five or more without even knowing it!
Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
― John Steinbeck
So you have started writing using a character or an idea. What’s next?
Bad First Drafts
All first drafts are terrible. The purpose of a first draft is to get all your ideas down in one place.
Once you are done with the first draft you’ll be able to figure out the direction you need to go. You’ll know what scenes you need to expand or eliminate. How much more detail you’ll need to add to your story. How much you’ll need to dig into your characters. And more.
This is when you can add details you didn’t stop to research when you were writing. For example, if your character is a witch, you might need to research spells or pagan rituals. Just make sure the information occurs naturally within the flow of the storyline. Go through your first draft again, then see if you can find a Beta Reader to read your draft and give their impression of your story.
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So, you’ve finished your story! Maybe you got some feedback and implemented it. Now it’s time to do the final touch-ups. The editing stage is where you’ll refine your work-in-process. That is where the magic happens. You’ll polish every scene. You might even need to revise it a few times before you can arrive with the final version. But don’t fret, it’s not much work really compared to writing the entire novel.
Don’t forget to check the entire story again for spelling, punctuation, grammar, correct word usage and coherence. Read it out loud to yourself or have your computer read it back to you. It really helps to find those places that you may have left in an extra word or omitted one.
Don’t Be Intimidated
Don’t be afraid if your writing system is not the same as others who prefer to write a more structured way. If organic structure development, and experimental formats, appeal to you, go for it!
Don’t let fear stop you from writing the novel that’s been bubbling around in your imagination for days, months, or years. Most of all, don’t let a lack of money or education stop you. Not every published author has a writing degree.
Last Words on Writing Organically
You now have your own novel, that you’ve written, using your very own imagination. How exciting is that? Start writing and see what happens.
Featured image from Dan Counsell on Unsplash.