How do writers work?

I question I’ve been asked–and one that is a pretty valid one–is how do I write? Well besides the obvious answer of tapping away on a computer until the characters and stories in my head suddenly appear on the pages in front of me, there’s actually a methodology to my madness.

Surely not I hear you cry! A method to the madness! But actually there kind of is. More than one in fact. The first technique–and I use this term loosely–is that I carry with me flash cards. I make notes on them, group them together for each story that I’m working with, character traits, descriptions, research notes…everything to do with the story has a flash card. Just like a notebook, right? Well, not for me. I like this because I can rearrange things easily, add things in the right place, take them out and not make an absolute disgrace of a notebook so that I can no longer read anything I’ve written! Lol! And trust me that has happened on more than one occasion. Yes I’m a little…compulsive/obsessive/anally retentive about it, but you know what? It works for me. So there. And yes you can totally imagine me sticking my tongue out at you there…because I was!

Anyway, moving on. The second thing I do…and this is pretty new…is I have this huge poster of a story arc and character arc. It’s up on the wall of my study…and it’s covered in post-it notes. Why, I hear you ask. Well…I find it a good way to keep track of my timeline…progression…the build up of momentum…the rhythm and the tension of the story…I can follow it like the score of a piece of music like this. I see the flow and ebb of the characters. I can feel the heartbeat of the story when I see it like this.

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See this might look like madness…and quite possibly it is. But it’s a madness that works for me.

And my new story Nightingale is the story up on the block right now.

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