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Creative Writing Ideas: Prewriting Process

Updated on June 19, 2013

The Importance of a Process

This past week I went to a class called Demystifying the Writing Process. The class instructor, Jackie MacGirvin, an award winning author and ghostwriter, gave a lot of good writing tips and ideas. However, one point she stressed, and that stood out above all the rest is that the writing process does not begin with writing, it begins with a "prep" work process. As she emphasized this point over and over again, I began asking myself: What "prep" work do I do in my writing process? Sometimes a good idea will hit my mind and I'll just start writing that idea into a blog or short story. There is nothing wrong with that approach other than I find myself asking a multitude of questions trying to figure out where I'm going with what I'm writing while I'm writing. This can lead to me becoming frustrated and wanting to drop that great idea I originally had.

In the words of Charles Dickens:

Only jolter-headed, conceited idiots suppose that volumes are to be tossed off like pancakes, and that any writing can be done without the utmost application, the greatest patience, and the steadiest energy of which the writer is capable.

Writing well is one of the true tests of patience. It's difficult to go through all the steps and stages - the process - of writing when in your mind ideas and words appear like a well-choreographed dance, moving together effortlessly. However, like the dance, much foregoing time, thought and concentration is essential to great writing.

Prewriting Plan

If you have trouble trying to come up with your own "prep" work process this plan is very helpful for forming your great ideas.

Day 1 - Write one sentence summarizing your story.

Day 2 - Make a note of the characteristics/name/age and relationships of your major characters and repeat for the minor characters.

Day 3 - Decide on the location and settings that will feature your novel. Write notes on each one..

Day 4 - Define your character's goals. Every character needs something hard to get, needs to have obstacles to overcome to reach his/her goals. Every character needs to change during the course of the story.

Day 5 - List the obstacles that prevent the main characters from getting what they want. These could be psychological, physical or emotional. This sets up the plot and creates the tension.

Day 6 - Plan the conclusion. Write a paragraph and put it over your desk. You have now finished the story, so the goal is achievable.

Day 7 - Briefly outline the plot and write an overview.

Day 8 - List chapter headings and the major event that takes place OR how the chapter links one chapter to another.

Day 9 - Set up hard copy files for each character and location containing as much detail as possible. Create a storyboard.

Day 10 - Write the opening paragraph.


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