Writings: Writing Methodologies by Beth Bowser

Three writing methodologies you can use when writing your fiction and/or nonfiction stories Writing MethodologiesClick here for a printer friendly version of this page

So you think you want to write to story, but you're confused how to start? You may be a pantser, the story enfolds as you write, or you may be a plotter, you have to plot everything out before you can start writing. You could begin like I did which is get an idea, plot it out mentally and then crank out some words. When I got stuck, I went back to the mental drawing board! I always have had a plot idea in mind when I begin, but it often wasn't enough and my story always fell flat. It'd have a great, if I may say so myself, couple of scenes or possibly the whole short story, but nothing past that. Sadly, even when I liked what I wrote, and others may have as well and published my story, if I tried to extend the story, it always felt flat. When I finally got serious about writing a long term story, a novel even, I knew I needed a better plan or I'd never finish. With that in mind, I wanted to touch on three methodologies here. Everyone is different of course, one of them may not work for you at all, but hopefully one will connect with you!

Story Grid by Shawn Coyne:
Story Grid is a very comprehensive... everything! for writing! You have plotting help, breakdowns by genre, help for writing the best scenes and tons of infographics and podcasts for whatever problem you might have. There is a strong and vibrant community with Story Grid as well, including many editors both for the assisting in the making sure your manuscript makes sense and is up to snuff with manuscript evaluations and/or one on one conversations to discuss plot and scenes and just everything you can think of! Also offered is the Guild which is a paid membership that offers monthly benefits of new books, training, macro analysis, Q&A with Shawn Coyne himself, 20% off everything sold and a connection with a publisher and a community of like-minded individuals! Check it out! I did and am ashamed to say all the content overwhelmed me and I kept looking, but it may be perfect for you!

James Scott Bell's Knockout Fiction:
James Scott Bell's method is one I found recently, from a library which was showing a youtube video about his method - From Idea to Plot. It's a good video and is more for a beginner compared to Story Grid above. His special surprising idea is writing from the middle! Start in the middle and flesh out the beginning and ending from that! He's written a novel about it and teaches through a lecture series and an app. He also has a free book on writing you can get just by giving your email to his website! I'm sorry that I don't have too much more to say about his method as I already had started using Story Path below when I found James Scott Bell, but if you are struggling for ideas or what to do, give his content a chance!

Story Path:
Story Path is very similar to Story Grid, especially so when you realize that the two editors associated with Pages & Platforms, the developers of Story Path, are both Story Grid editors! From the beginning, I loved immediately how the online teaching is structured almost like a step-by-step guide! There are seven essential story types, according to Story Path, and each type has specific necessary wants, needs, emotions to evoke, supporting characters, settings, situations, moments and finally premise ideas. They drill it down a little further to explain that of the seven types, three are plot-driven, three are character driven and the last one counts as both. For a well rounded story, you need both plot and character driven story lines so you only have to choose which of the seven is going to be primary story and which is the secondary. Easy right? Ha, I know, it's not easy, but to me, it felt like I had a plan and therefore a chance to get my novel written! One thing I need to mention is that the creators of this program suggest you don't buy into the program until you have a zero draft (author lingo for garbage first draft) that either you can't finish for any reason or you are ready to self-edit and back sure all the t's are crossed and i's dotted. I kinda did at around 40,000 words, but I have no ending. So in my case, when I started Story Path, resistance won and I put my nonfiction aside and started on a fiction novel. I just am not ready to finish my autobiography, to pour my heart and soul out to be reamed by strangers. Not by you, of course, but the internet is a mean place...

I hope any of those excited your creative spirit and you are invigorated to write more or finish that novel!