Listen to your characters

“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him.”

Ray Bradbury

Though I loosely outline some stories, I’m a pantser at heart for one simple reason: the characters dictate my stories. More than once, I’ve had an idea for a scene, only for it to go in a completely different direction when my characters decide to do something else. Know your characters, and they’ll tell you where to take the story.

Telling Yourself the Story

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

Terry Pratchett

As a pantser, this resonates so strongly with me. When I write first drafts, it’s like watching a movie. My hands try to keep up with the scenes unfolding in my mind. Once I’ve watched the movie in full, finished the first draft, I rewrite with the full knowledge of the story.

Moonlight on Glass

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Anton Chekhov

I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with writing flourishing descriptions, but this quote from Anton Chekhov is usually at the forefront of my mind when I’m trying to improve a scene. I try to think of what is being acted on as much as I do the actor. “The moon shone on the field” becomes “The wheat turned silver in the moonlight”.

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