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  • Danielle Grain

Any Side Will Do

"Sargent, status?"

"Sir- we're completely surrounded."

"Excellent. We can attack from any side."

The more I take a look at some of my favorite hobbies, activities, and especially writing the more I love this quote. There are so many ways to approach writing! Those different approaches are what I use when I write.

Some writers find their characters first, others know the plot first, some discover the setting first. Each of these is right! You can attack writing from lots of angles.

One of my favorite writers, Stephenie Meyer, once explained that she wrote New Moon by writing all the scenes she was most excited about first. Then she put them in order and wrote the connecting scenes.

I've heard Brandon Sanderson talk about how he knew the plot and conflict for Mistborn and then essentially had open cast calls. He had a notebook of different characters he was developing and then wrote chunks of Mistborn with different characters in place as though they were auditioning until he found the right cast.

The list goes on.

Each of these authors did it right- they attacked from any angle.

I like the articles that list out specific steps to help me learn something new, or do something new but they are also often opinions.

For me, my most common story-plotting-angle to attack from is plot with shadows of the characters. I can see their edges and outlines and then fill them in as I plot and discover.

In "Defenders of Castle Cove", Frankie was the first character I imaged and named. She was present fully and completely there before any of the others. I knew Lucy would be the main character but her name came last and in an accidental and unexpected way.

Is there something you want to "attack"? Is there a new hobby or a story you want to tell but you're not sure how to get there?

I can give lots of suggestions but pick the one that feels right.

  1. Journal. Writing everyday about everyday things is incredibly helpful. Write about your day and the people you interact with in colorful ways. It is because of James Madison's journals that we know so much about many of our Founding Fathers.

  2. Write down all the ideas you have for a story. Just put them all down on paper, get them all out there.

  3. Consider the use of the Notes app on your phone. Tom Angleberger dictated an entire series while hiking near his home in Virginia. He would go out on a walk and just talk.

  4. Talk to someone you trust about your story. I know for me saying the ideas out loud often helps me work through things. When my friends or family are super busy I talk to my stuffed animals. They are very good listeners.

  5. Choose your own path. This was only ever meant to be a list of ideas and I would love to hear your suggestions as well.

There you go. Choose an angle, and attack! You are surrounded by options.

Write on!

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