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top-down writing vs bottom-up writing

I have Big Plans for my Sid/Geno exchange fic. I know the story I want to tell, and I have a pretty good idea of the emotional beats (subject to change, of course, once I get into it). However, I am not just sure how I'm going to tell it yet. I'm not positive whose POV I'm going to tell it from. I'm still figuring out how best to introduce the worldbuilding and how much of it I need to make explicit. Some of what I'm imagining as backstory may not make it into the story at all. I don't even know when in the timeline the story starts. It's top-down writing: I have an idea for the end result, but I have to then write the words that produce that result.

On one hand, there's something very satisfying and concrete about having a clear goal for what I want to do. On the other hand, that means it's easy to get frustrated when the words I am writing do not, in fact, achieve that goal. I think this is part of the reason I had SO MANY false starts when writing the girl!Sid D/s AU that posted in January - I knew what I wanted, and I kept having to backtrack because what I'd written didn't get where I wanted. I think I cut 6k out of an eventual 9k story. Here's hoping that doesn't happen this time.

The thing is, this is completely the opposite of how I write a lot of fic (and original fic, too, for that matter). Very often I'll start with a scenario - "A meets B" or "A, B, and C go on a road trip and develop feelings" or "A gets pregnant" - and then work out what that means for the characters. I think of this as bottom-up writing. Emotional beats develop more organically, which sounds nice until you look at ivy climbing up a wall and realize organic is often code for "messy and nonlinear with a lot of unnecessary side tangents." If your writing strategy is "plant the seed and then let the story grow of its own accord," that's going to mean pruning. It also means that the story can't be hurried along, and no matter how you push at it, it might take much longer to grow to maturity than you would like. (See: my Illyria fic. Five years and counting!)

Anyway. That is my writing thought for the day. Is there one of these strategies that you guys use more often than the other? Do neither of them fit your mode of writing at all? Talk writing at me. :)

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 3rd, 2015 05:41 pm (UTC)
Interesting thoughts. I'm the opposite; I have a much easier time writing towards a goal than from a premise, and I'm more likely to have to cut and mold in the latter case. Interesting how we all wary. XD
May. 21st, 2015 09:14 pm (UTC)
May. 3rd, 2015 09:10 pm (UTC)
I always feel like if I stop and plot too much before I start writing, I end up getting stuck because it never goes where I want it to, or else the scene in my head is hard to translate to paper. It works much better if I just get an idea and sit down and force myself to write it out, but alas, that only happens so often.
May. 21st, 2015 09:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah. That often happens to me, too. :P
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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