Monday, December 7, 2015

Why, oh Why?

Ana muses on the word that she asks all the time as she's writing.   
Writing, for me, is like a huge jigsaw puzzle, one of those 'expert-level' ones where all the pieces are the same shape and the picture is a cloud.

I start by outlining a plot, continually asking myself why the main character would do something, and why her love interest might react in a certain way.
My outline changes as it develops, lots of cross outs on my paper. (I do this step with pen and ink. Why? Because pencil erasers aren't what they used to be.) Sheets of paper are filled, torn off and crumpled. Drafts filled with Why answers that didn't lead to the goal I have in mind. I work backwards and forwards until I have a first draft of a road map.

Then I start to write. The first chapter is the hardest. Why begin here? Why not there?
As the chapters slowly emerge, Why is ever present in my mind. Why is this the spot where I should drop this clue? Reveal this snip of backstory?

I know why I tear out my hair searching for the perfect word. Words have specific meanings and the right word conveys an emotional impact. For this is why readers read, to have an emotional experience.


  1. That's a great list of 'why' questions, Ana! Most are the same as I also ask myself when I'm sorting out a story.

  2. I would love to be able to ask "why" ahead of time and map everything out, rather than ask it as I go along and end up with drivel.

  3. Why. Such a small word with a wealth of meaning. Children learn by asking why, so I guess that we as authors continue to ask the same question. It is the only way to move our plots forward. An interesting topic, Ana.

  4. I am too much of a pantster to map out an entire story like that from the beginning. I usually have a general idea, but I really don't get specific until I get into writing the story.

    Such a good reminder, though, that we have to focus on the 'why' of things and not just the 'what'. The why is what is internally (and sometimes externally) motivating our characters.

  5. I start out with a road map so I (hopefully) don't follow too many dead ends and circular roads--or (my biggest flaw) try to circumnavigate the globe four times before I end two states from where I started.