Prewriting

What is prewriting? It used to be little exercises they had you do in creative writing class to sort of flex your writing muscles. The equivalent of pre-workout stretches. If you are striving for a writing habit, which is an excellent idea, then perhaps it would help to begin with these. Here are a few suggestions.

Blog. Writing a journal entry, either on your weblog or on paper, is a good way to get you into a writing frame of mind. This wouldn’t be a great time to vent and get overemotional. Perhaps find something that happened in your life or that you read about that relates to what your character’s up to.

Quick Outline. Make a short outline of just the scenes you plan to work on today. This can also be in the form of a synopsis, jotted notes, or anything that gets you toward your scene.

Prompt. Set up, ahead of time, a series of writing prompts, or find a place online that has random ones. Do a very short answer to the prompt, perhaps 200 words, just to oil up your pen, as it were.

Wiki. Or any other site where you usually do research. Pick one topic you don’t feel fully versed on in your current project and look up a maximum of three pages about it. DON’T get caught up in the world of wiki… if you’re a compulsive research clicker, steer clear of this exercise. (Guilty!)

Distillation. What is the main theme or emotional point of the scene you’re about to write? Get it into one sentence, 15 words or less. This is great practice for when you want to write your tagline and blurb for the query letter.

In general, the idea is that you spend only a few minutes doing this prewriting before you dive into actual writing. And that it should somehow feed into what you’re doing, conduct your mind into the state needed to concentrate on your writing. It’s meant to be a lead-in, an introductory phase, something to move you from your place in the real world to your place on the page.

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