Do you compose in your mind?

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Do you compose in your mind?

Post by Mira » April 29th, 2012, 10:44 pm

So, I always thought I was a pantser, but I'm starting to realize I may not be.

I never thought that I outlined before I start. But I've been writing a fair amount lately, and I've noticed that I spend a fair amount of time outlining and composing in my head. When I'm driving, when I'm waking up or going to sleep, eating, walking, or just sitting and thinking, I'm busy writing and outlining my wip in my thoughts. Then, when I sit down, I don't have all the details, but I have a general sense of things.

This is quite a revelation to me - I've always been nervous about the 'pantser' method, which I thought I was, but I feel reassured realizing that I do have a planning process - it's just in my mind. I also edit in my mind ALOT.

I'm just curious, do other people write in their thoughts either before or after they start writing on paper (or on the computer)? I'd be interested to hear other people's process.

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Re: Do you compose in your mind?

Post by Mark.W.Carson » April 29th, 2012, 11:20 pm

Very much so. A lot of my story either comes from when I drive, or before I fall sleep. A few times, I get ideas when I talk about my story with other people, because I realize before I even say get to a weak point: "Oh, there's a hole here, where they should be doing this, but instead they don't and blah blah blah"

I'd say write all this down into a single file, so you can reference it (though not use it as gospel) later.

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Re: Do you compose in your mind?

Post by abc » April 30th, 2012, 12:17 pm

Always composing! The pants method isn't doing it for me this time around. I'm taking a new approach. I'm writing scene by scene--working carefully on it, making sure it flows from and into next one. I feel like I can manage it all better if I focus on a few pages at a time, rather than have a big scramble to deal with. This is the first WIP I've done this way, and I'm liking it. Also, if I feel really inspired to write a later scene--I'll go do that, and I'll poop it out quickly, so to speak, much like the pants method. But then I'll go back to where I was--highlighted in red so I know exactly where I am.

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Re: Do you compose in your mind?

Post by polymath » April 30th, 2012, 12:19 pm

Almost all my writing is mental composition, based on a grounding in narrative theory, which is a process of planning and prewriting, draft writing, rewriting, and revision. The most organic step in my writing process is raw draft writing, the actual putting of words on the page. The other phases are critical thinking mostly. The up and the down of creative writing is I realize I'm on my own writing about what I don't know using what I do know or discover I need to research. I use a framework of dramatic structure as the foundation of all my writing, especially outside of raw draft writing, to evaluate my projects at every step of the journey.
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Re: Do you compose in your mind?

Post by ladymarella » May 1st, 2012, 3:21 am

Yes, all the time. I always know where the story is going, even if it's not outlined formally, and I find if I haven't already composed the scene in my mind, I have trouble putting it all down on paper and making it flow.
Currently composing a sprawling family saga set in 19th century England
The world may be divided into people that read, people that write, people that think, and fox-hunters.'- William Shenstone,

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Re: Do you compose in your mind?

Post by Claudie » May 1st, 2012, 12:13 pm

I do this all the time. My outlining is mostly writing down what I've made up in my head. Early mornings and late nights, when I'm in bed, are particularly good times for composing. Walking too.
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

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Re: Do you compose in your mind?

Post by Ryan » May 1st, 2012, 1:14 pm

I thing there's a saying about writers that says, "Writers are always working."

In your head work is working.
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.

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Re: Do you compose in your mind?

Post by Nicole R » May 1st, 2012, 1:28 pm

Definitely! All. The. Time. I outline my scenes pretty well in my mind before I ever put them down on paper. It helps me catch plot holes and see where the story is, it's fun. :D

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Re: Do you compose in your mind?

Post by susnacollins » May 2nd, 2012, 2:22 am

Yes, Iam always composing. Before writing iam composing everything in mind and then writing. It makes easy writing.

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Re: Do you compose in your mind?

Post by dios4vida » May 10th, 2012, 12:51 pm

Constantly. A lot of the time I hardly remember my morning routine (shower, brush teeth, etc.) because that's when I plot out my writing for the day. For instance, this morning I had to hurry into my office to make sure I wrote down a revelation my protag has at the end of the story, and a note about a change I need to make regarding two characters' relationship, before I forgot them.

The other day my husband and I were driving home (we live out of town so it's a 30 minute drive through some rural areas to get to our little town). I stared out the window, muttering to myself, even graphing out a character web in my mind (and the empty space in front of me) and pointing to different people while crafting out this new aspect. I started laughing, out loud, when I thought of a great sub-plot twist. My husband looked over at me and I blushed. "I must seem like I'm crazy right now," I said. He laughed and said, "Yeah, but I'm used to it."

So yeah. All the time.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: Do you compose in your mind?

Post by wilderness » May 10th, 2012, 3:54 pm

All the time. And I still consider myself a pantser. Here's the reason--a true outline would definitely make me lose enthusiasm and steam. I definitely do sometimes imagine a scene fully before I write it down, often in the shower. I get the best ideas in the shower!

But if I can't think through all the details of a scene, I just start writing to get the flow going. The reason I pants is because I *cannot* guess or plan the small details in the scene ahead of time, especially not for all of the scenes in the book. And the thing is, the details often change how I was going to handle the next scene, and the details in that scene affect the next one after that. Sometimes what I thought would happen doesn't end up making logical sense--maybe my character turned out to be more or less ethical than I thought, or more or less brave than I originally thought. I have to be true to how I wrote them. Consistency is key. I'm writing sci-fi and making the technologies all fit with each other, and with the short-comings I need from them can breed a different logic than I originally thought. I can not plan that--and it changes, draft after draft, as I attempt to make my world and characters make sense.

That's why I can't change from being a pantser, but pantsing doesn't mean you're not constantly thinking about your book or coming up with ideas. They just aren't terribly chronological for the most part and they come in bursts of inspiration. Sometimes my ideas don't fit any more and I take whole threads out. I do write them down in a journal as I go and when I'm gearing up to move forward I try to skim over my journal to make sure I remember all my good ideas.

Edit: oh yeah, and one other reason I pants is because I think I have a natural talent for pacing that only works when writing prose, not when outlining. I will often add or remove scenes because of how I think the pacing needs to be. I will add or remove description. I will add or remove the reveal of important information. Because if the book isn't moving right along, or slowing down after a really intense scene, I can't stand it. Pacing, FTW!

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Re: Do you compose in your mind?

Post by wordranger » May 11th, 2012, 9:54 pm

I used to write completely in my head, but I had the entire story mapped out before I ever started typing. I guess you could say I outlined, but at times while I was writing, I realized I missed something in the plot and I got stuck.

Recently, I started outlining because I was up against a deadline and had no room for error. I figured out all the problems before I started writing, and the ideas then were able to flow because I had nothing to "figure out."

Now, I am a converted pantser. I have learned my lesson. The outline is my friend

"Be one with the outline"
Words are your friend.
Don't be afraid to lose yourself in them.

Jennifer Eaton, WordRanger
My Novelette LAST WINTER RED will be published by J. Taylor Publishing in December, 2012

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