Friday, November 5, 2010

Writing Lists is Part of Writing a Novel, Isn’t It?

I am constantly making lists. I have a list of things I need to do for my job. A list of things I need to do around the house. Several shopping lists (groceries, things for the house, gifts, my own wish list). Lists of books I’ve read and books I want to read. Even my blog posts turn into lists! Since I’m so good at making lists, I figure there must be some way I use this skill to help my writing. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. When I’m stuck on a section during writing, I make a list of what the reader knows about my characters and/or story from reading the section. It helps me focus on what I’m trying to do with a scene. If I can’t make a list, it’s time to cut.

2. During the first draft, a list of character names can help keep the momentum going (if you’re like me, and can’t bear to use a % or random something for a person’s name). Instead of stopping and checking on the name of that girl I wrote about in the last chapter, I check my handy, right-beside-the-computer list.

3. As I read my draft, I make a list of all the questions I have during reading. This helps a lot during revisions (though I can tell you, the more questions you have, the longer the revision process).

4. I often get stalled during revisions, debating over what to include. Last time, I got stuck (um...I think that was yesterday), I wrote a list of the key elements I wanted in my story. It got me thinking about what parts needed more emphasis and what parts were just becoming too complicated.

Do you have any ideas for using lists to help with your writing?


  1. Those are great ideas, especially the questions you have after you read your first draft.

  2. Using lists when writing-- I never thought of that before but it's a fab idea, because I lOVE writing lists.

  3. Glad my post is useful. I like lists so much that I put it in one of my novels--my main character carries a tiny notebook and writes lists.

  4. This is great! Particularly timely for me. I need to work on #3.

    Thanks for your advice on my query conundrum. :)


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