How I Write: Thank You Drew Carey

There are a number of ways to write a book. Generally, it is split into two camps. You have your plotters and you have your pantsers. Plotters have their story outlined in great detail prior to adding text. They have a roadmap that tells them exactly where they are going. Pantsers fly by, well, the seat of their pants. They sit down and let the story come as it will. This, of course, is a bit simplified. There are any number of permutations of each. Some loosely plot and fill in as they go. Some plot and outline the story to within an inch of its life. Others write scenes out of order and rearrange as the story needs. And still others start at the beginning and write straight through. The types go on in a fascinating pattern that illustrates that the creative process is as creative as the work that ends up on the page.

So how do I do it? Well I plot and pants it. I like to use the “Whose Line Is It Anyway” method to writing. If you don’t remember the show then you missed out. I started watching the British Improv television show when I was in High School. I came home every day and watched it before I even thought about doing my homework. Then the show made its move to American Television with Drew Carey as the host and I loved that too. I won’t argue the difference between the two, I loved them equally. If you must, then argue in the comments and maybe I’ll join in.

So how does Improv theater games relate to writing? Simple. You have characters and you have situations. People react to situations. This is how we work. We may have a general idea of where we are going and how we would react should a situation occur, but we never really know until it happens. The fact that we are terrible at prediction actually makes it all the more interesting. Inevitably the way we thought something would turn out is completely wrong. This is what makes life rich and experience all the more valuable.

I start my stories with two things. First I have a cast of characters with certain personalities and tendencies. I may not know everything about them, but we have the basics down. Then I throw them into a situation with a problem they must solve. Their personalities determine the way the scene will go. There are a million ways a scene can go, so it becomes something akin to a Choose Your Own Adventure for the characters.

But, you may say, what about story arc and plot structure? Can things get out of hand and throw you completely off track? Of course they can. But the characters and I have a general idea of where we are going. They have an ultimate goal and I keep a few situations up my sleeve to throw at them just to keep it interesting. If we never lose sight of the ultimate goal, things begin to fall into place.

When we finally reach the end, the characters and I can lift up a beer together and say, “What a ride. I never expected that to work.”

And so, I give you Whose Line Is It Anyway

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This entry was posted in Humor, Writing by erinlausten. Bookmark the permalink.

About erinlausten

Erin Lausten's life is as busy and fast paced as her books. Working as an archeologist and research librarian in the recent past, Erin has a unique view of the world. She sees all the possibilities that can be and doesn't accept the limited scope accepted by society. Her favorite question is "Why not?" Join her, if only for a story or two, in her flights of fancy and 'what if' scenarios. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine online retailers.

6 thoughts on “How I Write: Thank You Drew Carey

  1. I wish I had the quick wit of the guys on that show. I loved that show and watched it daily. (Love Colin Mockery)

    I kind of write in both ways. I have a cast of characters, but then, sometimes add a few new ones as the story goes on. They might be just secondary characters, not really adding anything, but in my newest WIP, I’ve had to add in memories and so, I end up adding new characters.

    And, I’m with William. I kind of like seeing how the book evolves on its own. Sometimes you need to steer it in the right direction, but most of the time, the characters know which way to go.

    Great post!!!!

  2. Hey, all. 🙂 I’d had a loose plot, at first, but then thought, more, about what I really wanted to write, how intricate I wanted it to be of plot, but to also have it also be as close to real life of situations as can be written, and still have it be interesting (and I am still working on that part of it).

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