History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Prewriting, or The Writing Before the Writing

A blank page

How many times have you been working on a writing project, only to have to stop to figure out some tiny detail, without which you can’t go forward?

(Granted, there are some authors and advice-givers who say “go forward anyway, and figure it out later.” I’m talking more about the “this is not something I can gloss over because it informs what comes next” types of details.)

I’m finding this happening a lot with a novel I’m working on right now, so I took some time recently to sort out a bunch of details. The novel takes place in a school, and while I had lists of teachers and students and classes, I had never put those all together. Which left me scrambling to determine which teacher taught which class, as that would color my protagonist’s thoughts about her daily routine.

Some of this may be my own unwillingness to do too much work before I start writing, but there’s a level of detail that’s needed before you start, and a level of detail that can be filled in when you’re revising. It’s important to make sure all of the building blocks are there before you go hanging up the decorations! And the trick is knowing which is which!


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